I’m not an expert in marketing by a long shot, so this post is just going to be my personal
opinion. I hope I don’t offend anyone, and of course people are free to disagree with me. But I think if you’re going to use social media to promote yourself, your blog, your book, or your business, you need to keep in mind the purpose of social media — to socialize.
Let’s take Twitter. People join Twitter to interact with others. Nobody signs up for Twitter to see a bunch of ads. If your tweets all look like ads, you’re not doing it right, and I can’t believe it’s effective. I once saw Elana Johnson suggest on her blog that no more than 1 out of every 6 tweets should be self-promotion, but I have to add that the other 5 should not just be re-tweets or promotions for your friends’ books. If you’re not interacting with other tweeters, there’s no reason to be on Twitter.
I also saw Matt McNish comment somewhere that “scheduled” and “tweets” should not be used in the same sentence. I agree. Scheduled tweets don’t even make an attempt at interaction. Some may link to a blog or an article of interest and be scheduled ahead of time simply because the poster is cut off from Twitter by work firewalls. But most of them are just ads. This was incredibly obvious on the day of the Boston Marathon when the Twitter community reacted and grieved and shared information — in between “my book 0.99 on Kindle” tweets.
Those authors looked like jerks, even though they were probably unaware of the situation. And while anyone might tweet from their phone first and only afterward check their Twitter feed to see what’s going on, a continuous parade of promotional tweets made it obvious that the person was either incredibly insensitive or not really there at all. An automaton was tweeting for them, and in that case, why would I follow a tweet-bot?
At the very least, scheduled tweets should be limited and spaced far apart. A long string of them, promoting your book (and all your friends’ books) is really just spam. I stopped following a few people last week because of this.
I saw someone respond to a criticism of scheduled tweeting by saying, “If you’re self-published, you have to do this.” Well, I did self-publish, so I can say that, in my experience, this kind of promotion never worked. I did a lot of trial and error, and I made mistakes. But I never sold any books through posts that were borderline spam. I sold books by interacting with people. If they were interested in me, they checked out my book.
Yeah, it’s more work that way. But nobody said it was going to be easy.
I’m not on Twitter yet, but I so agree with you. I’ve heard a lot of complaints that so much of Twitter is self promotion and not discussion. That’s too bad because it makes the rest of us not want to be on there. We also have to watch that our own blog posts don’t fall into this trap too.
Yes! Everything you say.
I’ve never learned how to schedule tweets. There have been times when I’ve thought it might be a good idea–like when I’m snowed under, too busy to do more than look at Twitter longingly from afar–but ultimately I figured it was better for me to just wait to tweet real-time.
I agree that there’s no point in being on Twitter if you’re not going to interact with other Tweeters.
I didn’t even know you could schedule tweets. I have been neglecting fb lately and I found twitter so great last week–a few writers who knew I live near Boston checked in with me that way. It made me feel so loved–and it took only a second or two.
I only schedule tweets when I’m sharing great links. And that’s the only promotional thing I do, if you don’t count my Goodreads ratings that show up on Twitter. I didn’t know it was doing that until someone commented that they also loved the book.
I unfollowed someone because all her tweets were promotional. But she thought she had outsmarted everyone by making her tweets look non promotional. “Thanks to the sales of my book, I can now buy a new house” [insert link to Amazon here]. When you looked at her profile stream, most of her tweets were like this. All were, no doubt, scheduled.
Too much self promotion turns me off and makes me less likely to want to buy a person’s book. I don’t tweet yet but I have a feeling I will be soon.
I agree with you Dianne. I’ve stopped following a lot of blogs and twitter accounts because of this. The authors I follow and respect most share who they are and what they think on social media, then when it comes time to share publishing news, they still share it but in a more organic and compelling way. I remember reading somewhere about aspiring authors: use your query letter to talk about your book, use social media to talk about you. I think it extends to published authors as well.
I have to admit I hate scrolling through my Twitter feed because almost every tweet seems to be a promo. I’ve actually decreased how many fellow authors I follow because when I do interact with many of them on Twitter it seems to have an adversarial undertone to it. Too many authors look at your as competition and are only interested in pushing their book. Sometimes it’s just nice to interact with other authors, writers, etc since I don’t sit in an office all day every day. Someone should start a writer social media site where promoting your work is strictly banned.
Great article! I will say that I used scheduled Tweets to promote WRiTE CLUB, simply because I have a limited window to access Twitter and I needed to reach people who didn’t follow my same schedule. And it worked, because I always saw a spike in sign-ups following a scheduled Tweet.
That being said…I wouldn’t do that to promote a book.
I totally agree with this post. I love the interaction on Twitter. And I do want to know if a Twitter friend has a new book out. But not every five minutes. I would even say that the personal vs promotional Tweet ratio should be 15 to 1. I have unfollowed authors on Twitter who just promote their books. It’s boring and clogs my feed.
Wow, Dianne, I do use scheduled tweets, but I try to share helpful information with them. I really appreciate the insight of you and the others who commented. I totally agree that social media should be about meaningful interactions, and somehow, Twitter fell of my radar. Thanks for the nudge!