Now that you’ve taken the steps to grow a meaningful following on Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly discovered that Twitter has given you the means to establish friendships with people all around the globe. It’s true that the Information Age and modern technology have made the world a small place. There’s only one problem:
You have to sleep some of the time.
As you develop a platform that reaches all four corners of the planet, how do you contribute to your following in Australia, for example, if you live in the central United States?
Read on and I’ll offer you some techniques that will help you keep in touch when your followers need you to be in touch.
This series was originally written over a 10-day period in 2013. I’ve included relevant updates throughout the series as Twitter changed policies and procedures. Please be aware that I may not have caught all of the changes. If you find such a change that isn’t captured in this series, please leave a comment with the new Twitter policy, and I’ll update the series accordingly. Cheers!
The Global Village
So I created a list of all the basic lessons I wanted to share with the world, neatly packaged in 140 characters or less, and I began to tweet them throughout the day while writing. I saw that other writers did similar things, and they appended the hashtag “writetip” so I did the same. Before long I started getting responses to these tweets, and people started retweeting them!
When I started doing this back in December of 2012 I had somewhere around 40 followers. One morning I woke up and found a list of Twitter notifications waiting for me on my phone. I opened up Twitter and was shocked. I had 85 followers. The night before the only people who followed me were personal friends. Now I had more people following me that I didn’t know than people I did! Using the techniques I mentioned in my series on Building a Meaningful Following, my follower base snowballed from there. But there was an unintended consequence.
My followers were no longer confined to Texas. They were no longer confined to the United States. For that matter, they were no longer confined to the Western Hemisphere! How could I hope to remain relevant to people who are asleep when I’m awake and people who are awake when I’m asleep?
What is it?
Auto-Tweeting is the process of scheduling tweets to be posted on your behalf, often when you’re not even at the keyboard. Since there is no Twitter interface to accomplish this, it requires the use of a third party tool or service (I’ll name a few below).
How Should it be Used?
I want to begin by emphasizing that this is my opinion. Auto-tweeting is a controversial subject, as I mentioned earlier. For as many people as you find that say it’s harmless, you’ll find just as many people that say it’s going to destroy the soul of Twitter.
I fall somewhere in between. I can understand the argument of the people who think it’s horrible, and I share some of their sentiment. In fact, I’ll be dedicating an entire post to it. The upshot of the argument is that Twitter is about now, as you’ve heard me say in other posts. Tweeting is a form of conversation. What good is it to tweet if you can’t be there to respond?
A valid point. But not all tweets fall into the same category. For example, those “writetip” tweets I spoke about. When I post a writetip, it’s intended to be a quick reminder to my writer followers who are probably sitting at their keyboard writing a draft, or revising a chapter, or working on a piece of flash fiction, etc. But many of my followers live half way across the world, in very different time zones. Twitter is about “now”, so I can’t expect them to start their writing day by scrolling through their entire timeline just on the off chance I’ve had something helpful to say.
Auto tweets help me to reach all of my followers during the times they’re active. By scheduling interesting tweets to go off a handful of times per hour, it doesn’t clutter people’s timelines with spam, and it makes sure that my followers “down under” are able to get some value out of what I have to say. Yes, sometimes a follower will have a question or comment, and I respond to each one as soon as I return to my keyboard. If it’s been a problem for anyone, they haven’t expressed it to me yet, and I’m still gaining more followers than losing. So, all I can say with certainty is that this is working for me. I think it can work for you too.
In part 5 of this series I’ll give you some (hopefully) helpful advice on how to compose effective tweets. And don’t forget to follow the blog using the “Follow by Email” tool on the upper right (under my picture). You’ll be notified as soon as a new post hits the blog. And don’t worry, your email address is never revealed…not even to me.
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About Nat Russo
Nat Russo is the Amazon #1 Bestselling Fantasy author of Necromancer Awakening and Necromancer Falling. Nat was born in New York, raised in Arizona, and has lived just about everywhere in-between. He’s gone from pizza maker, to radio DJ, to Catholic seminarian (in a Benedictine monastery, of all places), to police officer, to software engineer. His career has taken him from central Texas to central Germany, where he worked as a defense contractor for Northrop Grumman. He's spent most of his adult life developing software, playing video games, running a Cub Scout den, gaining/losing weight, and listening to every kind of music under the sun. Along the way he managed to earn a degree in Philosophy and a black belt in Tang Soo Do. He currently makes his home in central Texas with his wife, teenager, mischievous beagle, and goofy boxador.
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For those of you who are waiting for Part 5, I will either post it tomorrow night or the following morning.
Unfortunately, life reared its head today and demanded its rightful place on the priority list.
Thank you so much for this series. I stumbled on your tweet about part 1 on Twitter today by accident (still using my “Home feed” on twitter and regretting every peek 😉 and kept reading bec. you have a very engaging and clear style. I used to work as a nonfiction editor in a publishing house, so I’m always glad to find blogposts that are well written. Job hazard 😉
What I didn’t fully understand in this entry was: If you’re forbidden to retweet the exact same tweet, how does only changing the DATES in your spreadsheet enable you to repost the same tweets via HootSuite? Don’t you need to change the wording as well?
I’m on the fence about automated repeat tweets. I see so many authors in my timeline tweet about their own book every few minutes and it looks very self-absorbed and spammy. On the other hand I found some very nice books through twitter tips and people keep telling me that tweeting about my own Urban Fantasy novel once every 4 weeks (which feels spammy to me, seriously) is absolutely not enough, I should tweet the link at least several times a day …
Glad you found me, Brida! And thank you very much for your kind words.
I understand where the confusion is coming in. The restriction is on HootSuite’s end. Whenever you queue a tweet through HootSuite, HootSuite checks in the background to make sure you haven’t already *queued* that tweet. In other words, it makes sure that same tweet isn’t already in the queue. But once the tweet goes out, HootSuite forgets about it. So you can re-queue the same tweet the following week, and as long as that tweet isn’t still in the queue waiting to go out, HootSuite lets you schedule it.
I know what you mean regarding authors using automation to tweet about their books. I recommend putting serious limitations on your automation policy when it comes to this subject. I use automation primarily for sharing content. I’ve found this is well-received, and I nearly always pick up new readers. (You’re a great example! The tweet that led you to this series is nearly 2 years old. 🙂 ) Book Promotion, on the other hand, I limit strictly to a couple of tweets per day. At 3-5 total tweets per hour, the 2-3 promo tweets become a negligible percentage of my overall output.
This is crazy helpful, Nat. Thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom and experience.
Glad you found it helpful!