Lots of people are on it just because they are fans of someone who is also on it: A pop group, an actor, a celeb or, even, an author. They are interested in them and they want to interact with them, which is also great. Others, however, are on Twitter to promote their work or their business. In fact I would go so far as to say that these people now form a high proportion of Twitter users.
There is nothing at all wrong with that. It’s one of the reasons I’m on Twitter myself. I do follow lots of people because I like them and it’s nice to interact with them, but the bottom line is that I have books to promote, some Twitter users read books, so it’s a good way for me to reach out to people and let them know about my books.
For around two years the number of followers I had fluctuated between 30 and 50. For some reason people would follow me and then a couple of weeks later would unfollow me. There was a distinct pattern to this but I couldn’t work it out. Why were these strangers following me? How did they find out my name? Having followed me, why did they later unfollow me?
I knew that buying followers wasn’t the answer to my problem. It may look good to have 10,000 followers, but they are all fakes so they aren’t reading my tweets. Buying followers is therefore about vanity and is a waste of money.
First of all I set out to answer the questions posed above. I happened to have met a fellow author who lives in the same village who is a bit more tech savvy than me. That’s not actually saying much. There are caterpillars in my garden more tech savvy than me, but I digress. He has written a book containing a limerick for every town in mainland UK and as a tip of the hat to him for his advice here’s his website. Anyway, I mentioned Twitter and he told me how he generated lots of new followers. I’m not claiming what he told me is new; it’s probably been going on since Twitter started, but it’s amazing how few people know about this little trick. I certainly didn’t.
The main reason people follow you on Twitter is because you follow them. How’s that for a revelation!
So, who do you decide to follow? It isn’t difficult to decide. You follow the sort of people who would be interested in what you have to offer. I’m an author, so I need to follow people who read a lot of books. More specifically, I need to follow people who read the sort of books that I write.
Of course, Ian Fleming died long before Twitter became a thing, so he doesn’t have a Twitter account. James Bond does, believe it or not, so I could follow the people who follow the James Bond fan page. You can search for any Twitter user by typing their name into Twitter’s search bar, but you may have to use trial and error to identify a specific user from the results. There’s more than one James Bond on Twitter!
If I click on the “follow” button for the James Bond page I can then click on “Followers” and their names will appear, all 360,000 of them. I can then start clicking “follow” on those names. Some of those people will then follow me back and so my follower count starts to rise. But here’s the thing – these will be real people who genuinely like spy stories.
Some of these people will follow me simply because I’m following them. It’s a friendly thing to do. They won’t all stay with me, of course. Some will decide I’m not saying anything interesting and they’ll then unfollow me. That’s fine. You can’t win ‘em all.
On the other hand, if I say something that interests them and entertains them, they might not unfollow me. I’ll get back to that in a moment.
Of course, if people aren’t following back then the balance between the number of people who follow me and the number that I follow becomes skewed. Once you have followed 5,000 people Twitter won’t let you follow any more until you have 5,000 followers of your own, so you have to unfollow some of the people who aren’t following you so that you can follow some more people (complicated, I know).
After a reasonable time period, about three weeks, I go through my list of followers and unfollow those people who aren’t following me. It seems harsh, unfriendly even, but if they aren’t following me then they won’t receive my tweets, so they won’t find out about my books which, after all, is the whole purpose of the exercise. They are also preventing me from following new people who might follow me back, so they are in the way, so to speak.
The best way to keep Twitter followers is to interact with them. It isn’t called “social media” for nothing. There are four things that are a must:
- “Like” followers’ tweets if they say something interesting or entertaining. It’s the same as liking something on Facebook.
- Re-tweet. If you find something interesting or entertaining then your other followers may also find it interesting or entertaining, so a re-tweet is always welcomed. Again, it’s no different from Facebook, where we “share”. I have also found that if I re-tweet something then the person that I re-tweeted usually re-tweets something of mine, which increases my reach and often brings me new followers.
- Interact. Get involved in the conversation. It can be as simple as sending them a LOL (ugh), though a “like” will convey the same message, or you can say something more constructive. Golden rule here – don’t be negative. The “unfollow” button is only a click away.
- Tweet. Yes, you should tweet your own material. This should not be a hard sell. The social marketing gurus suggest that only 20% of what you tweet should be about promoting your product. The other 80% should be genuine social content. It doesn’t have to be inspiring or funny, but it shouldn’t be boring (no I don’t want to see a photo of your dinner). If you can’t think of anything original to say, there’s a whole big internet out there where you can find stuff to tweet. Take advantage of it.
Hashtags are a good way of getting a tweet to a specific audience. To promote my books I use #books, #writing, #author, #reading and #amreading. For my blogs I use #blog and #blogging. Again there are websites that can provide you with information on the best hashtags to use. This is just one of them.
However, beware of over using hashtags. Any message I see that is made up almost entirely of hashtags I generally scroll past without reading. I speak English, not Hashtag and I just can’t be bothered trying to make sense of the tweet. Again, I suspect that I’m not alone. I generally don’t use more than 2 hashtags in any tweet and I always put them at the end of the message.
Two more tips:
- Make sure your Twitter profile includes a location. No one is asking for your address, just a town, a county or a country will do. If you are promoting your books to a mainly British audience then you want mainly British people to follow you, but they have to know you are British in the first place. The same applies to any other nationality. Keep it serious: you may think it’s funny to put your location as “behind you” or “in your head” or even “3rd rock from the Sun” but potential followers may not be so amused.
- If your new followers are going to re-tweet anything then whatever is at the top of your profile page is probably going to be what they re-tweet. So pin a tweet for your book (or other product) to the top of your profile page (my guide tells you how if you can’t find it on Twitter’s help pages).
So that is my quick look around the world of the Twitter follower. If you would like to know more then please download my free guide or e-mail me at the address on the “contacts” page. I promise not to add you to any mailing lists or bombard you with spam. I value you following me on Twitter far too much to do that.
The prequel also includes the first chapter of The Magi as a taster for the full book.