Friday, June 25, 2010

The Real Secret to Twitter

When I began marketing my book, I knew nothing. I always say I knew nothing and I don’t think anyone believes me, but truly I had no idea where to begin telling people about myself or my book. I happened upon one of Penny C. Sansevieri’s newsletters by accident and have been following her articles, Tweets, podcasts, and newsletters ever since. Penny is a book marketing expert. She has such an excellent grasp of the publishing industry that her advice and information are a boon to any author, either of fiction or non-fiction. Today I’d like to share her advice on using Twitter effectively. Actually, when I first created my Twitter account I had no idea what I would Tweet about. Talk about being terrified … I was Twerrified. If you’ve ever felt that way, or still feel that way, stop panicking. Advice to follow as Penny shares the real secret to Twitter!

If you've ever been impressed by the number of followers someone has on Twitter, I have a newsflash for you: it doesn't matter. The thing is, you can buy followers (no, I'm not kidding) sort of like buying mailing lists. How effective is buying followers? Well, let me ask you: How effective was the last mailing list you bought? Whatever your answer is I can guarantee you that buying Twitter followers will be far less effective. Why? Because social media does not favor automation, it favors engagement, interaction, and yes, being social.

You might be interested in knowing someone's Twitter-reach or you might be trying to determine if your campaign is effective. Here are some key things to look at when measuring anyone's Twitter-success:

1) How active is the person on Twitter?

2) How relevant to their market are their updates? For example did a mystery author just tell you she's washing her cat?

3) How much do they broadcast vs. communicate?

4) How often are they retweeted?

5) How many Twitter lists are they on?

One of the best ways to determine if your Twitter campaign is effective—or someone else's—is by gauging how often they are retweeted. Retweeting is an important factor in Twitter, possibly the most significant means to determine an effective Twitter person from an ineffective one. In fact, Twitter popularity lists aren't based on the amount of followers but rather on the amount of activity in a campaign. When I recently pulled up a list of the top 10 Twitter-ers in Southern California, I found that many in the top 10 didn't even break 10,000 followers.

How can you determine how active an account is? There are a few services that you might want to look into. The first is Retweet Rank. This service shows you (by user) how much someone has been retweeted as well as their most popular retweeted posts.

Twitter Analyzer is another great tool for determining how far tweets have traveled. You can isolate a user or a particular Twitter-stream. Very useful site!

How can you increase your tweet-ability? Here are a few tips to help you grow your Twitter campaign:

1) Know what your followers want: the first piece sounds simple but could take you the most amount of time. Candidly, it took me three months to finally get a handle on what my followers wanted and what seemed to rank high on the retweeting scale. If you don't know what your followers want, try following popular people in your market and see what they are posting about. Use this as a guideline to help you dig deeper into what your market wants.

2) Share useful advice: now that you've determined what your followers want to see on Twitter, make sure the information you are sharing is helpful. I know this sounds like an oxymoron. If you've determined what your followers want of course what you tweet on will be helpful, right? Wrong. Ask yourself what they need, not what you think they want. There is a big difference.

3) Don't overtweet: OK, full confession, I've been guilty of this from time to time but now I've found a good balance of between 4 and 5 posts a day. This may be a metric that works for you, but you'll need to determine that on your own. How do you know? If people start unfollowing you the reason may because you are overtweeting.

4) Balance broadcasting with communicating: this is a biggie for many of us. It's important to use any social media tool like a telephone. You would never call someone and just blast them with information, right? You'll give them something, wait for a response and then respond to their question and so a discussion ensues. Use social media as you would a telephone: communicate, don't broadcast.

5) Comment on current events that relate to your industry: becoming the go-to person for everything related to your industry is what most of us aspire to. Keeping apprised of what's going on in your industry is important and then, sharing the highlights or most significant items with your followers will go a long way toward growing your popularity.

6) Recommend helpful resources: much like current events, you want to offer helpful resources to your followers. This might not be appropriate to every market, but for the majority of us this works very well. Again, the more you can become a resource the more you will grow your popularity on Twitter or, for that matter, any social media site.

Many people hop on to Twitter thinking it's a numbers game when it really isn't. You can have a Twitter-tribe of millions and not gain the same kind of social media success that you would with only 1,000 followers. The wisdom of the crowd knows that it's not always the size of the audience that matters but how engaged they are in you and your message. Find the balance that works for. You'll be glad you did.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. Visit Penny's Author Marketing Expert site for loads more articles and tips on book marketing.


Angela Ackerman said...

Neat post--I didn't know about the retweet rank. I went and tried it and it did give me a number, but doesn't really explain what that number means, or if it's good or bad. Can you elaborate on that?

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Fiona Ingram said...

Here's a good example: Mark Coker CEO of Smashwords is listed (today) as 12754 or a 99.29 percentile. My measly rank is 1802999 which adds up to a humbling (yes, minus!) -0.0 percentile. So, I guess the smaller the number the higher you rank.

david said...

excellent article. now, if i could only start following that advice.

Angela Ackerman said...

Okay, thanks. Mine is currently sitting at 5157 - approx 99.71 percentile but it went down from this morning. So one thing to keep in mind is if you do a lot of #FF mentions, your rank will dip as a result, because those don't get RT'd. (That's the only reason I can think of for the change).