Social Marketing 101: Four Author No-No’s on Twitter

by Beth Isaacs

Most of you know that for the past five years I’ve been consulting with authors on social marketing and networking. What I’ve learned is that some authors, both traditional and indie, don’t understand how to use social media, nor the power it has on their bottom line.

Here’s the thing: Social networks are designed to build relationships, not sell products.  Let me say that again.

Social networks are designed to build relationships, not sell products.

This is where authors often stumble. Somewhere along the way they’ve gotten the impression that the best marketing strategy is to shout out sell pages, make demands of their followers, and add “call-to-action” statements on the bottom of every post.

That doesn’t inspire readers … it annoys the hell out of them.

Too, another problem is that most of us don’t think about the social norms within the structure of the social site’s environment. For example, Facebook is geared toward in-depth discussions, whereas Pinterest is for the visual “net surfing” crowd. Instagram is loved by the teen/college readers, as is Tumblr, and both seem to be geared toward a “concentrated message” type of approach. LinkedIn is for our white-collar business types, while Twitter is fast-paced and used by everyone.

My point is each of these sites has its own distinct personality, which needs to be respected–especially by authors who are looking to reach new readers.

And so, for the next six weeks we’ll be delving into certain social networks and how authors successfully use them to broaden their platform.

One common thread among all the networks is that authors must respect those on the site. No one likes spam. Links to sell pages, reviews, sell pages, newsletters, sell pages … well, you get the gist, is the epitome of spam. (By the way, the term “spam” was coined after a Monty Python skit in which a restaurant served spam with everything).

While promotional posts are extremely important, they should never be the bulk of your feed. A good ratio is 5:1 (5 personal posts for every 1 promotional).

This week, we are centering the discussion in the wonderful land of Twitter. The life of a tweet is a scant five to seven minutes long, and so it is acceptable to repost tweets once or twice a day. Never post the same tweets multiple times in a row.

I often refer to twitter as “the ADD of social marketing.” It’s like having several conversations at once. While some think the site moves too fast, I would caution you not underestimate the power of a tweet.

With only 120 usable characters (there’s actually 140, but it’s smart to save 20 characters for retweeting), every space counts. You can track how successful your tweets are by how many retweets, likes, or comments they get.

If you’re new to the twitterverse, here are four huge no-no’s that tend to turn readers away.

#4 — Automatic Direct Message with a call to action.

Huge mistake. Huge.

This person has just connected with you, and already you’re bombarding them with “like my stuff,”  which makes readers feel used.

And no one wants to feel used.

While I know some articles emphatically state that automatic direct messages on twitter is a must, I disagree. Why do you think Twitter added the “Marked as Read” feature to the top of your message feed? It’s because few people even read messages on twitter anymore.

#3 — Not interacting with those following you.

All right, I could post numerous examples of this, but I think that would be mean. We’ve all seen this type of tweeter. It’s the author that streams nothing but URLs. No interaction. No retweeting or sharing of someone else’s stuff. They have the philosophy “It’s all about me, baby!”

But what they fail to remember is social networking is called “social” for a reason. Take a few minutes every day to actually go through your feed and retweet someone else, or comment back to those that followed or mentioned you. Again, DO NOT start it with a “hey, thanks for the RT! Check out my book!” (need I mention Monty Python again?)

#2 — Use Twit Validation Service

If you are a teen or someone who uses twitter only to interact with close friends and family, by all means, this is for you. But if you’re an author looking to find new readers, you’re bending yourself over a barrel here. This creates an extra step just to follow you. Too, the reader has to join the service in order to be “validated.” I’ve found that most people who follow someone and then are required to go through a validation service find it easier to just unfollow and move on.

Make is as easy as possible for your readers to find you. Always.

#1 — Don’t link other networks to Twitter.

Hello? Didn’t we discuss that tweets have a 5 to 7-minute shelf life? While over-sharing in other networks is taboo, it’s a great thing on Twitter. So be sure to tick those little boxes on Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon and post on twitter too!

It doesn’t take a ton of time to maintain a Twitter account. Allot five minutes in the morning and at night to jump on twitter and interact with those that have mentioned you, retweeted, or shared a post. It’s definitely ten minutes out of your day well spent.

If you simply don’t have time every day to tweet, Hootsuite is a great way to “load” tweets that will post throughout the week. (pssst… if you use this, still check in and interact with fans. They love it when you do! 🙂 )

Next week we’ll delve into the ever-changing world of Facebook!