I have a relatively modest following of 500+ on Twitter and my tweeps engage with me fairly often. Twitter is supposed to be a conversation, and there are quite a few tweeps who recognise that. We retweet, we DM, we send messages to each other about what we’re doing and what we want to do. On occasion, we talk about our books/music/poems/projects (you get the idea…)
However, there is this one tweep of mine whose every tweet seems to be a plug for his project. Every. single. tweet. I was pretty turned off by this at first. It’s one of the don’ts I blogged about here. But something happened to me the other night which made me reconsider. I’d just tweeted about a TV programme I was watching and what-seemed-like-a-second-later I picked up my smartphone to tweet an update ……
I couldn’t even find my first tweet! There were over 25 tweets buzzing up my feed in the 2 minutes since my first message about the programme. I’m not one of those (lucky?) authors with 10,000+ friends on Twitter, but can you imagine if I was?
To follow 10,000 people would mean that my Twitter feed would be so dynamic, there’d be no way I could keep up with it all. And to have 10,000 people follow me and 9,999 other people would mean that my occasional tweets would get lost in the tweetosphere before they’d probably even get a chance to read them. Is it really possible to engage in conversations with so many followers?
If you ask me, it isn’t.
But back to my tweep with the hard-sell Twitter feed.
I recognised that this friend was probably already wise to the game: occasional tweets about your book or project are likely to get lost in the feeds of tweeps with more than just a few Twitter friends. If you’re trying to get and stay visible to thousands of followers, your tweeting frequency has to be much higher that a few tweets per day. And if your aim is visibility for your book or project, then the frequency of your tweets about it has to be way up there. It’s simple math.
If you’re the tweep of someone with thousands of followers, and he or she is one of your (only) 500, then the (hard-sell promotional) feed that’s coming from that person may seem rather ….. spammy.
So how does an author seeking visibility strike a balance?
In my opinion, you don’t.
Let’s look at the real-life, flesh-and-blood people I’m trying to connect with on Twitter. I’m after authors I can share information with and receive support and mentorship from, agents who might be attracted to my world and writing and, most of all, readers, who might be persuaded to buy, review or promote my book to their friends and followers. Friends with interesting perspectives on love and life are welcome too. None of those groups is likely to be impressed by the hard-sell approach (I’m certainly not!) And most readers are not people with thousands of followers – so three-minute loops of tweets force-feeding them my latest book are likely to be seen by them far too often for them to like it.
As a reader myself, I have one piece of advice for authors on Twitter:
Leave the bullhorn at home, please! It’s not a good look.