Let’s talk about Twitter.
As always, this particular post is geared toward writers, since that’s what I am and that’s why I use Twitter. But some of the advice is good for everyone, so stick around even if you aren’t a writer.
Twitter is a social media platform, and one of the only ones I regularly use. (The other is Instagram. Count me out of the rest of them because a girl only has so much time for social media, writing, reading, and watching unhealthy amounts of Gossip Girl on Netflix.) The point of Twitter is to communicate with others and shout out your 140 characters of insight into the world.
The thing is, some people use Twitter in a total jerk way, whether they realize it or not. I’m here to give you some Twitter Etiquette in the form of a thinly veiled rant.
Twitter Etiquette rule number 1: DO NOT EVER, for any reason, under any circumstance, send an automatic DM when someone follows you. I’m not even sure how you do this, but some people have a thing set up to where when I follow you, I will instantly get a Direct Message from “you”, but it’s an auto generated robot message you send to everyone. Something stupid like “Hi, thanks for following! Make sure to buy my book at [Amazon link]!”
Uh, no. Everyone hates this. No one likes it. PLEASE DO NOT SEND AUTO DMs. In fact, I immediately unfollow a person who does that to me. Chances are, if you send auto DMs, you also break the rest of these rules and I can’t follow people who treat Twitter in this way.
Twitter Etiquette rule number 2: Twitter is not your never-ending advertisement feed. As authors, we have promotional links to share with the world. Our books go on sale, our books release into the world, our books need more reviews, etc. At the very most, I’ll allow ONE promo tweet a day. Anything more is excessive and gets you either unfollowed or muted. No one follows an author online because they want to be asked to buy the same book 50 times a day. They follow an author because they like the author, and that means they already know about your books. PLEASE, be a decent person and keep the promotions to a minimum.
When it’s acceptable to promote on Twitter:
You have a new book deal! Heck yeah, tweet about it!
It’s release day for your book! ABSOLUTELY! Let us know! We follow you because we like you and we want to know when your book is out.
Your book is on SALE! YAY! Tell us! Unless your book is perpetually on sale and several years old, in which case, we already own it, we don’t need to know. One tweet a day, folks. That’s all we need.
It’s your book’s cover reveal day! Everyone loves a cover reveal. Let us see it.
You have book signings coming up! Definitely let us know.
You have a new Pinterest inspiration board/cute Instagram photo from a blogger/picture of your book next to a puppy/etc. Tweet it! It’s unique and not the same old crap.
Someone uber-famous in the writing world left you a great review. Show us! Let me be jealous of you and your 5 star review from a NYT bestselling author.
What’s not okay to do on Twitter:
That cute quote image of your book with the best line you’ve written, posted 10 times a day, every day. NO.
Just an Amazon link to your book with some line about how we should totally buy it. NO.
The same same same same same cover image every day, all day, repeatedly asking me to buy your book. NO.
Twitter Etiquette rule number 3: Keep religion and politics off your feed. Unless you are a religious or political writer and that is your brand, please spare us your commentary on the topics. Regardless of if you’re voting for Thing 1 or Thing 2, no one cares. You’ll either A) be voting for the same person your followers are, in which case, who cares? You’re already alike, or B) be voting for the candidate your follower hates, thus making them dislike you. If people dislike you, they won’t read your books, they won’t connect with you, and you’ll lose out on potential readers. This is a real thing. I’ve read some pretty idiotic political commentary and have been so turned off I had to unfollow several people. At the very least, I have about 25 people muted for this election period because I can’t stand reading their constant political drivel when I’m on twitter specifically to talk about writing and teen books.
Save the politics for Thanksgiving dinner with family members and for that guy down the street who loves discussing this with you. Please keep it off Twitter.
Twitter Etiquette rule number 4: Always be nice. Honestly, this is the Golden Rule here, but it needs to be expanded for online use. Words don’t translate well in written form when you can’t tell if someone is joking or being a jerk. I happen to be insanely sarcastic, and while I think the deadpan delivery of my sarcasm in real life usually hits home and people find it funny, it doesn’t necessary work online.
If someone tweets you “Happy Book Release day!” and you simply reply “thanks” … no capitals, no exclamation mark, no fun emoji or dancing gif, it could come off as rude. That’s just one example, and I’m sure you’ve seen many more online. If you’re being sarcastic, use an emoji. Otherwise, you could alienate people who think you’re just rude. It’s always helpful to be overly nice in your comments and tweets, that way no one gets the wrong impression.
I’ve learned this lesson several times by tweeting something I think is funny, but someone else thinks I’m being literal/serious and gets upset. Not everyone understands sarcasm, and it’s always better to err on the side of being polite and friendly anyway.
Twitter Etiquette rule number 5: Only follow people because you want to. There’s this fairly new trend in Twitter, and I blame all of those outside websites that promise to “build followers” and make you “Twitter famous” and that trend is this: Follow hundreds of writers on Twitter and then in 48 hours, if they haven’t followed you back, unfollow them and follow them again.
WHY IS THIS A THING, PEOPLE????
Do you think I don’t notice??
I am someone who actually uses Twitter the way it was intended, by making friends and chatting about common interests in the writing world. I do not simply follow every single person ever, because then I’d have a cluttered feed and would have no good content to read as I scroll through Twitter, procrastinating my work for the day. I know the point of this follow, unfollow, follow, unfollow repeatedly thing is in the hopes that someone will follow you back. But it doesn’t work on me.
I check out every person who follows me. If you’re a YA reader/writer/blogger, I’ll follow back happily. If you write adult horror books (something I don’t read) and your feed is 100% promo tweets, then I don’t follow back. I don’t care what you’ve read in marketing books, doing this doesn’t get you friends and it doesn’t get you readers. I will NEVER see someone following me every other day for 2 weeks and then say, “You know what? I think I’ll buy that person’s book!” It doesn’t work that way. I buy books of authors I care about, and it’s usually after getting to know them online for months.
That also leads me to:
Twitter Etiquette rule number 6: Fill out your bio. Let people know who you are. Sure, it’s funny to put “I live in lala land” on your Twitter bio, but if that’s all it says, I don’t know anything about you. Are you a reader? Writer? Blogger? Did you add me by mistake because you think I’m that other Cheyanne Young who’s big into yoga and fitness? I check out everyone’s bio before I follow them, and it’s helpful (especially if you’re a writer) who let us know you’re a writer. Same goes for your website. If you have one, put it in your bio. I visit everyone’s website when I first follow them, and I actually have purchased their books because of it.
I’m on Twitter to make connections with other writerly people, just like you are. What better way to connect with someone than to communicate with the REAL them, via fun tweets and book talk? I don’t want to follow robot accounts that only update with pre-written promotional tweets. No one does. If you plan on using Twitter in this way, I urge you to reconsider. Try being a REAL human being on there, having REAL conversations, and joining in on the fun. People pay attention to real people. They skim over promotional tweets and unfollow people who only want to talk about their own book.
That wraps it up for today. Let me know what you think in the comments, and I’d love to hear your other Twitter Etiquette rules!