What to Tweet?

Twitter Content GuideHaving content to Tweet about is never a problem when you remember the 75/25 rule for social media: share other people’s stuff 75% of the time and your own content only 25% of the time. Besides creating good social media karma, following this rule means that 75% of the content in your Twitter feed is being created for you. That leaves just 25% for you to worry about – and since you have a blog – right? – no problem!

Keep in mind the three goals of Tweeting for authors: finding new readers, nurturing relationships with allies and nurturing your existing fan base. You can read more about them in a previous post, Twitter for Authors – Worth It?

Sharing other peoples’ content

Start by subscribing to content that is of interest to you and therefore likely to be of interest to your readership (actual and potential). By subscribing (rather than remembering to go check their blogs etc.) there will be a steady stream of good sharable content in front of you every day. I subscribe to quite a few blogs and use Feedly to pull it all together and organize it. In particular, I segregate feeds from Allies (and potential Allies) in one folder, and feeds very specific to my brand (“Author Business”) in another. That way, when I’m pressed for time I make sure I read-and-share the important stuff first.

Your primary Twitter role is to curate content for your followers, which basically means that you screen the content for them, sharing only the best and most relevant. Don’t forget the “read” part of “read-and-share”– avoid blindly re-sharing content, even from trusted sources. I learned this the hard way when I shared a post just based on a catchy title from a blogger I like, then had one of my followers object to the actual content and realized to my embarrassment that I agreed with my follower. An “oops” like that can undermine your authority in a hurry. I also make sure that what I’m sharing is not a fluff piece or a re-hash of pretty basic information, but has substance and depth.

The secondary source of other people’s content for me is simply following the Twitter feeds of allies and authorities in the field, and Retweeting any of their Tweets that you didn’t cover in your blog post reading. This can be expert content they’ve shared from their blog reading or their own “other Tweets” (see below). Again, click the link in their Tweets and check the content before Retweeting. It just takes a couple of seconds.

Since you’re reading the blogs and following the feeds anyway for your own benefit, it takes very little extra time to share other people’s content with your followers.

Sharing your own content

The primary source of your own content for all your social media sharing should be your own blog because the primary purpose of all social media is to get potential readers to your website, where you can convert them into fans and subscribers (see Email Marketing for Authors: Introduction). This works because tweeting the blog post will automatically create a link back to your blog. Again, since you’re blogging anyway, it takes very little additional work to create the majority of your Tweets.

Other Tweets can be quick reactions to news, little AHA moments, a quote you like, a recent addition to your Pinterest board, or something interesting that just happened to you.

How often do authors need to Tweet?

Experts are all over the map on what minimum Tweeting is necessary, but these experts are rarely addressing the needs of authors and their readers. What I’ve noticed is that very few authors Tweet more than a couple of times a day (more for non-fiction authors), and those that actually Tweet more have a robo-Tweet scheme going. (There are good reasons and ways to go the robo-Tweet route, but my belief is that you can get a great deal of the potential benefit of Tweeting without it, especially early in building your Twitter platform).

Guideline: Tweet when you have something excellent to say or share. Don’t Tweet for the sake of getting your frequency up. A major purpose of your author platform is to build trust and authority with your readers, and Tweeting junk will undermine both. Some days, your Tweeting frequency will be zero.

What does an author Twitter habit look like?

The habits of authors vary all over the map, naturally, but here’s what I do now:

  1. When I’m scanning my important RSS feeds (allies and other bloggers with great content), whenever I determine that the post is something I’d be proud to share AND is of interest to my followers, I Tweet it, using HootSuite to automatically schedule it for me. This results in anywhere from 0 to 10 Tweets scheduled throughout the day and adds practically no time to a task I’m doing anyway.
  2. When I put up a new blog post, I Tweet it 2-3 times that week (again, you can schedule these in advance).
  3. If anyone re-Tweets my own content Tweets, I re-Tweet their Tweet (building social media karma).
  4. If anyone directly responds to my Tweets, I respond back (Direct Message).

Here’s what I’m planning to add in the future:

  • Scheduling my current blog posts so that they’re out there in prime time in different time zones, and again the following week and following month. It’s important, especially with a fast-moving medium like Twitter, to get important Tweets out there multiple times so your followers, whenever they’re online, see your Tweets before they get too far down their feed timelines.
  • Scheduling older blog posts for re-Tweeting at different times during each week to share with new followers and anyone who missed the first set of exposures.

Since I’m reading other peoples blogs and creating my own posts anyway, and now that I’ve learned how to use HootSuite, it shouldn’t (:-)) take me more than 10-15 minutes a day to maintain the Twitter part of my platform. That’s enough content and frequency to get your word out there without getting bogged down in the TwitterVerse.

What about you guys? Tweet a lot? A little? Regular or irregular? How much is your own content vs. other authors?


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.