Do you currently use Twitter? If you don't, you really should consider it. Those who aren't on Twitter, even at my job, frequently ask me "just what IS Twitter anyway?" Basically, Twitter allows you to quickly send out short messages to your subscribers. The messages are 140 characters or less. That's not a lot of space, so it really forces you to be concise and to the point.
I mainly use Twitter to link to articles and web sites that I think authors would find most helpful. Lately, I have also been using it to connect with members of the media, bookstores and book reviewers. If you think Twitter is a waste of time, consider this: each day, Twitter logs visits by six million different users. That's the kind of exposure authors crave.
So, how can authors use Twitter to their benefit?
1. Give your Twitter readers something of value. If the majority of your Twitter posts say something like "Hey, read my book (Title). It's available now at Amazon!" you're not likely to get much, if any, response. However, if you frequently pass along useful information that can be found in your book, or you update your readers on your next project or pass along the location of your next book signing event, you're giving your readers something other than a hard sell...and they will keep reading.
2. Use Twitter to make connections. I have used Twitter to connect with members of the media, bookstores and book reviewers. If I recently read a book I found interesting, I pass it along to my readers. If there is something going on in the news that relates to a book I'm currently marketing, I mention it on Twitter. Recently, I mentioned I had some new releases coming up and offered free review copies to book reviewers. I received replies from book reviewers that asked me to send copies. That's a lot better than blindly mailing out review copies.
3 Use Twitter to plug upcoming appearances. As I briefly mentioned before, you can use Twitter to plug upcoming book signing events, or your upcoming media appearances, something like "Signing copies of my book (Title) at B&N on Smith Road in Nowheresville this Sat, 1 pm. " If you have a lot of friends and fans subscribing to your Twitter page, you've just notified them all that you have an upcoming event.
4. Schedule a Twitter Chat with your fans. If there are areas of the country you'd like to reach, but can't afford to fly out there for a book signing event, hold a Twitter Chat with your friends. You simply schedule a time to chat with your fans. You can coordinate this with your blog, or another popular book blog. At the scheduled time, you log into Twitter and your fans Tweet questions and messages to you, which you respond to. It's sort of like doing a live Q&A, but you're doing it on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. The best part: it's nationwide! You can even have contests on Twitter, where you give away a copy of your book to whichever Twitter user posts the best review of your book on Twitter.
5. Use Twitter to promote your other social media content. Have you just written a killer blog post that others will find useful? Mention it on Twitter. In fact, I'll be mentioning this post on Twitter as soon as it's written. Not only will it draw readers to my blog, but it may also lead some blog readers to follow me on Twitter. You say you don't have a blog? Tsk, tsk.
Don't hard sell on Twitter. Just be yourself and pass along useful info that others will find interesting.
Don't overpost. A couple of posts a day is fine. A couple hundred posts a day is not.
Don't get TOO personal. Remember, Twitter is public. If you wouldn't want your boss or your kids to see it, don't Tweet it. Be personable, but not overly personal.
Don't be dull. If you don't have anything interesting to Tweet, don't.
Don't ignore people who send you personal messages through Twitter, unless THEY are getting to personal.
Don't forget to follow ME on Twitter! My Twitter ID is TerryCordingley. I often share info on Twitter that I don't mention on my blog.
Question: Do YOU use Twitter? Has it helped you in your promotional efforts?