I have been using Twitter for a long time (yes, longer than I’ve had @stompydragons – did you think I was a new kid on the social media block?) and I like to think that I’m pretty okay at it. No, I do not have 5k followers. I am a teeny tiny voice, I am not yet published, and I’ve only had that Twitter account for a year. It’s growing slowly yet steadily.
And this is what is kind of bugging me. At least once a week, I see articles crossing my feed about how to quickly grow a huge Twitter following and how to use it to promote yourself. It all amounts to tactics that I find incredibly annoying when they’re done to me, and I am sufficiently annoyed right now to break them down and explain why they’re such annoying, terrible pieces of advice.
Tip 1: Follow x-hundred new accounts every day! Unfollow anyone who hasn’t followed you back within a week! You’ll have thousands of followers in a couple of months.
Uh, yeah. That is how to annoy the shit out of people because everyone who gets one of those follows can see what you’re doing. I look at the accounts following 10k people and I know that’s what they’re up to. They’ve followed thousands of accounts they don’t actually read or give a damn about, because it’s the number of follows they get back that matters to them. They’re not following me because they think I’m interesting. They’re follow me because I can be a number for them. I’m not playing that game. It may be slower, but the accounts that I follow are ones that I’m interested in reading, and I’ll let people find me organically.
Tip 2: Remember to promote your book frequently on your feed!
Not actually a terrible tip. Unless your entire feed is book promotion, and then it’s a terrible, terrible idea. Authors absolutely should be doing some book promotion around release day. It’s not an awful idea to occasionally talk about a book outside that window. But the way I use Twitter–and the way most people use Twitter who aren’t 100% promotion focused–is for communication and social stuff. Talk about what you’re working on now! Join in with the meme du jour! (Within reason.) Discuss the issue of the day! Post kitten pictures! (Preferably your own kitten, please. Don’t just randomly steal a bunch of kitten pics. We get very invested in your kittens, so don’t fake it.) Make jokes, complain about accidentally putting yoghurt in your coffee, talk to other people, and be a person on Twitter. That’s the “social” part of social media, and it’s what most people are reading their twitter feed for.
Tip 3: Post or retweet links to interesting content!
It’s another tip that’s not actually terrible…unless that’s all you post. If the first two pages of your Twitter feed are all retweets from other accounts, I’m out. So are most Twitter users who use it for the aforementioned “social” part of social media. And if your retweets are such a random selection that they look bot-generated…I’m blocking you on my way past, too.
Tip 4: Personally thank every new follower. Every day. For a week.
That…that is creepy. Stop it.
Tip 5: Set up an auto-DM to every new follower with a bunch of links to buy your books/read your blog
NO. I have not met one person who doesn’t immediately unfollow those accounts. Stop doing it. That’s even creepier than the persistent thank yous on the public feed.
I like Twitter. I’ve met people and made friends on it. I’ve bought books that I’ve seen discussed. I’ve felt like a part of a larger world of fandom through it. Used well, it’s a great tool and a fun part of my day. Or a snarly part of my day when a huge bruhaha flares up, but it keeps me informed about what the issue is, which is useful. Mostly it’s fun, though. Twitter isn’t that hard to use, but a lot of the advice I see makes it hard to use well. Avoid doing stuff that annoys people, engage, be interesting and entertaining, and don’t value it only for your follower stats. It’ll work out, you’ll see.