Tuesday, September 3, 2013

4 Myths That Stop You From Effectively Using Twitter

by Connie Flynn
Myth #1 - Twitter is About Building Relationships
If you've bought into that myth, you also bought into the Twitterland delusion. So what is that delusion?

It's the silly idea that twitter is about relationships.

Am I saying it isn't? Yes, and beyond that I'm repeating that it's delusional. Think about it. Do you really care if a stranger is having a relaxing moment on his beautiful patio or that a woman just found a cool place to get a manicure or even that a casual twitter acquaintance has finally broken away from his writing to jump into a long-neglected shower (eewe) Nope,  you really don't, do you? If you want relationships you go to Facebook.

Twitter is a marketplace, not unlike a bazaar. It's about SEE AND BE SEEN. The most valuable part of tweeting is that it lets you become visible in the vast sea of the Internet. So dress up the twitter site. Give it a pretty background. Make sure your picture is flattering and welcoming. In time, you become familiar to other users in your stream. People on Twitter don't want to be your best friend. They just want to know you've been around a while and will probably stick around. They do this by seeing your tweets.

Myth #2 Twitter is Confusing and Makes No Sense
It's no secret that I love this media or that I fully understand why many people don't. After all, you can only use 140 characters, and you have to count the spaces between words, too? Whose crazy idea was that?

A brilliant marketer, is my guess and the main reason it's confusing you probably came from the same marketer, who convinced you that conversation was possible in  140 characters or less. Talk about sound bites. Again, Facebook and other such sites are much better at conversing than twitter. That leaves twitter as the most effective and inexpensive method of getting your name out there. If you're a writer who wants to actually be able to afford food, you'll need to get known, so read on.

Myth #3 - Tweeting is a Waste of Time
Yes, it takes time, but it also lets people know what you have to offer. Don't be shy. Just be willing to retweet and engage in brief twitter conversations because that helps the other tweeter be seen. Trust me, they'll do the same for you. Don't let tweets devolve into deeply personal matters. Keep them focused on your brand image. While some people do use Twitter entirely for personal reasons, most of them won't stick around because they, unlike you, are not there to do business. But that doesn't mean they won't buy your book before they drift away.

Many of you, I know, would prefer going into a cave to write your books, coming out only for a few autographings and to take that above mentioned shower. Not going to happen. So unless you have unlimited funds to pay someone else to do these tasks, you'll eventually surrender to the idea that you need to tweet.  When you do, plan on doing at least ten marketing tweets each day. Yes, I know, I know, that's totally against everything you've read but most of that advice came from the twitterland delusion, and in a few secs I'll tell you why that many tweets are not a problem. The real problem is that, unless you're a tweet-a-holic, that many tweets require you to go into twitter ten times a day. What a pain.

That's why you need HootSuite or TweetDeck or some such service that lets you schedule your tweets. I know and understand Hootsuite better than TweetDeck but I got it mainly because TweetDeck has to be loaded on your computer and Hootsuite is stored on the web. The basic service is free and I have been toying with subscribing to its upgraded service, but so far basic HootSuite has filled my needs.

The best thing about a tweet manager programs is it lets you go in each day, schedule your tweets, then forget them to some degree. You should still go in now and then and retweet your buddies and engage in a bit of brief conversations.

Myth #4 - Tweeting Doesn't Sell Books or Products
I agree. Tweeting doesn't sell books. It's the content of the tweets that does the selling and seldom does a tweet say 'buy my book.' It tells what the book has to offer in slogan jargon and sound bites. Others are straight-forward — book and author name, price if it's on sale, link to a site where it can be bought — and are more like a billboard than a slogan. To repeat, tweeting doesn't sell books, it gets your name or title or series title out there, makes it  familiar, so one day the reader will click on the link, saying to themselves, 'who is this Connie Flynn person? I should try one of her books.'  And so the sales happen and as my name and book title gets more familiar, sales go up.

Launching a book? Schedule a tweet every hour for 24 hours (remember Twitter never sleeps) and see what happens
Myth #5 - Tweet Too Often and You Tick People Off
Here's the deal about heavy tweeting. Somewhere, some place people are quoting an arbitrary rule like saying you should do about four content tweets for every sales pitch.  That's delusional.

Come on now! Are these people paying any attention to how the twitter stream works? It's a chronological scrolling of every tweet put out on a given day that somehow includes your address. You have little control over what goes in that stream, other than knowing it will only contain tweets from people you follow and also follow you.  The likelihood is that the same person  will not see every tweet unless it is retweeted within your twitter stream. This is a good thing. An endorsement that comes from others. Respond in kind even if you haven't read their book. Remember, it's about seeing and being seen.One to two content tweets a day are enough. Content tweets are hard, which is why so many of them are a bit inane. Quotes are good, but if you can come up with something original that's even better. Personally, I like to promote other authors and author venues —  conferences, appearances, things like that. I occasionally talk about my tai chi classes, mostly because the positions have such intriguing names. I could never come up with White Swan Spreads its Wings on my own. But I do this generally through Facebook, which automatically sends it to my twitter account.

One thing that might be stopping you from using Twitter is the learning curve. It's a bit steep but it was even steeper at the beginning. I had no idea how HootSuite worked or how to set it up and how to follow my followers . . . or even how to write an effective tweet (which is always an ongoing challenge), but it got easier, and a task that once took me a couple of hours I now generally deal with in under a half hour.  Now there is no doubt that twitter is more effective for eBook sales than print because these readers tend to be more impulsive in their buying habits and are also generally heavier readers. Still print books can also benefit from twitter, especially when they have an eBook version as well.


Mary Tate Engels said...

Connie , this is exactly what I need to hear! When I retweet, does it go I to the same stream? (I know, I really need a tutor on this!)
Thanks for starting this discussion!.

Connie Flynn said...

Good question, Mary. When you retweet it goes into your twitter stream. That's why you need to have as many followers as you can. If those followers also retweet, then it goes into their streams. So a single tweet can reach thousands of tweeters and get your name and book title out.

While I won't credit Twitter for my steady sales, I do know that every time I take a break from it, my sales decrease. That's why I keep doing it.

Mary Tate Engels said...

Thanks Connie. Sounds like a good thing to use - twitter that sells books. I used it to promo my sales books this summer. And it worked well.

So I'd better get busy with twitter.

What do others think?