The basic concept of Twitter is to meet other like-minded people, expand your knowledge base of the world and have fun whilst doing it! Don’t approach Twitter as a means to an end, otherwise you will not enjoy the experience and ultimately it will fail. Every day talk to 2 or 3 of your new followers and look to engage in a conversation with them; if they are writers what are they currently working on, or examples of their latest work; if they are readers who are their favourite authors and what do they look for in a book; if they live on the other side of the World how is life there? Engage with other people and the experience will be more personal and you will develop relationships, dare I even say friends, rather than just followers.
Give, don’t just take
Everyone has an opinion, that is one of the joys of life; so don’t be scared to give yours (in a courteous and respectful way of course). If you think one Author is the best, or a particular style of writing is more engaging, then dare to say so and explain why; some people might disagree, but this is part of the pleasure. I always find having to explain, and on occasional even defend my views actually helps me to remember whilst I thought this in the first place, ultimately strengthening them. Occasionally I have changed my mind and viewpoint after someone else has raised valid points; and I love this!
Follow People Back
To build a meaningful following you will need to follow people back who have similar interests or work in the same genre as you. If you do not follow them back shortly after then chances are they will ‘unfollow’ you, and then the connection will be lost.
Before following someone you should have a quick glance at their most recent tweets. Be wary of spamming accounts full of advertisements or promising you thousands of followers, do not follow them back. Look for people who are posting interesting comments and articles, or retweeting others, ensuring they are not merely self-indulgent but also contributing to the community.
Numbers are not everything; quality prevails over quantity. People who engage with you, favourite or retweet your posts are what you are after, so it’s better to have 100 followers who engage regularly with you and retweet than 1,000,000 who don't.
Using Twitter's search function to find hashtags that interest you is the best way to expand your network. Here you can find people who have tweeted that particular hashtag and allow you to follow them accordingly. Personally I tend to search by the #AmWriting and #writetip hashtags to find other authors and people that are talking and blogging about writing. Have a look at their timelines and websites and if you like what they say then follow them; hopefully they will reciprocate!
Observe what your peers do and say, but develop your own style
Everyone should be their own person, not an attempt at being a pale comparison of their literary hero. However, if like me you are a novice to this writing journey, then there is no better place to start than observing how your peers engage on Twitter before adapting and developing your own style. Reviewing the #AmWriting , #writertip, #AmEditing, #Writerslife tags will help you find experienced authors and observe how they utilise Twitter to not just promote their books, but give back to the writing community. Authors should always use Twitter engage with readers about their books, giving them insight and understanding of what their novel entails, not just as a tool to link to their Amazon page!
Do not be a robot
To be a writer you must have a creative spark, an element of artistic flair that separates you from the vast majority of people you meet in day to day life. So when it comes to Twitter, don’t become a robot and tweet the same thing again and again! People like to engage with real people, so ask questions of your followers and comment on posts from people you follow. Try and demonstrate your sense of humour, what your hobbies are, what makes you smile. This will give you a human side as an author and people will thank you for it. On the side of caution, remember anything you tweet will be seen in public so before you tweet always think – is what I'm about to say in any way offensive or damaging to my brand? If the answer is yes, then don’t tweet it! If you have a particularly annoying or even offensive follower then don’t bite back by replying or engaging in insults, just ignore them or block the user. Even if you delete any tweet immediately after, the damage will have been done. If you want to be a serious author and have a long career, then do not be offensive, nor engage in political or religious rants.
Retweeting is key!
Retweeting is the easiest thing to do on Twitter; it helps promote the original person as well as providing a tweet you deemed of interest to your followers – the ideal ‘win-win’! If you are following people that have interesting things to say then share these interesting items with your network. Retweeting is the quickest way to help build everyone's social network organically. People who follow you will see the retweet and may then decide the person you've retweeted is interesting enough to them to follow, creating a connection. Also people who come across your retweet may find both you and the original poster interesting enough to follow, contributing to your own base of followers as well as the original poster.
Of course there is a fine line here; do not turn into a spammer! Tweeting once every minute or so for an extended period of time will lose you followers as you clog up their feed. Make sure you're only retweeting something that you think your following will also be interested in; they will thank you for it!