On August 26 Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt will be answering your questions and explaining, step-by-step how to set up and use Twitter. You may have heard the name and may even have a Twitter account, but are you using it effectively to promote your books? August 26th is the day to find out. Sheri is the author of So You Think It's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? which has sold 15,000+ copies.
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Welcome to the Twitter universe – which now boasts 23+ million users! Obviously, many folks are happily tweeting away. Yet many new Twitter users don’t initially see the value of Twitter. It’s only after they’ve been tweeting for a while (a week? a month?), that the light suddenly goes off and they think, “Wow. This is cool!”
For some, the attraction is the rapid-fire flow of information. For others, it’s the fact that they’re attracting a following of people who think their posts are incredibly interesting. For others still, it’s the ability to “listen in” on what hundreds – if not thousands – of people think about the product or service they’re trying to sell.
What is Twitter, and How Can it Help You?
Put simply, Twitter is a microblog, an online platform that enables users to send and receive 140-character text messages (“tweets”) to each other. As you tweet, a copy of your message shows up on your Twitter homepage. But your tweet also shows up on the homepage of any person who selects to “follow” your updates. Similarly, your homepage collects the tweets of every user that you chose to follow.
Although many authors are using Twitter to sell their books, they didn’t charge out of the gate doing so. Instead, they initially focused on building a Twitter community of people who “got” them and their book(s). That’s because hard selling doesn’t work well on Twitter. In fact, you’ll quickly get unfollowed if all you do is talk about yourself (and/or a product or service). But if you view Twitter as a tool for connecting with others – building relationships via mutual listening and responding – you will eventually be able to use it as an effective sales tool. People will begin to care about you, and buy your books, because of the connection they have with you.
The best way to learn and understand Twitter is to try it!
Here’s How to Sign Up!
To set up your account, jump onto the Twitter home page (http://Twitter.com). Click the “Sign up Now” button to “join in the conversation” as Twitter likes to say. You’ll type in your name, pick a username and password, and add your email.
1) Be careful in choosing your username. I suggest sticking with your real name, if you want to strengthen your online brand. (That’s why my username is “SheriABell” and not “ZenaPrincessWarrior.”)
• Keep your username as short as possible. You only have 140 characters to tweet, and your username will eat into that.
• The link to your Twitter account is: http://twitter.com/username.
2) From your spanking new profile page, do a bit of customization. Click “Settings.” From the “Account” tab, add in your location and the link to your website or blog.Also be creative in describing yourself in the bio section. Your bio should definitely say that you’re an author. But don’t be bashful about adding some hobbies or favorite causes as well. These are the words that will entice other tweeters to follow you. I often follow people based on their bio. Later I might unfollow them if their tweets prove uninteresting. That leads me to two more tips:
• It’s not rude to unfollow someone. People opt in and out of Twitter relationships daily, in their quest to build a useful network.
• Don’t buy into the hype that “he with the most Twitter friends wins.” You should be thinking quality, not quantity – just as you do in your writing! As you will soon learn, it’s not easy keeping up with the many tweets that will soon be zinging your way. The point is to actively interact with your followers. So keeping up with 5,000 followers is a LOT harder than keeping up with 500. Even at 500, a lot of tweets will go by without your seeing them (and that's okay!). You will eventually figure out the number of followers you can handle.
• Some tweeters have huge followings – hundreds of thousands, if not millions, like Oprah and Britney Spears – most of that communication is one-way. (If you think Oprah is going to be sending you DMs about how she’d love to highlight your book on her show, well, perhaps your hopes for Twitter need some adjustment.)
3) Under the “Language” setting there’s a little box you can click that says “Protect My Tweets.” I suggest that you do NOT check that box, at least initially. I often read people’s timeline to see what they tweet about before deciding to follow them. Protect your tweets from public view and you’ll lose some great potential followers.
4) Next, click on the “Photo” tab and replace the generic Twitter avatar (image) with a GREAT headshot of yourself. If it’s blurry or includes your dog, you might want to rethink it – unless, perhaps, your book is about ghosts and dogs???
5) When you’re satisfied with the way your page looks (don’t worry, you can always tweak it further), click on the “Home” tab. Up pops a box asking, “What are you doing?” Well go on... Do it. Send out that first tweet! (I’ll wait….) Did you feel a rush of adrenaline?!!
• You can always delete a tweet, if you see you’ve included a typo, or decide that you should have kept that snarky comment about your publisher to yourself. But make your deletion ASAP, by clicking on the little trashcan icon, so that few of your followers have a chance to read it.
• Remember, this is an instant world! Hitting delete removes your tweet from your profile page and the profile pages of your followers. It does NOT, however, remove it from the Twitter timeline. It’s there forever. So be careful in what you post to the Twitter universe!
There you have the basics of setting up Twitter. Once you’re on Twitter, announce it to the world! Be sure to add the link to your Twitter page on your e-mails, and a “Follow me on Twitter” button to your blog or website. Any questions? If not, HAPPY TWEETING!!
Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt is an award-winning writer, editor, and children's author of 13 books. Her children's picture book, You Think It's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?, has sold 18,000+ copies. An online marketer and trainer as well, Sheri is blogging for PDB about social media and online marketing strategies. Follow Sheri on Facebook.com/SheriABell, on http://www.linkedin.com/in/sheriabell, and on Twitter.com/SheriaBell. Check out her website at www.Bell-Rehwoldt.com.