If you're not using Twitter as a part of your author platform, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.
First of all, Twitter is all about conversations.
Unlike almost every other platform, Twitter is all about right now. No one goes to Twitter to look you up and see what you posted yesterday or last week. Twitter isn't a resource that will show up in search engine results. It's just conversations. Who is saying what, are they talking to you, and should you answer back.
But that's where your audience is. That's where your readers are talking to other readers. Recommending books and posting their book reviews. Checking for updates from authors, publishers, and everyone inbetween. They're all there — holding conversations and listening for you to jump in.
So getting your side of the conversation right is important.
Tweets have an average lifespan of about an hour or two depending on how fast the conversation is going and how many people are in on it. Sometimes, depending if something big is going on, people will gather together tweets on a particular topic. And sometimes when you get a new follower, that person will skim through the top of your profile and see the most recent tweets you've sent out. Other than these couple exceptions though, you can be sure that your tweets will disappear shortly after they've flown away.
That means it's virtually impossible to stay current on Twitter without investing a lot of time. Or at least without a lot of notifications blowing up on you. If you're using Twitter effectively, people are liking and retweeting your tweets, talking to you, and expecting you to talk back.
How Often Should You Tweet?
Social media experts recommend anywhere from 20-25 tweets per day for optimum engagement, with 22 being the sweet spot. Less than that and not enough people will see you, more than that and you'll start to fade into the background. So, assuming you sleep for 8 hours a day (I know no one actually sleeps 8 hours a day, but if you do, please share your secret), this averages out to tweeting one post every 45 minutes.
A new tweet every 45 minutes! Who can keep up with that?
Here's the deal. You're trying to run a business, right? You're trying to write that next book, edit, find a cover artist, submit queries to agents and publishers. Who has time to sit on Twitter, craft 22 tweets a day, and hold genuine conversations? Even using all the content curation sites won't help you reach that number without spending a serious chunk of your time.
What About Automating your Tweets?
Automating Twitter might feel like a good idea. After all, if it's one less thing for you to have to worry about, then that's more time for you to work on everything else. But automation ends up turning off a lot of people. No one likes it when they call a company and get a recording. They want to talk to you. Not some robot posting on your behalf.
Trust me on this, learn from the mistakes others have made. Some things can (and even should) be automated. Others should be done personally.
That's where this guide comes in handy. I'll show you my system of blending real-time and pre-scheduled posts to maximize my Twitter engagement, increase my followers, and strengthen my overall author platform.
Step 1: Find out when the best time to Tweet is.
First, you need to figure out when the majority of your audience is online and active. Now, if you go to your favorite search engine and ask for the best times to tweet on Twitter, you'll find several general times. General consensus among all the articles out there is:
- Twitter users are more active during their commute to and from work or school, and on their lunch break.
- Highest retweet times will be between 7-8 AM, 12-1 PM, and 5-6 PM Monday through Friday.
- For business to consumer engagement, Twitter users are more likely to click through links during the weekends between 1PM and 3PM.
That's a pretty good start. But it's also fairly generic. What you want to do is figure out when your followers are online so you can craft a schedule that works best for you.If you want a more specific analysis of when your audience is online and engaging, I like Followerwonk. Type in your Twitter name and select “analyze their followers.” Within a few minutes, Followerwonk will show you an in-depth report about your followers including where they are geographically, how long they've been on Twitter, and their Social Authority Score. Additionally, it shows you this:
An hourly breakdown of your followers and when they are most active. Eeep! The possibilities are endless!
Reading the Analysis of Your Followers
Okay, so I know by this that I want to do most of my planned posts between 8AM and 10AM. And thanks to all the social media experts gathering their analytics on Twitter users, I know I want to make sure that the posts I want to be retweeted get posted 12PM and 1PM or 7PM and 8PM… And the posts with links I want people to visit should be posted on the weekends between 8AM and 10AM or between 1PM and 3PM (with at least 1-2 hours between any links). All times are my local time here in Mountain Time, USA.
Now, that's a schedule! More importantly, that's a schedule I can work with.
Finding a Scheduler
Next, it's time to find a scheduler. There are several to choose from, so make sure you choose one that works best for you. (I have a page here where I compare the different schedulers that I've tried).
Once you're set up and running, it's time to make up your schedule and go. Select the day and time according to the scheduler you've chosen, and then select your network. Follow the onscreen prompts to add any photos or links to your tweet and hit done.
And that is it. Easy right?
Don't Schedule Everything
I said earlier, Twitter is not something you should just set to automate and leave alone. No one wants to try to talk to you and just get an automated reply from a robot. But at the same time, when you tweet that handy new link to your new blog post or your favorite cat video, no one cares if you were sitting at your computer when you wrote that or if you scheduled it ahead of time. So, what kind of posts should you schedule? I'm glad you asked!
The types of posts you schedule are going to depend a little bit on what you want your Twitter followers to know about you. I like my Twitter followers to know that I am a writer and that I have a blog about writing. So my Tweets tweets tend to center around those areas. In fact, here is my favorite list of ten tweets that can (and should) be scheduled every day. Following this list will give you the first half of your daily tweets, freeing up valuable time.
Download this free Daily Twitter Routine list
Here are my tips for using this list:
- If you're not already active on Twitter, don't try to schedule all ten on day one. Start with five and work your way up.
- If your followers aren't already engaging (liking and retweeting) on your posts, try engaging with their posts first.
- Remember, no one goes to Twitter to have a conversation with a robot. Fill in the gaps with actual, live tweets and conversations: Retweet others' tweets, answer questions, say hello, thank your followers.