6 Reasons Writers Should Use Twitter

When I first heard of Twitter.com, I could not imagine why I would want to use it. Several writers I know dragged me into it, and after a few weeks, I began to see its value. Here are just a few reasons why writers should use Twitter:

1. Train yourself to write a complete thought in a concise 140 characters or less. (Bonus points for correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation!) Ruthlessly pare messages to their essential core. Twitter will have you writing like Hemingway in no time.

2. Build your network of colleagues; try a search for writers, authors, or librarians. Look for avid readers, too!

3. Promote your writing, your blog, your books, your brand. Just remember to keep the “social” in social media. Don’t act like you’re wearing a sandwich board 24/7. That’s boring!

4. Procrastinate. Twittering lets you look like you’re doing something productive.

5. Glean article and story ideas from recent tweets; discern trends. @ reply to interested Twitterers (Twits?) when posted or published.

6. Learn from others. Keep an eye out for useful, topical articles, books, and posts promoted by others. Read, read, read…and comment. Remember to re-Tweet generously, and others may do the same for you!



24 thoughts on “6 Reasons Writers Should Use Twitter”

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. I originally joined Twitter so I could live tweet during my favorite shows, but I’ve come to realize over the past year that it’s a great networking hub for writers. I’ve connected with so many self-published authors. As soon as I finished my novel, I can’t wait to get started marketing.
    Some great accounts I follow are Book Marketing Tools @bkmkting and DIY Author @DIYauthor. Great articles.

  2. I like 4. Procrastinate!
    I just got the error that my comment was not long enough so I shall attempt to be CONCISE!

    1. 🙂 Don’t you mean LESS concise? Yes, there’s a minimum word count set by the Bouncer to keep the spaminals at bay. It works. Unfortunately, it also means that good people like you can’t (a) copy/paste a long reply composed offline without manually adding about 10 words; (b) write nothing but “I like 4. Procrastinate!” or “Good morning!” without getting sent back to the blackboard to write s’more words. But spambots can’t do it, and even human spammers often find it hardly worth the effort to actually TYPE OUT that many words.

  3. Holly, another subject on which I can agree with you 100%.
    You make a great argument for twitter.

    I have been on it since 2008. Spend more time on it than on all the other social media sites combined, probably 20 to 30 minutes in total most days.

    twitter sends more visitors to my blog than any other site – did so even when I spent much more time on Facebook or Linked In.

    I have “met” interesting people on twitter with whom I continue great conversations (of more than 140 characters) in other media.

    Most of all it’s quick, I find it far less of a time consuming black hole than other social media sites.

    1. Facebook has always given me a bit more traffic than Twitter. BUT, I think your comment says a lot about why – and I don’t think it’s about the amount of time spent on either site, but the regular engagement (the “social” part of “social media”) with people who care about what you have to say or to sell.

      It’s really clear to me that all the autopilot gadgets on social media have led to “have your bot call my bot and maybe they can do lunch some day in 2050” – it’s boring and like spam, people grow wary and weary and savvy to it all. They feel used and abused and won’t play. So it follows that the best results come from the places where YOU play – where you’re having actual conversations. For me, that’s more Facebook than Twitter, but you definitely get out of it what you put into it.

  4. I have to admit that when I first heard of Twitter I thought it sounded like the stupidest thing ever. Back then I was testing things so I could write about them, so I did, and I’ve never looked back. I can say this though, it certainly changed my mind about a lot of well known people who were saying some of the most hateful things about Barack Obama when he was running for president, way out of the ordinary candidate hate stuff.

    1. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

      I always thought of Twitter as the texting equivalent of a massive party line. (The phone type of “party line,” that is.) Kind of a weird, retro concept, but it came out when retro was cool and I’m not sure anyone even realized the parallel.

      As for the thinking of people differently, I think you just helped to crystallize one of the points I’ve been trying to make in our “disagreement” over free speech – about consequences. Yes, it changes what I think of people. It doesn’t change how I treat them, unless it’s beyond normal thoughtlessness. You know, if someone’s advocating for hate crimes, then hell yes it changes how I treat them. If they’re just being a grumbly sort of horrible, I will continue to treat them with respect like I do any stranger – but I won’t warm up and get close to them. I won’t cut them out of my life if they’re family or WERE close friends – I’ll say, “Really? Why?” I’ll work with them quite pleasantly, if we’re colleagues (I can compartmentalize). In short, it doesn’t change who I AM or how I BEHAVE. If I had to stop someone from acting on their BS, I’d do that. But again, I’m not the thought police and punishing someone for having a crappy thought isn’t my style. If that transfers over to how THEY behave towards others – you know, into action – that’s different. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

      1. I cut them all out of my life; in my opinion, true colors showed up and that was that for me. Some of them tried to reach out to me afterwards; I ignored them and moved on. Some of them were celebrities, folks I’d kind of liked… I moved away from them also. If I can’t respect you, I don’t want to be involved with you; always my motto, always my life.

      2. Yeah, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to let some people go from your life. You sometimes get the sense that it’s for the best, all the way around – certainly lowers everyone’s blood pressure. I am saying I wouldn’t fire someone for being a bit of an ass on their Facebook wall, if in reality they treat others – all others – with courtesy and do good work. (I suppose it stems from that epiphany I had one morning during the commute – as I went to flip off some a**hole on the road, I realized that maybe not today or tomorrow, but SOME day, and more than once, I’m going to be somebody else’s “A**hole!!!”)

        I’m not going to disown a family member because we have fundamental disagreements over whether FOX is “news” or “entertainment” or just “mean-spirited waste of air time.” I might block some channels during holiday get-togethers. 😉

        I like to save the big guns for bigger offenses.

  5. Studies have shown that, when interrupted, it takes the average human 25 min. to get back on task.

    I’m not average – it takes me much longer.

    Why would I want to be interrupted several times a second?

    I don’t get it. I’m pretty sure the people who are in my target audience don’t tweet or let the silly things register in their consciousnesses. So I leave the place to you and anyone else who thinks they can get interrupted regularly and still think, while wishing you the best of luck.

    YMMV, as the kids say.

    1. I’d bet you’re right about that – and it goes back to thinking about your strategy: know your audience, know how much time and energy you can spend on marketing, and choose the sites that will give you the best return on that investment. You do NOT have to spread yourself peanut butter thin, and it’s best not to try. Think about how it looks to potential customers to stumble onto an abandoned blog or twitter account – it’s disappointing. You do not want to give your customers the impression that you’ve died or abandoned writing altogether! (I actually looked up a popular, bestelling author the other day – one who was rockin’ it on social media for years – and it’s been so long since he posted or tweeted that I’m actually worried about his well-being.)

  6. I did twitter for awhile. I found it very interesting during the
    Arab Spring to be able to keep up with what was going on in various places from people who were actually there. My use dwindled after that.

    The discussion you had with Mitch above made me think that perhaps how personal the hate speech feels determines how one reacts. I would ditch any racist speakers too because it feels very personal to me.

    Finding Eliza

    1. I think that to be an avid reader and writer is to have an overdeveloped sense of empathy. (Maybe not always with the right people, eh?) I take it personally whenever someone wants to deny rights to people based on some trait they’re BORN with. I was born a woman; it’s not a stretch, for me, to empathize with people of a different race or ethnicity. I was born with blond hair; it’s not a stretch for me to empathize with people whose skin color is different. I just don’t understand how humans can be so BAD to other humans. (I don’t even like, let alone LOVE, many of my fellow humans – but there aren’t many people I’d want to see deprived or hurting, even a little bit.) Sure, a little snark and sarcasm are fun, sometimes. I tell all my friends I don’t edit their Facebook posts, but I WILL exploit a good typo if it has any humor value in it! Still, I’m not really mean-spirited. I try to play fair even with politicians I can’t stand – I have no problem picking on them when they want to pick on some portion of their constituents, or when they display amazing acts of hypocrisy – but I hate those memes that misquote or make up LIES about them (even if they sound perfectly plausible and in character) just to make their miserable lives more miserable.

  7. I remember twitter. Years ago, I had an account. The one thing I found was the best about Twitter was finding Blip.FM, a music site where everyone was a DJ. It was great fun.

    1. Oh, I remember blip.fm. 🙂 Everyone was a DJ, but did anyone tune in and LISTEN to anyone but their own selections? Have you tried Spotify? You can share your playlists and follow others.

    1. Then you’re definitely following the wrong people, Liz! 🙂 You’re right, there’s a lot of spam and shady links, but that’s true of the whole Internet. You find me a site that’s free of that – I mean it, find me a site that’s free of it. Tell me verrrry quietly, and I’ll whisper it to my friends. We all want to know where this electronic Nirvana is. 🙂

  8. I don’t spend as much time on Twitter as I used to but that has more to do with a lack of free time in general than anything else.

    I agree it can be a great tool for writers. Sometimes I’ll float over and just work on trying to be witty in 140 characters.

    It is a good tool for helping to tighten our writing.

    1. Hi, Josh! Good to see you over here. I enjoy seeing whether I can hit EXACTLY 140 characters in a meaningful, (mostly) grammatically correct, properly spelled/punctuated tweet. It’s a fun game! Come try it. Definitely helps tighten the writing, done that way. It amazes me how often it can be done, too.

  9. Hi Holly,
    I think twitter helps us to write a big messages to post in a precise manner. And Although, it was a short post, But I enjoyed reading.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Robin! Twitter’s a great place to practice writing short and snappy headlines, too. It’s a challenge and a game, sometimes – but it really can help with the editing skills if you try to condense a big thought into 140 characters without resorting to shorthand and text-speak.

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