How to Grow an Organic Twitter Following
by Dan Parsons
One common attribute shared by successful authors is that they make it almost impossible for their fans to forget them. Once a reader enters their sales funnel, they strive to have a presence everywhere that reader spends their time. However, there aren’t enough hours in a day to be on every site. As everyone’s reader base is different, deciding where best to spend your time depends entirely on how your readers act.
Right now, children and young adults typically prefer Instagram and TikTok, graduates and professionals favour Twitter, and Facebook attracts an increasingly more mature demographic. There are other notable sites like Snapchat, Tumblr and Pinterest, but most users will also use one of the main ones already mentioned. As a result, building a presence on a few of the prominent sites means covering as many readers as possible.
Despite having a paid ads platform that notoriously doesn’t (currently) work well for authors, Twitter is a good place to grow an organic following because it attracts a strong reading portion of the population, including other authors. That’s why today’s blog post will teach you how you can build a strong Twitter presence that is optimised for networking and placing yourself in the forefront of your readers’ minds.
CREATE AN EFFECTIVE PROFILE
Twitter can be used to keep in touch with your friends but that isn’t its primary function. Unlike other social media sites, it’s designed to help you broadcast information to followers you may or may not know. That’s why so many celebrities and businesses love it. The site helps them reach their fans while exposing them to potential new ones whenever their tweets are “retweeted” (shared) by existing ones.
It’s possible to benefit from this phenomenon even as a new user with low follower numbers. You just have to create a profile that is optimised for virality. A good way to start is by setting up your profile with a memorable handle – a short string of characters starting with the “@” symbol by which other users contact you. Create one that’s short and easy to remember and you make it simpler for people to tag your profile in their tweets and direct their followers to your profile.
Also, adding a recognisable profile pic and a customised banner image will make you more identifiable. Ideally, you should use this valuable space to promote that you’re an author, possibly showing off your books or website as professionally as possible. Combine that with an error-free, keyword-rich bio and you will appear in relevant search results, converting tailored traffic into active followers.
To be a figure worth following, you first need to know what makes someone interesting on Twitter, and that means becoming a follower. Start by following popular authors whose readerships overlap with yours to see what they’re doing. Once you have scrolled through their profiles and found what works for them, you can start posting your own content and interact with their fans to show them that you are active and create the type of content they already enjoy. This should lead to more followers.
Nowadays, interaction is paramount on social media because many sites suppress content by users who have lots of followers but few who interact. This change came into play to combat follower farms that traded cash for fake followers. Those who produce high-quality content that their followers interact with experience more exposure, trending while less popular content creators see their tweets disappear. That’s why growing a base of relevant, active followers is essential. Their early interactions springboard your tweets in front of more readers.
BE WORTH FOLLOWING
As a new author on social media it can be tempting to shout “Buy my book!” at every opportunity, but that sort of content won’t help your cause because most Twitter users don’t engage with sales pitches. Generally, what they actually want to see can be broken down into three categories:
You only have to look at your own browsing habits to see that most of what you search revolves around these themes, and it’s true for almost everyone who isn’t on the site purely to keep in touch with family and friends.
Most users want to be inspired, entertained or taught something new. It also helps to switch up the type of content you promote to keep your inspiring, entertaining and interesting content fresh, including images in some tweets, pure text in others and peppering some with GIFs and videos. Revolving the media types you include is proven to draw more attention to your words and increase interactions.
If your followers find your content inspiring, amusing or interesting, they will be more likely to share it. So, creating content with this in mind will lead to more interactions and draw more potential readers. Striking the right balance is key. Generally, you can still include the odd book launch or promotional tweet as long as 90% of your content delivers what your followers want so that they continue to deem you worth following and pay attention to what you have to say in the future.
USE RELEVANT HASHTAGS
Hashtags are strings of characters starting with a “#” symbol. Once included in a tweet, they become clickable links that send people to a feed of tweets that all include the same hashtag. For example, you could tweet:
Wrote 1,500 words today. I’m on fire! #AmWriting
If someone clicked on “#AmWriting” in that tweet, it would lead them to a stream of tweets like this from other writers:
#AmWriting my eighth novel. Almost done. Hope my editor likes it.
Two blog posts down. Two more to go! #AmWriting
Just got to my office, boiled the kettle for tea, time to get working. #AmWriting
All would show varying levels of interactions, with the least engaged staying in a “Latest” feed while more popular tweets with that hashtag graduate to a “Top” feed where they get seen by more people.
This particular hashtag targets other writers. However, you could target fans of game literature with #LitRPG or self-help junkies with #SelfHelp. The more specific your hashtags, the better. If you want to grow your audience, you could even combine super-specific ones that appeal to your core fanbase – to attract early interactions – with broader ones that help you reach a wider audience. For example:
I think you guys are gonna love this new #LitRPG book! Doing some #fantasy worldbuilding.
In this example, the LitRPG hashtag will expose you to specific users who will provide you with the early interactions you need to trend in the more popular fantasy hashtag.
PROMOTE YOUR TWITTER ACCOUNT ELSEWHERE
A final tip for building a robust, organic Twitter following is to include links to your profile in places where you already have fans. Your email newsletter is an effective place to start and requires little effort. You don’t even have to promote your new presence with a hard sell. Simply adding a clickable Twitter logo that leads to your profile at the bottom of your newsletter tells your readers that you’re an active user and makes you easy to find.
If you want to grow more aggressively, you can run promotions where you give away free content to anyone who follows you or likes your post, incentivising them to make the leap. There are lots of methods to increase your number of followers and interactions. To brainstorm, you can come up with totally original tactics or look at what’s working well for other authors in your genre and do something similar. The options are limitless!
The advantage of having a presence on a site like Twitter is that it helps you to hold the attention of new readers for longer. There is a natural drop-off of interaction per follower with every platform. Even some email subscribers lose interest as the novelty of seeing your emails wanes. By showing up in those readers’ Twitter feeds, you stay prominent in their minds, keeping them informed even if their email open and click-through rates slide.
All of the tips in this blog post will equip you with a Twitter account that is primed for organic growth. While your initial rise to a few hundred followers might take a few weeks, your growth will compound over time with more and more readers flocking to your profile when they see a consistent history of activity and strong social proof on your tweets. The platform, in turn, will become yet another tool in your author inventory that will make you more able to promote your own work and leverage your success for long-term results.
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