Social Networking For Authors: Tips For Using Twitter Effectively

Social networking is now a mainstream form of communication and online marketing, and many authors are using one of the big networks e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube. I have been on Twitter a year now and it has been amazingly successful for me, so I wanted to share some of my tips for effective use in the hope you can avoid my mistakes!

Tips For Using Twitter Effectively

  • Decide on your niche and stick with it. This is similar to the author branding idea. People follow people they are interested in. If you stay on topic, you will get followers who are interested in you, they will retweet you and you’ll get more followers in the niche. And so it expands. If you don’t stay on topic, your followers will be a mixed bunch and you won’t appeal to them all.
  • If you want to grow followers, tweet useful information regularly. People retweet useful information, they don’t retweet personal updates. New followers who are interested in the topic will appear after RTs. You do need a mix of updates but I find followers grow faster when you have a high RT %.
  • Attribute posts to others as it 1) gets their attention in a positive way and creates better relationship 2) enables you to tweet links without being blocked by Twitter as a spammer. Check the terms and conditions – you will be blocked if you tweet a lot of links with no @ attribution
  • Create relationships with other bloggers in your niche. After a while of mutual tweeting, you will find you connect with people, and you can help each other with tweeting links, plus guest posting, interviews and more. The majority of my podcast interviews have come from relationships I have developed on twitter.
  • Schedule tweets across timezones for multi-cultural followers. This is essential if you live somewhere like Australia! I use SocialOomph to schedule tweets every 3-4 hours in 24 hour period (it’s free). This enables me to reach people across all timezones and also saves me time. I schedule 80% of my tweets at the weekends after reading the blogs and catch up with what has happened in the week.
  • Use Twitter clients for easy management. I use TweetDeck on the PC and Tweetie on the iPhone. There are stacks more available, just find the one that is right for you.
  • Market your blog or your book through attraction/pull marketing. You can’t join twitter and expect to get a flood of traffic and sales to your site. It is a social networking site and rewards you for time and effort put in. There is a cumulative effect over time. I started with zero followers a year ago and now have over 12,000. This is a slow growth approach based on time, effort and being useful. I have not used any of the so called techniques for quickly getting followers. People find my site based on the tweets I put out there sporadically when I post a new blog article, or when they click through my profile to find out more about me. Then they may buy my books, download the free information and subscribe. This is the only long term solution for getting Twitter traffic and marketing. Give first, and you will receive. Twitter is one of the top 3 traffic producers for this site. That’s why it is worth using.
  • Back up your tweets. If you tweet links, people are often interested in finding out what you have been tweeting. The main twitter site is not so good for this, so I use Friendfeed to direct all my tweets into. People can subscribe to my Friendfeed to find the backlist of information.

Don’t Do The Following

  • Don’t auto-DM people when they follow you, it is a mark of a newbie and obviously not a personal message so is completely pointless. Many people will unfollow for auto-DMs, especially those that promote a product.
  • Don’t spam i.e. don’t tweet your own stuff all the time. You will go nowhere fast. Give first and you will receive.
  • Don’t be negative or offensive, don’t rant. Twitter is generally a positive place and people will unfollow for negativity and ranting. It is a public forum people, so just don’t go there!

Some Useful Posts on Twitter

Here is a list of people I regularly RT on Twitter => Bloggers I Follow. Start by following them if you are new to Twitter.

Thanks to Debbie @inkyelbows for the great cartoon!

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. says

    Thanks, Joanna! Really useful tips. I’m a newbie to blogging and a newbie to twitter, and I’m still learning to navigate my way through both scenes. It’s good to know that I’ve done some things right so far, like trying to tweet the useful articles I run across. Thanks again!

  2. Sujata Pednekar says

    You can use SpokenTwitter. It is simple to use , no limit of 140 characters of text, no need to tweet from computer, no internet connection required, listen to your Twitter Timeline, Reply, Delete and Retweet from any phone. You have to register your phone number from which you wish to speak your tweets.

  3. says

    As always, solid well researched advice. One thing I always do is keep my tweets to 80-100 chars so people can retweet, add their moniker and their comments – also helps to get RT’ed twice or more :-)

  4. says

    Well, Joanna, I’m a year late to the party of this blog post — but still, thanks so much for the great tips! I’ve been on Twitter almost a year but didn’t really start using it until three months ago. Based on your tips, I see that I’ve been doing a lot of things right (encouraging!) — and a few things wrong (ahhh, a challenge!).

    I especially appreciate what you say about focusing my niche and staying useful. Those are probably the two areas I need to work on most. I have a lot of interests, so I have to remind myself that most of my followers follow me because of only one or two of those interests!

  5. says

    Joanna, I’m new to Twitter and not clear on what you mean by Attribute Posts to Others. I mainly tweet about writing and publishing, and often include links to interesting articles. Are you saying that I should mention a specific follower in these tweets so I won’t be classed as a spammer?

    • says

      Hi Ian, yes, that’s right – although usually it is a blogger who might not be a follower – yet. So you could tweet the link to this post ‘by @thecreativepenn’ and I will see your tweet and follow you (which is when I generally follow back). This stops you being a spammer in twitter’s eyes but also helps you network with others which is the point of social networking really! Obviously you don’t attribute your own posts but they should only be 20% of what you tweet.
      You might also like this article
      Thanks, Joanna

      • says

        Thanks very much, Joanna, I appreciate you taking the time. I’ve had 27 novels published and thought I knew a lot about book promotion, but clearly there’s so much to learn in the social sphere.

  6. Andrea Albo says

    Joanne, I am amazed how smart and intelligent you are. You have helped me immensely.
    God Bless!
    Thank you!

  7. Aron Cruise says

    I have 600 followers but they have not proved to be worthwhile to have. The ctr is really low. I get like 1-2 clicks every five times I promote my website and my account and website are about in the same niche.

  8. says

    Really good post – but you are active on several social sites, aren’t you? The buttons on your site say you’re on FB, Google +, Pinterest etc as well as Twitter – but are you saying that you focus most of your attention on Twitter? Thanks

    • says

      Hi Alexandra,
      I have profiles on most social media sites, but I am most active on twitter – it suits me the best :) I suggest authors have profiles everywhere that point back to their home base site / website and email sign up list, and really focus on one place where you can be most active. I don’t think you can do all the sites effectively – that would take WAY too much time. But you get to choose which one works for you. Thanks, Joanna

  9. trish watson says

    Thank you. Very useful. Could I ask if anyone out there has an even more basic ‘how to use twitter’ info, I am an academic and a bit useless at social media stuff. Thanks again Trish


  1. […] If so here are some great information resources.  These came from Joanna Penn’s post on Social Networking for Authors and she offers some do’s and don’ts as well, so be sure to stop in there too.  These […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *