One of the biggest struggles I have as an author is social media. As a novelist, I’m not known for my short-windness by far. I write stories, long stories, with lots of words.
Yet, what can I say when I’ve only got 140 characters to share?
Most of the time, I watch social media flutter across my screen, a reader, more than an author of my own tweets.
Did you know there are about 241 million monthly active users on Twitter?
Are you one of them?
Imagine it. 500 million tweets sent per day. At 140 characters max per tweet that’s like…well, that’s too many zeros for me to even try to comprehend. It's like mini chunks of a a novel or even a series of novels. How would we keep up with all of them?
We'd have to be twitterpated, right?
For many of us authors, it’s a love/ hate relationship with Twitter. We feel it’s our duty to tweet. We have to get our name out there, make a presence for ourselves. And we have to do it in 140 characters or less.
As an active user, we can scan down the tweets on our feed glancing at the ones of interest and ignore the annoying ones. You know the ones where authors tweet every 5th tweet, “buy my book.”
Every spring my kids and take peanut butter and bird seed and make feeders to hang on the only tree in our back yard. Throughout the following days, we watch from the window or on the back porch for the birds that visit our tree and enjoy the buffet we’ve left for them.
We refill that feeder often; otherwise I know the birds would not return. We have even found a few squirrels hanging out and licking peanut butter goodness from their paws.
I love sitting on my back swing and watching those birds. They’re vibrant beauty brings a smile and a little zing to my heart that lifts my spirits throughout the day.
As an author, I think there is much we can learn from the birds that is applied so aptly to Twitter. Why else would we call it tweets?
There are three basic principals we can all apply to our Twitter feeds as authors.
1. Feed our flock
2. Refill often
3. Respect them for who they are
Birds are an animal of survival. They’re looking for food like worms and birdseed. Those you find on Twitter are looking for something, too. They’re hungry for information and connections. They’re not looking for fillers, but meaty tweets with real information from real people.
If all you ever do on Twitter is reply to other people’s tweet or retweet something you liked that was said by another tweeter, you’ll be so much more ahead of the game than just linking up to your book and saying “buy this.”
Birds don’t like spam; neither do those who hang out on Twitter.
Feed those who perch on your virtual tree. Most likely, they have the similar interest as you do or have found your writing interesting enough to want to hang out on a limb with you.
Once they’re in the same tree with you, don’t forget to refill the feeder.
Birds and followers are scavengers, they’ll soon wonder away if you no longer have anything of interest to them.
As an author, it’s hard to know what exacta mixture of tweets will satisfy your flock. I like to keep mine fresh with quotes, photos, videos, random thoughts, and questions that allow others to give their input on a current project.
Only you know what mix of tweets works best, but keep the feeder full unless it’s time for migration.
Like birds, your readers are of many species. Not all of them will share your faith, your ideals, or even your values. So when they decide to take flight, don’t despair. There are millions of birds out there looking to take that open spot on your branch.
When one bird leaves, be grateful for the time they shared your feed.
We are all birds of a feather as the saying goes. Some of us fly south for the winter, while others take formations of vee. Some birds can’t fly. Yet, all birds lay eggs and hatch their young.
Just like I know that you, as an author, can hatch a flock of your own on Twitter.
Are you feeling twitterpated yet?
Romantic at heart, this crafty mom has written for various online and print magazines, newspapers, and online venues. Susan is the treasure of the Saint Davids Christian Writers Association and Director of the West Branch Christian Writers one-day conference. When Susan isn't writing, she enjoys crafting, visiting friends, and a good cup of tea. You can download her FREE ebook Emma's Dilemma when you visit her at www.susanlower.com