‘So tell us a bit about yourself,’ or upping your Twitter Game.

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Okay Writer-Tweeps. Yes. You need a profile. If you want followers, they need to know who they’re following. Plus they are drawn in by revelations of your human side.

Too many social media posts are impersonal, automated, and say nothing other than ‘BUY MY PRODUCT!!!’ So many of the tweets I receive every day are just a book title and a link to the sales page, nothing else, not even a ‘please’. I know we all want more sales as well as a larger following, but frankly a constant stream of unvarnished, bald sales pitch tweets are a massive turn-off.

Even a lot of the messages I get from people I follow or who follow me, and want me to reciprocate say quite simply, ‘Follow me on FB’ and a link, or ‘Check out my book’ and a link. There’s not even a pretence of being interested in me or my world. I am not seen as a person, I am a wallet, a statistic, and all I’m getting is a demand for payment. They rarely even offer to reciprocate by following me or buying my books. These people don’t care about me–they only want to stand on my corpse to reach a little higher.

Don’t be like that. That is not the way to build true relationships on social media or to gain real followers. Sometimes I send them a message back saying, ‘Follow me on FB.’ or ‘Buy my book.’ Usually I just ignore them. Only very occasionally do I think, actually yes, I will buy your book because it sounds really good.

Beware the ‘Buy 5000 twitter followers NOW’ bods too. If you don’t buy, they will unfollow you in a week or two. If you do, all you’re getting is people who ignore your tweet and won’t engage with your feed. Plus you will get bombarded with requests from everyone else trying to sell on their lists too. Are these even real followers?

But don’t only follow people like yourself. If you only follow other writers you will severely limit your reach.

Think about your interests. Twitter is all about comments and short snippets of information. follow gardeners, Mums, bird watchers, chefs, celebs, boy bands, The National Trust, The British Library–anything that you find interesting, retweet, engage, comment, ‘heart/like’, twill help to fill out your twitter feed without demanding too much brainpower, and is a great way to gain new followers who share your interests.

If followers are few, build up your following by searching the subjects that interest you or people who interest you, and follow their followers. go through the list of people you follow every to or three weeks and unfollow anyone who hasn’t followed you back unless you really, really find them fascinating or noteworthy. I should point out that if you don’t have many followers and you trawl Twitter for people you can follow, you will find you reach a maximum at 2001 at which point Twitter will not allow you to follow any more people until the numbers following you even up a bit.

And to come back to my opening comment, don’t just put in your name and a picture of your dog and expect loads of people to follow you – well, maybe they will, but if you put a smiling pic of yourself on their along with a few personal details in your profile such as ‘Rabbit whisperer and mother of six, writing Westerns in my spare time’ or ‘Bakes cookies, mum and chauffeur to six kids’, people will be more interested in following you because you’ve given them a little snapshot of your life and interests – you’ve made yourself into a real person they can relate to. No one follows a blank sheet. From this they know a) you;re female, and b) a mum, and c) ordinary just like them – you have to stop being fabulous and take your kids somewhere, and you wrangle pets just like they do. Now if you said ‘Bakes cookies, chauffeuse to six kids, and Author of Westerns’, that would tell them even more – a) you’re a parent of six kids, b) so you’ve obviously got no TV, c) you know French, d) you’re a bit nit-picky or an accuracy nerd, and e) you’re a little bit different. Then that might make them take a look at your books.

If you’re worried about having something to say, well it’s easy on Twitter–say it quick and get out. 140 characters (a combination of letters, spaces and/or punctuation) is the max, plus you can put on photos or other media too. My husband has a favourite acronym KISS which stands for, as you probably know, Keep It Simple, Stupid. I prefer to think of it as Keep It Short and Sweet. It’s a bit like writing a postcard, you’ve only got a small space, so make every word count: ‘Argggh! Hair Dye Disaster! Another shower curtain ruined!’ or something daft. Or, ‘What a fab film last night – really love Ridley Scott’. Reach out to people, and they will reach back. Keep it short and sweet, be precise. I tweet a lot of Haiku, because they’re really short – so they’re the perfect length for a tweet, and I love the discipline of having  to say what I want to say quickly.

So in short – tell people who you are, let them knowing they’re following a real person just like them and it’s not only about the sales. We don’t have to be Twitter Automatons.

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