Don’t use Twitter for Marketing?

Lately, I have seen a backlash against using Twitter for marketing. The main complaint is that after they develop a large group of followers, that many start to leave. They blame the people on Twitter. They call them fickle.

The problem is, most of the ones that are saying don’t use Twitter, don’t understand Twitter.

I like to compare Twitter to a large cocktail party. You come in, you find a small group of people to talk to, but around you other conversations are happening. As you move through the room. You catch snippets of some of the conversation. You repeat them to your core friends. They pass the snippets along if they think they are worthy.

Old style marketing comes to that same party and starts harking. “Roll up, Roll up!” They don’t engage with any of the groups. The only shout to get your attention. Is it any wonder that they are left standing alone at the end of the night.

Another group of people sees this happen. They do engage with other people at the party, but they only have four or five stories to share. They repeat them over and over again, then try to sell you something.

The harker and the repeats don’t understand the basic rule of Twitter. Be Social.

The first people I don’t follow (if they follow me) or drop are the repeaters. On Twitter they will tweet nothing but quotes, or links, or other tweets. Nothing original. If they are marketing, they never got their foot in the door.

The second group I don’t follow are the harkers. All they do is sell. It becomes boring.

Why do I bring all this up? Because there is a way to market on Twitter. The trick is to find your comfort level. The first thing you have to do, is engage with the people on your list. Respond to them, retweet the cool tweets, and comment to them on the Twitter feed if you followed one of their links and enjoyed it.

While you do that, slip in a mention that you have a book. Don’t be pushy. I send out about four tweets a day promoting my book. That’s it. Most of the other tweets are comments about what I am writing about, something on TV, complementing another writer, etc.

I was told once a good rule of thumb is one promotional tweet, then three non promotional. I suppose it could work if you like the number crunching. I send a link to your blog or your book, the next tweet better be a reply to someone, or a retweet. Because I have seen too many people use that rule of thumb this way:

  • Promotional tweet
  • Stupid observation.
  • Stupid observation.
  • Stupid observation (repeat)
  • They never look at their feed and respond to the people that follow them. There’s the mistake.

    So my feed might go this way.

  • Promotional tweet.
  • Reply to someone
  • Stupid observation.
  • Retweet
  • Stupid observation.
  • Reply
  • Post a link to a video I like
  • Reply
  • Retweet
  • Stupid observation (repeat)
  • Of course I don’t get bogged down in following that list to the letter, depends on what is happening on Twitter. You have to be fluid, you have to adjust to change. Tweeting about your book, when some horrible disaster has just happened, might not be the best plan, for example.

    Should you market on Twitter? Yes.
    Does it work? Yes.
    Then why do some people fail. Because they forgot the social part of Twitter. Be social, and you can sell.

    Addendum:
    There is a certain Twitter feed that breaks those rules. The ones run by business that want to inform you of events. So it is okay for a restaurant to post nothing but tweets about daily specials. Because you are following that feed for that information. You wouldn’t expect your favorite restaurant to respond to your comment about your cat.

    7 Comments

    1. bigwords88 says:

      Having been on Twitter a while, I’ve come to view it in much the same way that I view the areas of forums where general chatter is encouraged to remain – it’s somewhere you can blow off steam, converse about the things you find interesting, and (importantly) have fun. The insistence on selling things, which only a few people seem to have out of the many who will engage, gets old really quick and can easily be ignored.

      For the record, I haven’t once asked anyone to buy anything, and I’ve managed (incredibly, and possibly shamefully) to rack up over fourteen thousand tweets…

    2. mariminiatt says:

      From what I have seen, is too many authors hear that twitter is great for book marketing and become harkers. That’s why I wrote the post. And it’s not just self published authors that do that. Some well established ones do it too.

      If you are not following Neil Gaimen, @neilhimself, on Twitter, you should. (added bonus follow Amanda Palmer, @amandapalmer, too). Although he has a fan base big enough he doesn’t need to market. He still puts up links to his website, but that is not why you follow him. He does what more authors should do.

    3. I definately havent been using it enough so perhaps time to refocus too. Thanks for the post / sharing…. ive tweeted this … dave

    4. Great post and such good timing because I only joined Twitter yesterday as I’ve heard it’s good for writers, I am only just getting used to it, so I haven’t done much yet but yes, I think you need to do more than just send Tweets saying “read my book”

    5. Great post. I rarely use it as a sales pitch, but too often I neglect it in favor of writing or blogging. Someone once told me that only 30% of your tweets should be promotional and 70% tweets, retweets, and replies.

    6. A great post. Twitter is a social network like any other, which is why I don’t do much with it. I just can’t squeeze another one in!

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