Copied verbatim from a recent email exchange:
How did you get so many followers on Twitter?
Well, it’s not that many—not really. I mean, it’s good to have followers but I see tons and tons of writers out there on Twitter with five times, ten times more than me. Tons!
But how did you get them?
Um, they followed me and I followed them back (if they were accounts I wanted to follow that is. Not spammy-jerky-salesy folks).
But isn’t Twitter just a big mess?
Not if you use lists.
What the hell are lists?
Click under your profile pic on Twitter and you’ll see the ‘lists’ option, then click on “Create New List.” (It’s a button on the right-hand side of the page.) As Twitter says, “A list is a curated group of Twitter users and a great way to organize your interests.” If you’re ever out there reading tweets and it looks like someone has a cool feed, you can right-click on that little wheel next to their ‘Follow’ button and you’ll see the option to add or remove from a list…
So you, say, make a list of Twitter uses who write mysteries, say?
Or good, high-quality, reliable tweeters?
But of course.
And you can subscribe to other people’s lists, too?
I love looking for other cool lists to subscribe to. These Twitter folks have already curated the Twitterverse down to something manageable. They’ve done the work for you.
Easy. And you can see who is subscribing to their lists. These are Twitter users who have taken the time to ‘subscribe’ to a good source’s list. They are usually folks who produce good Twitter content (and who might follow you back. So, well, you might want to follow them.)
But how did you get so many followers?
I follow people back. I look at their accounts and if they have a pinned tweet, I re-tweet that as a “hello.” Not always, but sometimes. A pinned tweet is something the account holder likes to have re-tweeted. Why else would they pin it? Or I re-tweet something they recently put out there that looks relevant or interesting. Oh, and make sure you check your followers regularly. Have I mentioned that it’s a good idea to ‘follow back?’ Don’t leave the good ones hanging.
Do you sell books on Twitter?
Yes, I’m sure I do. But I really have no idea. And I don’t care—not really. I don’t go to a party looking to sell books. It might happen, but that’s not why I go to the party. The heavy self-promoters are easy to spot.
What kinds of stuff do you tweet?
Anything relevant to me, as a person. To my community. I tweet topical stuff related to some of my clients—shared bicycling, ocean health, education, and some of the topics that my mysteries are engaged with. That list includes immigration, climate change, for-profit prisons, fracking, anything to do with Glenwood Springs or the Flat Tops Wilderness, etc. I also tweet out things I write, like book reviews. And columns. I’ll probably tweet out this column when it’s posted on the RMFW blog. I’m sure I will.
But how did you get so many followers? Twitter won’t let me follow any more people.
Yeah, Twitter has limits. You need to unfollow people who aren’t following you back. There are services out there that will help you figure out who isn’t following you back. I use one called Manage Flitter. There are others. Don’t worry about unfollowing people—especially accounts that don’t tweet on a regular basis. They aren’t doing you any good. Unfollow.
And then follow more people. And say “hello.”
But isn’t it work? Don’t I have to do this every day? And how much time a day do you spend on Twitter?
Have to? If you think of it that way, it’s probably not your cup of social media tea. But Twitter is a great place to pick up on the news (WOW is it fast!) and also when a good topic gets rolling around about reading or writing or book prizes or anything along those lines, jump into the conversation and see what you can contribute. I know area bookstores love it when you tweet about events coming up or while you're there. You just never know. How much time? I don’t know. Some days more than others. A half-hour total? Maybe three or four check-ins a day? I don’t know, it’s fun. At least, I think so. The #fridayreads hashtag alone will lead you to some good folks.
Ack, hashtags. We haven't even touched on hashtags. What do you use?
Again, depends on what you're into. Here's a list to start with. #NaNoWriMo is coming right up (write up) and that will be going strong no doubt. And don't forget the ever-popular #RMFWBlog. (You could focus just on @RMFWriters (4,200+ followers) by the way, and have ample fodder for following and re-tweeting, etc. And how many Colorado writer groups are there? It's endless out there, I tell you.)
Okay, then. Can I follow you?
And while you’re at it, follow my good friend The Asphalt Warrior @Asphalt_Warrior
See you in the Twittersphere.