Let's return to our virtual cocktail party that is Twitter in which you are looking to connect with readers. Now we've already talked about branching out and finding readers rather than just hanging with other writers. We've also spent a post identifying potential party fouls. So, this time I'd like to talk about how to engage effectively with readers on Twitter.
As I've mentioned before, you want to treat Twitter like a cocktail party. So, only talking about yourself all the time, is not a great way to build relationships. And make no mistake, relationships are what you want. Sure you can tweet out a link to your book, and you might even get someone to click on it. But you'll get far more traction by forming a relationship with a reader who will buy your next book when it comes out and recommend you to other readers. Relationships make FANS and fans act as street teams to spread the word when you release a new book, or have an event.
Engage with your followers
When you're trying to make friends with someone at a party, you don't just walk up to them and start talking about yourself non-stop. You tell them a bit about yourself, and they tell you a bit about themselves. You look for common ground. Twitter should work the same way. See what your followers are talking about an talk with them. Find that common ground. Maybe you like the same authors, or have the same hobbies. Maybe you have vacationed in the same spots. Look for common ground and start conversations. They don't have to be long in-depth conversations. You are limited to 140 characters. They just have to be friendly.
Use lists to prioritize readers
Now, if you're following a lot of people on Twitter, you might need to find a way to narrow down who you are following so you can know who to engage. Fortunately, Twitter lets you make lists based on whatever category you like. It's like a personal way of categorizing and tracking all of the people that you meet at the party. I keep lists based on a number of things.
I have a list of the "Best readers in the world" (Mine, of course). Whenever someone tweets to me that they enjoyed something that I write, I add them to the list. This way I can view the list and see what my readers are talking about and what's going on with them. I can also engage with them whenever I see a common interest or when they have news. I can congratulate them on an achievement, coo at pics of their babies, or tell them that I also loved the other author that they just tweeted about.
I also keep lists for things that I am interested in and/or my readers are interested in. I'm learning Gaelic, and many of my readers are Scotia-philes, so I have a list of accounts that tweet in Gaelic or about Scottish issues. If I see something that will interest my readers, I retweet it. I have a list of author friends, who I try to engage with. If they're having events that I think will interest my readers, I will spread the word. This helps cut through the noise and build engagement. I highly recommend using a tool like Tweetdeck that lets you see multiple lists at once in columns across your screen.
Talk about what interests you and your readers
As I said before you are looking to find common ground. So, talk about what interests your readers especially if it relates to your books. I've already mentioned Gaelic. I also like to tweet about Scotland and Scottish history, and folklore. Most likely, these folks chose your book from the millions available to read, because something about it interested them. Which means that common ground shouldn't be too hard to find.
Your readers are probably also interested in your process and the things that inspire you. Tweet that! I like to share songs that I listen to while writing, articles and books that I use to research (if you can do this without spoiling things), and pictures of the settings for my books (again, if you can without spoilers).
Share your life
Readers like to feel connected to you. They like to see things about your life. I'm not saying that you should tweet a picture of every meal you eat or your family's dirty laundry. Share what you're willing to share. For example, I have three cats with big personalities. So, I like to share pictures of my cats when they do something especially adorable. I didn't think much of it, until I met a reader and she asked me how my cat, who had recently had a health scare was. That's relationship building. If you visit someplace interesting, tweet it. If you watched something great, tweet about it.
Tweeting really isn't hard. You can engage readers, and build relationships the same way that you make friends at a party. Be friendly and engaging. Don't take things too seriously and don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. Be as interested in them as you want them to be in you. So when you DO tweet out a link to your book because you've got a new review, or won an award, or release another, they will help you spread the word.