In Part 4 of this 10-part series I covered the benefits of auto-tweeting, and I offered some links to automation tools that have helped me maintain a steady schedule of informational tweets.
In today’s post I’d like to cover the dark side of auto-tweeting. This should be relatively short, as I think you’ll find most of it appeals to common sense.
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!
We’ve seen how auto-tweeting can make sure you reach a follower base that covers the entire globe. Carefully-scheduled tweets that are informational in nature can keep your followers up to date no matter what side of the planet they live on.
But these informational tweets shouldn’t be scheduled to go off every 60 seconds. Yes, Twitter is about now, but people who are following you for a reason (and most likely have you on a list) are going to check out your feed regularly. Unless you’re broadcasting a stream of spam, your latest set of Tweets will be easily reachable.
The current convention is no more than four or five auto-tweets per hour. This sounds about right to me. Once every fifteen minutes shouldn’t really upset anyone.
It also has to do with content. Four times per hour of auto-tweeting nonsense is, well, too much nonsense. You’re trying to build a writer’s platform, right? So why are you spamming people? Do you respond well to people who spam your email inbox? Probably not. Be a contributor to your community and your following won’t be able to get enough of you. If you’re auto-tweeting four or more times per hour, you’d better be providing content that your following is interested in: blogs, tips, news, etc.
The Sociopathic Sales Pitch
Imagine this scenario: You’re at a party with friends, enjoying some food, wine and good conversation. Every couple of minutes a stranger…the same stranger…walks up to you and yells in your ear “buy my crap!” Then they hand you a card with the location of a store that sells whatever they’re wanting you to buy.
But instead of one person screaming in your ear, it’s every third person at the party. How long would you stay at this party?
Trying to sell your book by tweeting a link to Amazon several times an hour is like trying to sell your book by screaming the title from an open window in a moving car. There are far more effective ways to market your goods (and we’ll discuss these in a followup post).
[UPDATE 05/09/2014] Since publishing Necromancer Awakening and watching it climb up the bestseller lists, I learned some valuable lessons about advertising and how it can work against you. I’ve written about those lessons in this article.
Does this mean you can’t Tweet your Amazon Affiliate link in an attempt to make a little extra cash on the side? Of course not! I auto-tweet several affiliate links every day. But the way you make money on the side is to know your following and know their needs. The money you make on affiliate links, let’s face it, is going to be negligible in the scheme of things. The value you get out of contributing to the community and providing a valuable service, on the other hand, is invaluable.
Now, if you’re going through a book launch, then by all means let people know! I’m talking about volume, in this instance, more than content. I expect my writer friends to tweet about their latest books for sale.
That being said, you’ll find it is far better to use Twitter to drive people to your blog than to attempt to sell your book. People get snippets of you on Twitter. They get much larger doses on your blog! People will be far more likely to take an interest in your work if you can get them to genuinely take an interest in you.
The Broken Record
“To be or not to be…” – Shakespeare.
Shakespeare wrote that. I’m a writer
! Look, any of us can google a list of quotes, load them into an auto-tweet utility like HootSuite
and parrot the masters every few minutes. And on occasion this isn’t a bad thing! But ask yourself what value it’s bringing to your community. All it’s doing is grabbing the spotlight for a moment in time and shining it on yourself…then doing nothing with the opportunity. Does your community need another quote from Hemingway, or could they use some advice or a link to a reference you find valuable in your own writing? People hit the “follow” button on your profile because they felt you brought them some value. Don’t stop now!
Do you see a pattern in some of this advice? Most of the “do this” or “don’t do that” has a lot to do with the value of what you’re contributing to your community. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: be a contributor, first and foremost, and the numbers will sort themselves out. The specifics aren’t important. Tweet your cat pictures all you want, if your community finds value in your cat pictures. If the value you bring to your community is dirty jokes, then keep telling those jokes!
Know your following. Give them what they need. The return you get in camaraderie, friendship, mutual support, and yes…eventual book sales will outweigh the meager effort it takes to be a contributing member of your community.
What are some of the strangest auto-tweets you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments section below.
Join me for Part 9, where discuss why it’s a bad idea to be anti-social on a <ahem> social network.
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Nat Russo is the Amazon #1 Bestselling Fantasy author of Necromancer Awakening.
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/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.