Ask Alicia: Writers And Twitter: What The Hell Should I Tweet?

by Alicia Sparks on March 1, 2012

What's tweetin'?

QUESTION:

Dear Alicia,

After about six months of freelancing (part-time – haven’t made the full-time plunge yet), I finally signed up for a Twitter account.

I read your post on Twitter taboos writers must avoid, but my questions is:

What should I tweet about?

So far, I just pass along interesting links, retweet others, and throw out the occasional bit of information about myself or my day.

I’m not really sure if any of it affects my follower count in any meaningful way just yet (I seem to gain and lose like anyone else), so I don’t know if I’m on the right path or not.

Thanks,

Sharon

ANSWER:

Hey Sharon,

Well, so far, it sounds like you’re doing just fine. Of course, ultimately it depends on your Twitter goals. Do you want to use Twitter like a watercooler? Would you rather network? Keep touch with current and past clients, and reach out to potential ones?

Because I don’t know your exact goals, I can’t give you an exact answer – well, not one that’s tailored to those goals, anyway. However, I can help you with some ideas for writer tweets:

1. Share interesting links. Sounds like you have this one down pat. Just make sure the links are relevant to your interests. Don’t sling out a bunch of links just because a bunch of people might find the stories interesting. If you don’t find them interesting, you’ve got a bunch of followers with whom you probably have nothing in common.

NOTE: If you’re not really sure where to find interesting articles to tweet (or retweet), try starting with some of the movers and shakers in your field that you admire most. For example, I tweet a lot of @copyblogger, @problogger, @AnneWayman, @queryfreewriter, @WritersDigest, and @EntMagazine. Check out their blogs and share interesting posts or tweets with your followers.

2. Retweet. Not only is it just plain nice, but also it shows the people you follow that you’re paying attention and the people who follow you that you’re not a self-absorbed snot. Plus, it makes your Twitter feed look much more interesting than just row after row of your own user picture.

3. Talk about yourself. Really, do. I can’t stand Twitter accounts with nothing but links, retweets, and self-promotional crap. Every now and then, it’s okay to tell me that it’s raining, or you’re working outside, or that extra piece of cake might’ve seriously set back your diet. Hell, tweet the YouTube link to a new-to-you song or a picture of your dog looking up scornfully from his bubble bath. I won’t hold it against you, and any writers who delete you because of it clearly only want writing-related material in their feeds and you’re too interesting for that.

4. Show some #WW and #FF love. #WW (or #writerwednesday) is a great way to meet new writers and share writer-specific stories. Sure, you can do this any day of the week, but saving it for #WW is fun. ## (or #followfriday) is the original version, and open to everyone. Writers often use #FF for the same purposes as #WW.

5. Participate. Hashtags are great ways for writers to interact with one another – or even just other folks who share the same interests. Try #amwriting, Johanna Harness’s creation to keep an ongoing conversation among writers who’re currently – that’s right – writing. Or, take a look at the current trending topics. Click one that sounds interesting, find out what it’s about, and retweet something relevant or come up with your own related tweet.

Hope these ideas help, Sharon! Maybe some readers will chime in with additional suggestions.

P.S. You also might want to check out Ask Alicia: Writers And Social Media, where I help Andy determine whether he should have separate social media accounts for personal and professional use, or just one of each – period.

UPDATE: After originally posting this “Ask Alicia” column, I ran into Jennifer Mattern’s How To Use (And Not Use) Twitter To Find Freelance Writing Jobs, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Image Credit: Twitter

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

James Dabbagian March 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Don’t forget Twitter chats! There’s tons of them out there, and you can learn a lot from the people in them. Alternatively, you can also give advice yourself if you’re an expert.

And going off #1, you can also use an app like Buffer to automatically set times where you can share content as well, so you don’t have to constantly be online to submit: http://bufferapp.com

Alicia Sparks March 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for adding that, James! I probably should’ve included the kinds of chats you’re talking about with #5 – the #amwriting hashtag is a sort of ongoing chat, but I know what kinds of chats you’re referring to (more scheduled, organized, etc.). So, on that note, because I know you know a lot about Twitter chats & so I trust you, haha, do you know where people can find lists or some sort of collection of information related to current, active chats & their dates/times?

Also, I’ve never used Buffer. Currently I use HootSuite. Do you have any experience with Hoot, & if so, which would you recommend over the other?

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