Monday, April 27, 2009

Guest Blogger: Kathleen Y'Barbo

Do you Twitter?
Top Five Tips for Twitterific Tweets

According to Wikipedia, “Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (known as Tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.” Beyond this, Twitter has become the latest way for people to connect, network, and generally practice the fine art of being entertaining and informative in less words than the opening sentence of A Tale of Two Cities. It is, basically, a text message of a limited length that goes out to a whole bunch of people who have indicated their interest in reading things you write. Key words: reading things you write. Because your Tweets go out to people you may never meet, so does your name and your reputation as a writer. Thus, what begins as a fun endeavor can become an important part of your marketing plan. Also, because your Tweets are brief, the time it takes to create and send them is brief as well, making Twitter not only cost efficient but also one of the least complicated and time-consuming things an author can do to market a book or themselves.

So, how to get started? First, go to and see what the fun's all about. Signing up is free and easy. Before I offer some Tweeting tips, I'd like to point you to a site that explains this phenomenon in much greater detail than I can possibly do here: Twitter In Plain English video.

1. Create a user name that mirrors your own so readers can find you. Twitter is one place where unimaginative thinking is best. Since you want people to find you easily, skip the user name that describes your hobby, the color of your eyes, etc. and go for one that merely states your name. Mine is KathleenYBarbo. Wendy Lawton's is WendyLawton. See a pattern? Once created, be sure and add this to your email signature line.

2. Choose an icon photo that shows your personality. Your book jacket photo may look like a high school yearbook picture, but your Twitter icon doesn't have to. Pick a photo that shows who you are. Unless you're horrified to show a more casual you, go with something that gives the reader a glimpse of your personality. Often this is a photo taken outdoors or in surroundings that give a hint about the author. Keep in mind you have a miniscule box in which to insert this, so make sure the graphics are sharp and the colors inviting. Janet Grant ( is wearing a wonderful rust-colored jacket that draws the eye to her photo. Dena Dyer's ( red top is just enough to attract attention without overpowering the tiny square.

3. Post to Twitter OFTEN. If you want followers, you have to provide them with something to read. Once a day is the VERY least I would suggest, but 3 to 4 times is not too many as long as you are providing interesting insights and not what was on your sandwich at lunch (see tip #4). I've been asked if it is possible to over-Tweet. Probably, though I hesitate to say there is some magic number. If you can keep the post entertaining or relevant to who you are and what you write, the sky's probably the limit. Rule of thumb: If you're losing followers, you're probably Twitting too much.

4. Use your Tweets (those 140 character blasts of information) wisely. Create a "brand" and stick with it. An author bent on achieving a reputation as a professional will, as much as possible, leave the personal Tweets out in favor of those that are industry-related. It's fine to occasionally mention something personal, but in general a post about some interesting fact you found while researching your novel or a verse that spoke to you while working on your devotional will have much more impact. An exception to this would be an author whose brand is to use his or her personal life as fodder for books. An example of this would be Dawn Meehan (www.mom2my6pack), who blogs, writes, and Tweets about life as the mother of 6.

5. Feed your Twitter posts onto your other Internet-based sites. If you blog, have a website, or are on social networking sites like Facebook, set your Twitter posts to feed directly to the sites. This can be done without much difficulty, and it provides readers with fresh information on your site. By virtue of the social nature of Facebook, Twitters often garner more comments on your Facebook site than they do on Twitter itself.

So now that you've learned how and why to Twitter, only one question remains: Why aren't you using Twitter to increase your presence among readers and industry professionals? You are? Then tell me your username so I can follow you.


CHickey said...

I'm cynthiahickey.

Mary Connealy said...

I"m on twitter but it just seems like, at least so far, it's one thing too many. Maybe I'll get better at posting but for now I forget it even exists.

How do you get it to feed to other social media sites? I feed my blog to Facebook and Amazon but I haven't figured out how to do this for Twitter. And how about Shoutlife? Is there a way to get my blog to feed there?

Sorry, Kathleen. You have stepped into quicksand with all my questions. NO ESCAPE

Kathleen Y'Barbo said...

Ha! Adding a link to Facebook is easy. You just need to go into your Facebook account and then go down to the bottom of the page and click on Applications. If you don't see Facebook listed, click on "find more" and do a search for Facebook. Follow the instructions to make your Twitter posts appear on your Facebook homepage. To date, Shoutlife does not have an application for this purpose.

Mary Connealy said...

I just tried it.
I may have accidentally tapped into NASA And launched a satallite into space. It's too early to tell.

DayleShockley said...

Kathleen, I don't twitter, but I tend to agree with Mary that it does seem to be just "one thing too many." That's not to say I won't give it a try when I have a new product out.

I plan to visit the link you included. My question is How do you acquire "followers"?

Mary's comment about NASA had me rolling.

Becky said...

I understand Twitter from a Marketing standpoint, but it is just one more thing to worry about. I've heard it called "neurotic networking" and have to agree. So, this editor doesn't have an active account. :)