Twitter! A social media channel that has stood the test of time – 16 years and counting! – and continues to grow and evolve.
As an author, content creator, entrepreneur, or maybe all of the above: are you making the most of Twitter? Read on for an overview of how to get started as an author on Twitter, use Twitter for free and paid brand promotion, sell your books directly from Twitter, and grow your audience. Learn how writers grow on Twitter and how Twitter can help any entrepreneur’s business.
Social Media 101: The Essentials
Regardless of what platform you’re interested in learning more about, there are a few basic principles that remain the same. Keep these social media marketing tips in mind and you’ll be a pro in no time!
1. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Discord, Clubhouse… the list of popular social media channels is ever-evolving and nearly impossible to keep up with. Having a half-hearted and lackluster presence everywhere isn’t going to do much for you or your brand. Instead, focus your effort and energy on two or three social networks your potential audience is already using.
2. Separate Your Brand And Your Personal Page
There is a time and place for showing behind-the-scenes or personal content on your professional profiles – it’s fun, engaging content and helps to both humanize you and make you relatable to your followers. But fans of your brand don’t need to be – or want to be – privy to every status update or photo from Great Aunt Ethyl’s 95th birthday bash.
Create a separate account for your brand, and be selective about what you choose to share there.
3. Use the Same Handle on Every Platform
The easiest way for your fans to find you on their social media platform of choice is to keep it simple. Looking for Lulu on Facebook? It’s @luludotcom. Instagram? @luludotcom. Twitter? You already know! Pick one handle and use it everywhere you go.
Pro Tip: don’t make your handle the title of your book! Stick with something evergreen like your name, your pen name, or your brand/business name.
4. Use the Same Look on Every Platform
Familiarity is your friend! You want your customers, or potential customers, to recognize you when they see you. Use the same profile picture – your professional headshot, your brand logo, your most recent book – on every platform. And, in addition to your profile picture, make use of cover photos on applicable platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. That’s valuable advertising real estate, don’t waste it.
Links to your social media should be readily available everywhere you are – especially your website, your Author Spotlight, and your other social media profiles.
Of course, cross-promotion goes both ways. Your social accounts should link back to your website and your book sales page. Make use of the “link in bio” features wherever possible!
Getting Started on Twitter
Creating a Twitter profile is easy – just download the mobile app or visit twitter.com on your desktop and create an account. Choose your Twitter handle (remember, use the same handle on all your social channels), and you’re ready to start tweeting!
Once you have your account created, you’ll want to explore two of the options in the left-hand sidebar. On mobile, you’ll need to click on your profile picture in the upper left corner in order to see the sidebar, and on desktop you’ll need to hit the “More” button.
First, Twitter Ads, which will allow you to run paid promotional campaigns to advertise your book. Twitter provides an excellent guide to getting started with Twitter Ads Manager.
You may also want to consider Twitter for Professionals, a specific type of account that allows creators, brands, and businesses more robust access to certain Twitter features. It’s not the same thing as being verified – the little checkmark next to your name requires a formal application process and approval from Twitter – but it does help to clearly identify you as a professional brand. Social Media Examiner created a thorough guide to Twitter for Professionals.
Basic Free Promotion on Twitter
Paid promotion on social media sites can be – at times – worth the money, but it’s not the end all be all of social media advertising. There are plenty of ways you can promote and grow your author brand without spending a penny of your marketing budget!
Join the Conversation
Every social media platform has unique features that prove the value of having a presence on that particular app. For many people that use Twitter, the most valuable feature this app offers is how easily it fosters conversations.
It’s ironic, if you consider that Twitter is perhaps the only major social media platform to severely restrict how much a user can say – an individual tweet can include a maximum of 280 characters. Facebook, on the other hand, has a 63,206 character limit, and Instagram allows 2,200 characters in a caption. But Twitter users have found that there are plenty of ways to say what you need to say in 280 characters (or, if you’re like me and you really do have a lot to say, in multiple connected tweets of 280 characters, called threads).
Twitter is not a vacuum, and you cannot treat it as such. Tweeting content to your own profile is only half of what it means to have a presence on Twitter. Interacting with other users by replying to or retweeting (sharing someone else’s tweet to your own page) relevant tweets are also an essential part of having a presence on Twitter.
So remember, as we discuss ideas for free book and brand promotion on Twitter, that you have to do more than just post your own content in order to promote your brand. Be prepared to actively participate in the Twitter community – you might even genuinely enjoy it.
Different Types of Content
Anyone with a social media account knows that videos are The Thing right now. TikTok changed the playing field, and apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are scrambling to join the video-first movement.
However, just because video is trending does not necessarily mean it’s going to be your instant key to success on every platform. In fact, through several years of trial and error, I’ve learned that video content doesn’t perform well for Lulu on Twitter. That’s okay! We save our video content for Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, and focus on tweeting content that we think our Twitter followers are more likely to find valuable.
The point, other than the fact that Twitter may very well be the last bastion of written content, is that we experimented – and you should too. Try a wide variety of content types and content styles on your Twitter and see what works best.
What kind of content types? Try a little bit of everything!
- Do you write blog posts, either for your own blog or guest posting elsewhere? Tweet about it!
- Were you interviewed on a podcast, or did you get a really nice review for your book? Share it!
- Did you write a line in your most recent draft that was just so good that you simply can’t wait until your book is published for other people to read it? Guess what – that’s a tweet. And a great teaser for your new book.
What about different content styles? Again – try everything!
- If you want to conduct your own experiment with video content, try uploading a video directly to Twitter (videos on Twitter are an option, though they are currently limited to 2 minutes 20 seconds) and uploading your video to a third-party app like YouTube and then tweeting a link.
- Promote your new blog post in a single tweet with a link to the longer post, or try writing a thread of a few linked tweets with some key highlights from the post and, at the end, a link to read the whole thing on your blog.
- Try a few tweets with images attached and a few tweets that are exclusively text.
- Consider experimenting with including relevant hashtags (not too many, but one or two can be very useful!), tweeting at other users, and even trying features like Twitter polls.
And of course, don’t forget that you’re participating as an active member of the Twitter community – you don’t have to create all your content from scratch. Did you come across a really interesting article that another expert in your industry wrote and tweeted? Retweet it! You’re still delivering content to your audience, even if you didn’t create the content yourself. Plus, it’s a great way to forge a connection with other creators.
Promoting Your Brand
You may have noticed that of all the content ideas listed in the last section, only two of them were directly about your book. Social media promotion is about more than just promoting your book – in fact, that shouldn’t be your primary objective at all. Instead, your focus should be on promoting your brand.
Books have relatively short lifespans. Once a follower has bought your book, they’re unlikely to buy additional copies. So unless you’re churning out 2-3 books a year (and if you are, please share your secrets immediately), exclusively book-focused promotion might get you a few sales here and there, but it isn’t going to sustain your fanbase. By promoting your brand, and proving that you share relevant, informational, and engaging content, you have a better chance of making a fan out of a follower.
So how do you promote your brand?
Share content that isn’t just about your book! Are you speaking or appearing at any upcoming events? Do you have an email list that you’d like your followers to sign up for? Have there been any big updates, announcements, or conversations happening in your genre or field of interest? Do you have any fun behind-the-scenes insight into your brand or writing process?
And again – you don’t have to create all this content from scratch. Quote tweet – retweeting someone else’s tweet with your own commentary added to the original tweet – content from news outlets or other creators. Add your own thoughts, reaction, interpretation, or hot take. Even just that much can show other Twitter users that you’re someone who can provide them with interesting content while also establishing yourself as a knowledgeable voice in your field.
Promoting Your Book
While the primary objective of social media marketing is to promote your brand, that doesn’t mean that you should never promote your book. You should absolutely promote your book! But social media book marketing isn’t as simple as just dropping your bookstore URL in a tweet with some spam tags and hoping for the best (in fact, please don’t do that).
First and foremost, do NOT wait until your book is available for purchase to start promoting it on social media. Pre-launch is an incredible opportunity to build anticipation around your upcoming release; don’t waste that time! You can tease your book by sharing content like:
- A cover reveal to show off your gorgeous new artwork.
- Chapter titles, quotes, or section summaries.
- Start a countdown to your launch and your official launch party.
- Update your Twitter Header Image to advertise your upcoming book, including the cover art and release date.
- Reviews from beta readers, or friends/family/peers that have already read your book.
What about after your book is published? There’s still plenty of content to post! Keep sharing great reviews, spotlights in online publications or other media outlets, guest blog appearances, etc.
If you run any special discounts or seasonal sales (especially around the holidays!) make sure you share those with your Twitter followers. Host contests and giveaways for free copies of both your new book and, if you have any, your older books.
Finally, make sure that you’re making the most of two very specific features on Twitter – the link in your bio and your pinned tweet. On Twitter (and several other social media platforms) you’re allowed to include exactly one link in your bio, so it’s very important that you make that link count. You may want to link directly to your website or bookstore, to a “reference page” like Linktree that allows you to curate a whole list of relevant links, or maybe even to a shop page by using the Shopify Starter Plan.
But one creative way many authors have found to circumnavigate the single link limitation is by making use of their pinned tweet. You are allowed to “pin” one tweet to the top of your profile, which will keep that tweet right there and readily accessible no matter how many new tweets you post after it. Put together a tweet that includes links specifically to your book (or books) and your preferred sales outlet and pin that to the top of your page!
Measuring Your Success
You’re doing all of this work – creating content, engaging with other creators, joining in conversations with both your followers and strangers; it’s time-consuming and no small amount of effort. So how do you know if it paid off?
There are a few different types of engagements on Twitter posts that are valuable to track:
- Engagements – a catch-all phrase for any interaction with your post, including likes, replies, retweets, link clicks, other clicks, and video views. On Twitter, most engagements can be helpful – even something as simple as a like can make your post appear on other Twitter users’ home feeds. The more engagement a post has, the more users it will be delivered to.
- Likes – the Facebook classic, repurposed for Twitter! A like – pressing the heart button – allows users to show support for a post without replying or retweeting. If you visit another user’s profile on Twitter you can view what posts they’ve liked, which is a great opportunity for other users to discover your content.
- Replies – essentially the Twitter version of a comment, replies allow other users to add their thoughts in response to a specific tweet. Replies can be viewed as a thread beneath an individual tweet by clicking on the tweet to “open” the thread.
- Retweets – Twitter users can share someone else’s tweet in one of two ways – a generic retweet, which reposts the original tweet onto their own profile with no additions, or a quote tweet, which allows the retweeter to add their own comment, thoughts, or context. Retweets are the best way to get your tweets in front of a new audience!
- Link Clicks – how many people clicked on the link you shared in your post.
- Other Clicks – any post click that isn’t a specific metric listed above. This could include clicking on the tweet or thread to read it through (“detail expands”), clicking to see who liked a tweet, etc.
- Impressions (People Reached) – The total number of people who saw your tweet. Impressions do not necessarily equal engagement, so impressions are not a super valuable metric on their own, but they can help put your other metrics into perspective.
- Engagement Rates – the percentage of people that saw your post (impressions) and engaged with it. Twitter itself doesn’t report engagement rates, but many third-party social media management tools do, and it can be pretty useful. For example, you might consider that a post that has 275 impressions and 8 engagements – an engagement rate of 2.9% – performed better than a post that has 1,103 impressions and 13 engagements – an engagement rate of 1.2%
Did you notice a metric missing here? Guess what – the number of followers you have doesn’t matter, it’s purely a vanity metric. You can still connect with a valuable network of fans and other authors, and find great success for your brand, with a small number of followers. Because, as we know, followers do not equal fans.
All of these metrics (and more) can be found directly on Twitter. You may also want to look into using a third-party social scheduling and listening tool like Sprout Social or Hootsuite, especially if you plan to be very active on more than one social media platform. And of course, if you’re not already, you should absolutely be making use of Google Analytics and UTM Tags.
Basic Paid Promotion on Twitter
While your day-to-day Twitter engagement will be free, organically created, or shared content, you can also use Twitter for paid promotion! Let’s consider three different types of paid Twitter campaigns.
One of the features included with Twitter for Professionals is the opportunity to promote tweets. This allows you to put money behind delivering a specific tweet to a customized audience of your fans, strangers, or both.
Tweeting content to your own profile is only half of what it means to have a presence on Twitter.
I’ll be honest – through my trial and error experimentation on Twitter, I haven’t found promoted tweets to be particularly successful. However, that’s the point of experimenting – finding out what works and what doesn’t! Don’t take my lackluster enthusiasm for promoted tweets as a sign that you shouldn’t experiment with them yourself.
If you do, consider the following variables:
- Experiment with different audience types. Twitter allows you to get really creative with your targeting, don’t be afraid to try different options and see what generates the most success!
- Keep your budget in mind! Even $5 a day adds up quickly – it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent on a promoted tweet. Plan ahead with a budget and stick to it. Twitter will allow you to set a maximum spend on any campaign; you may want to take advantage of that feature.
- While I encourage retweeting and quote-tweeting other creators’ content, I do not encourage boosting a post that links to someone else’s content! If you’re putting money behind an active ad, make sure that ad is going to lead people to your website or bookstore page.
Pro Tip #1: if you do choose to promote a tweet, you can do so directly from your Twitter feed – just hit the button under the tweet that says “Promote.” Twitter will walk you through a “Quick Promote” menu with a few easy prompts to get your promotion up and running.
However, those quick prompts don’t allow for much customization. You can always go into your Twitter Ads Manager after promoting a tweet and customize your promotion even further!
Pro Tip #2: if you, like me, find after your experimentation that the promoted tweet feature doesn’t really work for you, consider this workaround. Create an ad campaign and use the organic tweet you wanted to promote as the creative asset for that campaign. You won’t see the engagement from that ad campaign directly on the original tweet, but you will see that tweet being promoted to your target audience!
Looking for ways to reach out to an audience of Twitter users that don’t follow you and probably won’t see your organically posted tweets? Have a little bit of extra budget to spend? Now is the time to start paid ad campaigns.
A Twitter Ad campaign differs from your native content in several ways. First, ads do not get posted to your profile, so you won’t be flooding your Twitter with ad content. But perhaps more importantly, Twitter campaigns allow you to get incredibly creative with the specific audience you’re targeting, which gives you the opportunity to promote your content to a massive audience of users that don’t follow you.
Check out these targeting features from the Twitter Ads Manager Campaign Creator:
My two favorite targeting features are Keywords and Follower look-alikes.
Keywords, according to Twitter, allow you to “Target audiences by including or excluding keywords and related terms they’ve searched, Tweeted, or from Tweets they’ve engaged with.” So, for example, if you want to target anyone that has used or engaged with the hashtag #amwriting, you can do that by including it as a keyword in your campaign.
Follower look-alikes allow you to “reach people with similar interests to an account’s followers.” So, for example, if you have a competitor with more Twitter followers than you and you want to target your ads to their audience…
Campaigns are not ideal for day-to-day digital marketing – they can be expensive, and you don’t want to exhaust your audience. Twitter ads can be a great tool when saved for special occasions though! The perfect time for a paid campaign is for your book launch, driving traffic to your bookstore once the book is available. The holidays are also a great time of year to consider a paid campaign, especially if you’re planning to offer any discounts throughout the season.
Twitter has been updating and streamlining its ad campaign creation process over the last year, and will probably continue to do so, but in general, it is a pretty intuitive step-by-step process. For help creating your own Twitter Ads campaign, consider some of these resources from Sprout Social, HootSuite, and Twitter’s Ads Campaigns 101 or Create Campaign Tips guides.
Have you ever noticed the “Who to Follow” section while browsing your Twitter feed? Some of those suggested users are algorithm-based – genuine suggestions from the app based on who else you follow and who else you’ve engaged with. But some of those suggestions are people that paid to appear in your “Who to Follow” list (hint: they’re the ones that say “Promoted” next to their profile).
You have the option to conduct a specific Consideration campaign exclusively designed to get you more followers. I’m not saying that you should. In fact, you may recall that I very specifically referred to follower counts as a vanity metric.
But I would be remiss in not at least pointing out that this is an option. As you are experimenting with your social media marketing strategy, you may or may not want to consider running a Followers campaign. If you do, and you find it valuable, tweet @luludotcom and tell me about it!
If you do choose to run a Follower campaign, it can be set up and executed the same as any other campaign on Twitter – in your Twitter Ads Manager.
Measuring Your Success
It’s essential to pay attention to the results of your paid marketing efforts. You’ve spent money to earn these results, after all, don’t you want to know what worked and what didn’t?
Twitter Ads Manager has all the campaign metrics readily available. You can see the results from any ad campaign, active or past, during any time period. You can also control which metrics you see, which gives you the opportunity to really drill down into exactly the details that matter to you.
There are a few metrics that are always valuable to track. Keep an eye on cost details that will help you determine if your campaign was worth the money you spent, like:
- CPE – Cost Per Engagement – the average amount you spent to earn any and all engagement on your ads. For example, if you spent $100 on a campaign and you got 50 total engagements (likes, comments, link clicks, etc.), your CPE was $2.00. You can also track the cost per specific type of engagement, depending on what the goal of your campaign was.
- CPM – Cost Per 1,000 Impressions – the average amount you spent to earn every 1,000 impressions. Like with native post metrics, impression metrics aren’t necessarily valuable, but they can help determine if your ads are being delivered to an appropriate audience. If you’re spending too much on your CPM, or if your CPM is low but your CPE is high, something about your campaign needs to be changed.
Obviously, you’ll also want to track the results that best match your campaign objectives. On Twitter, you can have three different types of Campaign Objectives – Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion.
Each of these categories has more nuanced objectives within them – a Consideration: Website Traffic campaign, for example, aims to put your ads in front of people most likely to click on the link in your ad and visit your website. But a Consideration: Engagements campaign aims to put your ads in front of people most likely to reply, retweet, or like your post. Valuable campaign goal metrics include:
- Link Clicks – how many people clicked on the link in your ad.
- Landing Page Views – how many people clicked on the link in your ad and stayed on the page long enough for it to load in full.
- CTR (Click Through Rate) – the percentage of link clicks per the total impressions for your ad.
For the data nerds like me that want to dive deeper into analyzing and understanding their social media metrics, check out resources like HubSpot or BEAST Analytics.
Selling Direct From Twitter
Another thing to consider as you’re planning your social media marketing strategy is selling your book directly from your social profiles. You can do that through tools built into most social platforms these days; but in fact, Twitter is one of the few platforms that isn’t equipped with built-in sales tools (yet).
Luckily, you still have options thanks to the link in bio feature on Twitter. A plugin like the Shopify Starter Plan can allow you to monetize your link in bio (or your pinned tweet!) by giving you the ability to sell your book directly from your Twitter profile. The Shopify Starter Plan is an excellent way to dip your toe into Selling Direct without fully committing to creating your own author website or store.
To learn more about how to create a Shopify store directly on your Twitter, check out this article from the Shopify blog.
Growing Your Author Network
Social media is great for promoting your brand and selling your book, but it’s valuable for so much more than that too. The social part of social media, of course, is about forging connections with like-minded fans all around the world!
Connect With Strangers
I talked about this already in the section on free Twitter promotion, but it bears repeating here: perhaps the most valuable reason for any author or creator to be active on Twitter is that it fosters the unique opportunity to connect with virtual strangers.
Other social media platforms like Facebook and Discord often keep audience communities behind gates – you need to be a member of a Facebook group before you can interact with the content and other members, and you need to be invited to a Discord server and approved by an admin. There are pros and cons to these gated communities, and I encourage you to look into them further if you haven’t already.
But Twitter fosters community and communication without any restriction to how its users can interact with each other. Individuals can choose to make their own profiles private, and it is possible to turn off replies or retweets on specific tweets, but in general, content that is posted on Twitter is public for both visibility and engagement. You’ll find a number of super-active writing communities, marketing communities, entrepreneurial communities, and more on Twitter.
As an author, an entrepreneur, or a content creator, this gives you the opportunity to find people that you may not ever interact with on other platforms. As I said before, it takes effort on your part – strangers aren’t going to magically stumble across your tweets if you’re just posting them into the void. But if you maintain an active presence on Twitter by replying to, retweeting, quote tweeting, tweeting at, using trending hashtags, and so on, you will quickly find your content – or at least, your profile – being delivered to audiences of Twitter users that don’t follow you. Yet.
Support Your Fans
Of course, there’s more to social media than just connecting with strangers! While it’s important to grow your audience, social media is also a great opportunity to stay connected with your existing fans. Keep them in the loop about your upcoming projects, give them opportunities to interact with you by sharing teasers or polls about your works in progress, answer questions, or just give them the chance to chat with you!
I’ve worked in the publishing industry in some capacity or another for a decade and I still get a little thrill every time an author I love likes or replies to one of my tweets about their books – go ahead, make someone’s day. That might just be the little personal touch that turns a casual follower into a lifelong fan.
Keep Up With The Competition
It’s important to know what your competition is up to! One of the other benefits of the very public forum of Twitter is that you can see exactly what your competition is up to – what they’re talking about, whose content they’re liking and sharing, and what their followers are talking about. It’s an excellent opportunity for some competitive analysis and market research.
Look at what your competitor’s fans – and, while you’re at it, at what your fans – are talking about. What are they asking for, what do they feel like they’re missing, and what do they want more or less of? Maybe you have exactly what they need in your book. Or maybe you don’t, yet, but you have the knowledge and know-how to create some new content that fills that void.
Competitors are also potential collaborators! If you’re looking for a new opportunity to grow your author network, consider connecting with fellow writers, experts, and content creators. Between replies, quote tweets, tweeting at other users, and direct messages, it’s very easy to connect with someone new on Twitter.
You Got This!
Social media marketing can seem like a big challenge, especially for a new brand vying for attention on a massive platform with a worldwide audience like Twitter. And honestly, it is a big challenge, but it’s a challenge that can be well worth the effort. Just remember a few basic tips:
- Don’t spread yourself too thin!
- Create a separate business page and curate your content
- Promote your brand (that’s you!) as well as your book to earn true fans
- Experiment with your content – try different content types and styles and see what works best for your brand!
- Don’t be afraid to join the conversation! Twitter is about active participation and connection – use both to help you grow your audience
And above all, remember you got this! There’s a whole new world of readers and fans out there, and you have all the skills you need to find them, connect with them, and convince them to buy your book. Or, at the very least, to like your tweet.
Lauren is the Social Media Manager at Lulu, which means she gets paid to spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every day. When she’s not browsing social media she can often be found voraciously reading romance novels, collecting books, or attempting to exorcize her cat.