Several people have asked me how I’ve gained so many Twitter followers since deciding to dive into the Twitterverse six months ago. My standard answer has been, “I followed people, and most of them followed me back.” It really was more complicated than that, though, so in honor of reaching 5,000 followers, I’m addressing the question in a series of three posts. This advice is geared toward writers, but many of the principles will remain the same whatever your field. Unless you’re brand new to Twitter, you will have already completed some of these steps, but perhaps you’ll still find some helpful ideas.
Step 1–Set the Stage
Create a profile people will want to follow. This is your first impression, so make it a good one, using a carefully crafted bio, a great photo and background images that reflect your writing style. You can see what I’ve done at @sdkeeling.
Bio—Ask yourself, why would people be interested in you? Who are you trying to connect with? You can’t capture your entire personality in 160 characters, so showcase interests you share with the people you most want to attract.
Be specific! It helps you stand out and find others with like interests. Don’t just say you’re a writer, tell us what you’re writing. Give the genre rather than the title. Titles often convey little information for someone who’s not familiar with your writing.
Use hashtags so that people can find you when they search for certain terms, like the subject or genre of your book.
Fill in your location. I’ve made friends on Twitter from the opposite side of the world, but it grabs my attention when I see another writer who lives nearby.
Don’t forget your website! People often click through to learn more about you. You can give a link to your Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon—just give them somewhere to go!
Photo—Don’t be an egg. Any photo is better than no photo, but it’s worth taking some time to choose the right one. This is a big part of your first impression, so think about the image you want to project—Professional? Friendly? Funny? Sexy? Edgy?
Seriously consider having a professional photographer create a headshot for you. You may be able to do this inexpensively at a writers’ convention, such as the Ozarks Romance Authors conference. A classic piece of career advice is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. That applies here as well. Successful agents and authors tend to use professional images to add polish to their presentation. If you want to look like you belong in that crowd, hire a professional photographer and dress for success.
Background Images—A custom header and background image can really make your profile stand out and contribute to your branding.
Published authors tend to incorporate their book covers or other artwork related to their books. I used images from my trip to Egypt, along with a little creative Photoshop work, to create an ancient Egyptian atmosphere to represent my time travel adventure novel.
Pay attention to design details. I gave a single warm brown tone to both my header and background images, creating a harmonious look that sets a mood without being visually cluttered. Be careful that your header does not interfere with the readability of your bio text, and that important parts of the image are not hidden behind your photo. You may want to enlist the help of a friend who is talented at graphic design, or hire someone from Fiverr to help you out.
It can take some time to get your profile just right, but it’s worth the effort. After all, you never know when a fellow writer, agent or future reader might be taking a look.
Come back next week for Step 2–Getting Your Feet Wet!