Though people love to hate it, the importance of social media cannot be understated. While it may have been a fad a decade ago, it is difficult to operate in today’s world without some form of social media. You can pick your poison - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, etc. - from an ever-growing list of options. What I want to focus today’s Road to Indie blog on is Twitter, and the value it has brought to me as an aspiring author.
Twitter used to be the powerhouse of the social media field, burning brighter than Facebook even. Though that fire seems to have dimmed a little, the platform still continues to be a buzzing site of activity. What makes Twitter incredibly unique is its ability for businesses and individuals to build their own brand with it. More than any other social media platform, Twitter is the ultimate tool to play the long-game, the slow burn that creates your own brand over time. But how? Here are some ways that Twitter can be used to build a brand that I have learned either through my own experience, or that of others.
It is more personal
This might seem strange, considering the extremely limited character count that you can Tweet with. I have spent upwards of five or ten minutes trying to reword a Tweet to fit, especially when I am including tags or participating in one of the daily, themed writing games. However, Twitter gives you a sort of intimacy with other users of the platform that is not really available in other forms of social media.
It is not uncommon for an individual to Tweet at someone. It could be a question, a comment, or just some general praise, but it is as easy as typing in @dwlandsborough and saying what you want to say. The great part about the intimacy of Twitter is the ease in which someone can reply to you. I have had questions answered, have received Tweets from some of my favourite authors, and have gotten into some pretty fun conversations as a result of 140 characters. Not only has it allowed me to grow, get answers, and feel excited, but it has led to a feeling of…
Being part of a community
Depending on your niche - mine would be writing, Dungeons & Dragons, and most things you might not brag about - it might be hard for you to find local groups or people to talk to, meet with, or bounce ideas off. With Twitter, you have access to a global community of likeminded people. The only thing you need to do is search a keyword (#indieauthor, #amwriting, #dungeonsanddragons) and you have a never-ending list of people who are vocal about your same niches!
You learn… a lot
One of the great things about the communities that you join is how much you can get out of them. There is no shortage of blogs being written, 140-character pieces of advice being Tweeted, or articles being shared that will undoubtedly fall into your area of interest. I have picked up grammar tips, industry advice, and random facts in the almost six months since I joined Twitter. Just be sure to retweet the things you like to help that community out! It is the least you could do, and could make someone’s day.
It makes you feel good
This one is a tad selfish, but is nonetheless true. There is something exciting and morale-boosting about logging into Twitter, or checking your phone, and seeing “Jim followed you”, or “Jane retweeted your Tweet”, or (my personal favourite) “X new interactions”. There are some nights when the notifications don’t stop and, as someone who is using the medium to play that long game of brand-building, that is nearly euphoric. In fact, there is even a chemical released in your brain when you have social acceptance and interaction like this, one that promotes excitement and good feelings!
You aren’t just a product
One of the things I cannot stand seeing on Twitter, in the capacity of a reader, is an account that solely exists to Tweet promotions about one’s own books. Are those Tweets acceptable? Of course, and they have led me to some wonderful reads. But no one wants to subscribe to your personal advertising outlet. Twitter’s greatest strength is its ability to let you shine as an individual. Tweet about some fun things you are doing, about a sports game you are watching, or your thoughts on a movie. Make sure that your followers know that you are a human being who enjoys writing, not a writing machine that just wants to sell books.
There is a rule in brand-building on Twitter known as the 80/20 Rule. It encourages you to Tweet about yourself 20% of the time, and spend the other 80% retweeting or interacting with others. This is a great way to expand your network and let others know that you are about being part of this community, not just cramming your book trilogy down their throats. Have I been completely faithful to the 80/20 Rule? No. Sometimes you might not have a ton of time to go on Twitter, sometimes you just don’t see anything that makes you want to interact. But try and keep the Rule in mind, and you will reap the rewards in spades.
I am, by no means, a Twitter genius (yet), nor do I claim to be. I have read multiple books and taken courses on social media marketing, but a lot of learning has come from the journey along the way. Twitter is like anything else in life: you have to be willing to put the effort in if you want to see results, and I can personally attest to that. I started this blog almost six months ago, and am on track to cross the 700 follower mark before I hit that half-year milestone. More than just sheer numbers, the experience of being part of this growing Twitter community, of growing because of this platform, keeps me going. Hopefully it can get you excited about Twitter, too.