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Tips for Tweetability

by Cynthia Ruchti

The writer in me once rebelled against the idea of abiding by the constrictions of Tweet-length posts when communicating with the public. It felt like moving from a four-bedroom house to a pop-up camper, with about as much writerly elbow room.

I have no qualms admitting I’m no Twitter expert. But I now understand the impact a well-constructed tweet or a carefully developed Twitter community can have for an author or aspiring author. Social network, yes. But I’m awed by the speed with which we can now disseminate information to a wide audience. And I’m energized by two challenges: using Twitter without becoming obnoxious in the amount or content of tweets, and reducing communication to the fewest possible-but strongest possible-words.

The editor in me cringes at writers who harm their relationship with their audience with tweets that are less than their best.

• Typos or misspelled words

Grate author even at Living Life bookstore at Centerpoint Maul Sat Aug 4

Ouch!

#Author definately knows her subject. Read blog hear:

If the author definitely doesn’t know how to spell either definitely or here, she’s lost my attention before I even click on the link. Tweets can be created quickly, but they demand quality to be effective. A gourmet one-bite of excellence.

A typo that requires a follow-up tweet to correct inaccurate information is like a second-day retraction in the newspaper. Everyone remembers the inaccuracy. Few read the retraction. And if they do, their first thought isn’t, “Oh, good to know,” but “Mistake, huh?”

SOLUTION: Proofread and spell-check before hitting send.

• Long tweets that don’t communicate enough in the first few words to lure the reader to read more.

Do you have a problem with http://www.myblogaboutproblems.com
Compare that to:

Writer’s block woes? http://www.myblogaboutproblems.com

Which will get the most click-throughs?

SOLUTION: Trim away the excess. Get to the point quickly. Tweet with the reader in mind. What will grab him or her and compel a closer look?

The marketer in me watches for quicksand in any social networking venture. Volume doesn’t necessarily equal significance in marketing. Did the flurry of campaign ads increase your appreciation of the candidates in the days before the election? Did the endless stream of phone calls trying to sway your vote make you feel warm and informed?

• Too frequent tweets

I don’t believe I’m alone in skimming over tweets that arrive by the dozens from the same person. Somewhere in the brain it registers that every minute spent tweeting is a minute not spent writing novels or engaged in other productivity. Some tweets are purposeful. Some seem like procrastinating what we really should be doing. Some seem as if the writer is killing time. Thou shalt not murder applies to time, too.

• Meaningless tweets

A recipe for pumpkin cream puffs might be meaningful if it either 1.) relates to your novel or 2.) relates to your particular readership. If your readers are hospitality mavens who are always looking for unique desserts to serve their guests or their book club, the recipe might have meaning.

A joke of the day might relate if the books you write or your author personality fit those jokes, and vice versa.

But tweets that don’t help you build your brand, build your name recognition, increase your audience, encourage your audience, or that don’t match your personal life goals and God’s goals for you might be better left untweeted.

SOLUTION: Look both ways before you cross the tweet.

• Self-serving tweets

Buy my book. Mama needs a new pair of shoes.

vs.

Need a book to say thank you to your pastor’s wife? (link)

The first focuses on the author and making money. The second focuses on reader need.

It’s easier than it might first appear to convert an announcement about a book’s release or a book on sale to a tweet that reaches out to the heart of the reader and his/her needs.

Whoo hoo! My book hits top ten list for infertile women!

vs.

Where is God when the cradle is empty? Top ten book takes a look. (link)

SOLUTION: Market with an eye for need-meeting. Jesus always did.

There’s an art to masterful use of Twitter. Carefully and prayerfully choosing our words, our timing, and our intentions will help us grow in the art and create more art appreciators who in turn will connect with us as authors and buy our books.

In what ways have you grown as a Twitter artist? What kind of posts do you most appreciate? What kind have you grown tired of and skip over? What one point from this blog made you nod your head in agreement?


Cynthia Ruchti speaks for women’s events and writer workshops. She is the author of five novels, novellas, or devotionals with a full-length novel and a major non-fiction project releasing in 2013. Her current release is Cedar Creek Seasons novella collection (Barbour). She tweets sporadically but writing this blog has spurred her to be more intentional. Cynthia serves as ACFW’s professional relations liaison. You can connect with her at www.cynthiaruchti.com, http://www.Facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage, or http://www.Twitter.com/cynthiaruchti.

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15 Responses to Tips for Tweetability

  1. Very helpful post. I have a hard time navigating Twitter. What are all those people really tweeting about? I ignore the vast majority of it, looking instead for many of the things you mention here. It just makes sense to me; everything else is a waste of time.

    Same thing goes for people making comments on blogs. Oh, dear, I hope I haven’t made any typos here!

  2. Marcia Ford says:

    Great job, Cynthia! I wish every writer would read this.

  3. Just getting my feet wet with Twitter and loved this post. So far I haven’t come up with anything worth tweeting about but I nodded my head at the “too frequent” comments.
    Most helpful? The examples of self-serving tweets vs. reader-oriented.
    Thanks!

  4. Good thoughts on tweeting! I am still trying to figure out the best way to use twitter and found your ideas helpful. So maybe I’m inspired to try again!~ Thanks!

  5. Great post. I’ve found twitter such an easy way to link up with segments of my target audience for my books. For example–homeschoolers, people interested in Vikings, people interested in Christian fiction, etc. Not everyone who follows on twitter will eventually buy your book, but it’s a great way to get exposure in a wide-reaching yet non-invasive way.

  6. Thanks for this insightful post, Cynthia! I really needed these Twitter tips. It was so tweet of you to share. (That’s pathetic, isn’t it?)

  7. Twitter drives me crazy, so this was timely and informative. Thanks.

  8. Loved reading this and feeling rather twitterpated with the possibilities!

    Short, directed, and clever is what I look for in a tweet. Thanks for helping us figure out how to get there!

  9. Ane Mulligan says:

    These are super tips, Cyn! It’s almost like creating a title that hooks!

  10. Deanne Durrett says:

    I recently jumped into Twitter and I’m learning something new every day. One thing I took note of right away – I hate those “Buy my book” “Buy my book” Tweets. I scroll past them but stop when an interesting phrase snags my attention. I want to learn to do that!

  11. Really good tips, Cynthia. Thanks for the valuable information.

  12. Thanks, Cynthia. My fav is “Look both ways before you cross the tweet.”

  13. Naomi Musch says:

    Good advice. A great line from a book tends to catch my attention too, so I tweet lines I think might have impact in just a few words. (Beware, take a step back and consider, does the line I’m choosing really sound great, or is that only because I know these characters and plot intimately?) The link can go to the book or to a longer excerpt.

  14. Thanks so much for the tips!

    I have really struggled to get “into” social media even though I’ve been on it for years now. I’m a private person and not terribly witty. Except for in my novels! So, coming up with clever things to say is hard for me.

    I do think that part of builing a platform and a good following of folks that crave what you write is to “engage” the readers with more than just a sales pitch.

    I’ve been running my website for 12 years now and I’ve come to realize that people want to know personal things about me – they want to get to know me personally.

    It’s hard to engage in a conversation with someone if I am (or they are) always self focused. And really, social sites like twitter and facebook are a type of conversation – one sided or not.

    So, over the last few months since I was picked up by an agent, I have “stepped it up a notch” and really work everyday to come up with ways to share myself with my readers. It’s still hard, but it is getting easier. (I think.)

  15. Good advice. Thanks for the post. It was helpful. One of those things I wonder about.