Marketing Your Book 101

Save shortcuts for traffic congestion. That’s what marketing guru, Erik Deckers says. Build your Twitter following with care. In this month’s column, Deckers talks about the pitfalls of padding your Twitter account and how to do it right.

Don’t Artificially Boost Your Twitter Account

By Erik Deckers

I’m not impressed by your gigantic Twitter account.

Your tens of thousands of followers. Your legions of fans. The rampaging throngs of people who follow you and you follow back. The Kardashian-ness of your Twempire (Twitter + empire) only makes me look down my nose at you.

(Said the guy with 18,500 followers. More on my hypocrisy in a minute.)

It’s become an epidemic among new Twitter users, this belief that you need 50,000+ followers just to be somebody. That Twitter success means having inflated numbers, and no real content to back it up. I especially see authors falling for this, believing that more followers equals more sales.

Twitter
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It doesn’t.

I can spot these Twitter fakers from a mile away. They’re the ones with 30, 50, even 100,000 followers, and yet they’ve only written a few hundred tweets. I’ve written over 50,000, and yet have only 18,500 followers. Nobody is that awesome at Twitter that they’ve got 100,000 people hanging on their every word after just a few hundred tweets.

There’s no rule of thumb here. Nothing that says “you must have 2,000 tweets before you have 2,000 followers.” But unless you’re an A-list celebrity who just announced on Conan that you joined Twitter, you’re not going to magically get 100,000 followers without publishing much of anything. It’s only achieved through cheating.

Here’s How They Do It

There are two ways you can build up a massive Twitter following, and they’re both morally repugnant. I’m only telling you so you can avoid them, not do them.

1) You pay someone $25 or so for 5,000 followers. Sure, you have 5,000 shiny new followers, but they’re not real. They’re fake accounts, usually created by spammers in The Philippines. It’s like filling the audience with mannequins at your next reading and bragging about a full house.

2) You yo-yo follow people. If you follow me, I get a notification, and follow you back. A few days later, you unfollow me, but I don’t get notified, so I keep following you. Imagine doing that to 2,000 people. You follow them, unfollow them a few days later, and repeat, thus growing your army.

I call that yo-yo following. You raise and drop your follower/following count like a yo-yo. Do that for a few weeks with some black market software, and soon you’re in the 100K club.

Here’s The Best Way

There’s a third way to get a big following: Create good work.

Write interesting stuff on Twitter that people want to see. Not inane motivational sayings every single morning. Not an uninterrupted stream of news articles. Just have conversations, and be interesting (I discussed this more in-depth in last month’s column).

I’ve Twitter chatted with one of my favorite authors, Christopher Fowler (@Peculiar), author of the Bryant & May mystery series, about the weather in Indianapolis versus Barcelona, and the genius of interior windows for cooling a house. Even if he weren’t already a favorite, I would check out his work just because he took the time to chat. That’s the power of a simple person-to-person connection.

It will take a long time, but this is how you build a network of people who like you, trust you, believe in you, and want to support you. If you can fill your network with just 500 of these followers, you’re doing much better than the person who yo-yo’ed their way to 50,000.

You have 500 readers, 500 friends, 500 people who want to see you do well. Not 50,000 faceless people who couldn’t care less about you.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2007, and have amassed a respectable following by slowly adding people. It also didn’t hurt that I’ve written three social media books, which attracted a lot of attention in the early days of social media.

I follow authors, artists, and people in my line of work. I follow people who interest me and I want to have conversations with. They’re the people I remember, and the people who respond when I tweet something funny or ask for help with a problem, or even share something I’ve written.

I was recently followed by an author who had over 235,000 followers and was following 225,000. Needless to say, I ignored her. She had no interest in hearing what I had to say. At best, I’m one of a massive crowd. At worst, she’ll unfollow me later, letting her black market software fill the hole.

Even if people follow her, they probably don’t read her messages. They don’t know when she’s written a new book or see any new announcements. They don’t care about her, because she hasn’t shown she cares about them. Her strategy works if she’s relying on statistical probability to create sales, but as a true communication strategy, it’s ineffective.

You build a strong Twitter network the same way you make new friends: slowly, over time, letting people get to know you, and sharing in their interests. If everything grows naturally and organically, without being forced or faked, you’ll have a network of true fans and friends who want to support you and see you do your best.

Erik Deckers headshot 1065x1065Erik Deckers owns a content marketing agency in Indianapolis, and is the co-author of four books on social media. He is also a professional speaker and newspaper humor columnist, and was named a 2016 writer-in-residence at the Kerouac House Project.

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