Marketing Monday: Self-Marketing in the Time of Twitter
For methodical individuals with a deep-seated respect for classic methods of communication (i.e. most writers), joining Twitter for the first time can feel like walking into a Gatsby party in full swing. You might find yourself faced with a daunting cacophony of racy avatars and conflicting subject matter, desperately wondering… Where is the helpful—yet obnoxiously wordy—narrator who’s supposed to tell you who’s who, what’s what, and basically what the hell is going on?
Unfortunately, Twitter has no talking paperclip. Thus, experiencing the brave new world of Twitter for the first time, without any kind of social media spirit guide, it’s all too easy to assume that this odd little online community has no tangible rules. That, like the Cole Porter song suggests, Anything Goes.
But that’s actually not true. In fact, the Twitter community has some of the most complex (yet often unspoken) social mores of any other platform. And if you break those rules—whether intentionally or no—you might find yourself missing out on the best part of the party. Or worse, standing in the corner, wondering why no one wants to talk to you.
FRET NOT, belated Twitter partygoers! Because I’m about to give you THREE SIMPLE RULES for self-marketing on Twitter. Are you ready? Here we go:
RULE #1: Twitter (like most social media platforms) is a TWO WAY STREET. You have to give something to get something.
- Offer valuable content, appreciable humor, and a good online experience. Seek those things out in others. When you find something good, share (RT) it.
- You can’t expect people to follow you or care about your message if you don’t follow them or seem to care about theirs.
- If your TL is 100% you, all the time, (i.e. no Re-Tweets) it’s going to seem like all you care about is spreading your own message. The gospel of you. It’s the social media equivalent of being that guy at the party who monopolizes the conversation with unsolicited information about his stock portfolio. DON’T BE THAT GUY.
- Don’t ask people to follow you. Follow them, if you like what they have to say. If you don’t like what they have to say, don’t follow them.
- Team Followback is a thing, yes. But who wants to hang out with the kind of guy/gal who will hang around with just anyone, no questions asked? (HOOLIGANS, THAT’S WHO.)
- If you want a lot of followers, EARN THEM. There are COUNTLESS blog posts on the internet about how to do this. So many that I won’t go into too much detail here. The important thing I want to reiterate now is: DO NOT BUY FOLLOWERS.
RULE #2: Twitter is a social COMMUNITY. It is NOT a Public Service Announcement (PSA) portal, or a PR machine, or a soap box for you to share your political/societal beefs.
- Find a good example (or ten), and follow them. RT them until you get the hang of your own platform and author brand. Flatter them by imitating their overall social media persona. (But DO NOT steal tweets. Tweet-stealing is considered a party foul of epic proportions.)
- You’re not just in it to get followers, or build a fan base. (Or if you are, you shouldn’t be.) You’re on Twitter to find people who are interested in the things you’re interested in. You’re on Twitter to build lasting, mutually beneficial RELATIONSHIPS.
- Whether it be with fellow authors, publishing professionals, comedians who get your humor reflexes, or potential readers. You’re building a community for yourself, and it should be one you (and other people) would actually want to live in.
- Don’t invite people into your community if they’re going to bust the place up, or offend your other party guests. Keep in mind the kind of audience you’re looking for (in all aspects of your online author persona) and try to choose content that speaks to those people. Anything too extreme or too far outside the realm of pertinent subject matter should be avoided. (This includes radical political rants, offensive language or subject matter, and any kind of abusive language, personal slander or racial/sexist slurs. Obscure subject matter should be used sparingly. Doctor Who jokes are usually okay no matter who you are, in my experience. But I could be biased.)
RULE #3: There are hundreds, even THOUSANDS of Twitter users who break Rule #1 and Rule #2. Some of them even seem to get away with it. That doesn’t mean you can, or should.
- I’ve said this before but I’m going to say it again one more time. Because it’s important. ALWAYS be conscious of your web presence/persona. Even if you think you’re the online equivalent of a wallflower. Everything you do or say online should reflect your intended author persona in real life.
- The internet is FOREVER. You might be obscure now, but someday, third-graders in Cleveland might be Googling you (or Skynet Searching you) for a class project. And MySpace, though supposedly dead, is still accessible to anyone who knows what they’re doing on a computer. True story: a few weeks ago, I found out I still had a HotOrNot.com profile. From high school. YOU NEVER KNOW.
- When composing a tweet, ask yourself “who is reading this?” (hint: the answer is all your current followers, and probably your mom) and then “who might read this?” (hint: anyone who RTs you into someone else’s feed, and all of that person’s followers, and definitely your mom) and finally, “who would I really want to read this?” (prospective agents, editors, publishers, your mom, the President of the United States, and also most likely your Grandmother, if Uncle Carl is helping her with the computer.)
That’s it for now, kiddies! Thanks for joining, and stay tuned for next week’s mystery topic, on the occasionally bombastic but always pertinent MARKETING MONDAY!
Veronica Park works as an Acquisitions / Marketing Editor for REUTS Publications.
She is also an author, journalist and social media / marketing consultant with more than five years of experience editing for publication. You can find her frolicking around on Twitter (far too often) @VeroniKaboom, or through many other online portals which are all linked to her website: http://veronicaparkauthor.com/about/.