Sunday, 29 January 2012

Five Lessons I've Learned About Twitter: Lesson #5

I opened my Twitter account, @MichaelJMcCann1, just over three months ago as a way to gain additional exposure for my novel, Blood Passage, and the others in the series that will soon follow. I did so reluctantly, because I didn’t really understand the concept and didn’t want to devote even more of my rapidly-shrinking time to another dubious social medium that made me grouchy just to think about it. Fortunately, friends and fellow writers @JasmineAziz and @kenmbyars insisted, so I went home, opened the account, and tried to figure it out.

Since then I’ve attracted over 550 followers at a rate of about five a day, I’ve posted almost 1,200 tweets, and I've spent a fair bit of time doing so, more than I’d like to admit. While I'm still a very small fish in the Twitter sea I’m pleased at how it’s gone so far. Thinking about it today I decided there were five clear lessons I’ve learned about Twitter that I thought I’d share with you over the course of the coming week, beginning with Lesson #5 and counting down to #1, which has had the biggest impact on me to date.

Bear in mind that after three months I’m hardly an expert. Just the opposite, actually, because I know I’ve only scraped the surface of this remarkable medium. So I invite you to leave your comments below and share with me some of the things YOU’VE learned about Twitter.

Lesson 5
Twitter Has A Lot Of Marketing Potential

Apparently Twitter has more than 100 million active users. Holy cow! Just looking at that number makes it obvious Twitter’s a marketplace unlike any other the world has known. If only one percent of these users bought my book, I’d be a million-copy seller! 

Ah. If only I could figure out how to reach those darned one percenters.

I’m using Twitter in such a way that it fits into my overall marketing scheme. I also maintain two websites, one for Michael J. McCann and one for The Plaid Raccoon Press (actually there’s a third, free website promoting my first book but it will eventually come down), and I maintain this blog, The Overnight Bestseller.

The two websites serve as information stations about me as an author and The Plaid Raccoon as a micropublisher, and they also serve as portals to the points of sale where readers can purchase the books, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and local bookstores. As such, they’re relatively stable and require only periodic maintenance.

This blog is a more active medium. To put it in marketing terms, this is the spot where I’m actively developing my brand as crime fiction author Michael J. McCann. Trust me that I’m cringing as I write this, because it sounds impersonal and insincere, but in actual fact it’s not. Readers look for certain characteristics in the authors they read, and I’m working to develop and display them here on a consistent basis. Traits such as professionalism, a high level of literacy, and a positive attitude are examples of what I’m working toward here because they're what I value as a person.

Finally, Twitter is the most active medium in which I’m currently working. (I’ll get to Facebook in Lesson #3, later.) I’m trying to develop the same consistent traits in my tweets as here in this blog, and I’m using Twitter to drive traffic downstream, as it were, to the blog, websites and points of sale. 

I’ve definitely seen results in three months. Not tremendous results, mind you, but a trickle. Trickles are great. Trickles are just fine, thank you.

I've run a few experiments. At one point I posted a coupon code here in The Overnight Bestseller for a free copy of Blood Passage through Smashwords. I then used Twitter to direct followers here for the code, hoping they would then hop over to Smashwords and download the book. In retrospect it was far too early in the game. I saw through the numbers that it would work, but would work much better with more followers and different kinds of followers.

Ah, now there's an interesting point. How do I attract and keep followers who will be willing to buy and read my books? I've noticed that writers follow writers, and writers follow bloggers, and bloggers follow writers, and so on and so on. But I don't think a lot of writers buy the books of other writers. Am I wrong? I think a lot of writers checked out my blog and Smashwords profile to compare it to theirs.


I've been trying to engage other Twitter communities in my Follows, hoping they'll turn out to be readers who follow back and buy people's books. Indie musicians, artists, craftspeople, photographers, foodies. The odd social media specialist.... People different than myself, with different priorities, different lives, different obsessions. But wait, I'm anticipating Lesson #1, and I've got three others to discuss before that.

Have you also tried to attract followers from different circles than your own? How has it worked? And have you had success in using Twitter as a marketing tool?

Please feel free to let me know in your comments. And stay tuned:

Tomorrow: Lesson #4: Twitter Has A Lot of Research Potential


  1. I'm a novice to twitter so I don't have much of an opinion at all. I find the whole thing very difficult to deal with (the topic of an upcoming blog post actually). the amount of hours a person would have to spend on there is phenomenal in order for their reach to get very far. Unless of course they're already famous. Some people tweet every minute 24/7. How is that possible and what are they doing with their lives???

  2. Thanks, Lan. It's true, as I admitted (sort of) above, you can spend a great deal of time on Twitter if you let it happen. How people manage to tweet 24/7 though is something I learned about in Lesson #2, so stay tuned!

  3. I have been with twitter for say 4 months and do put in time getting followers to inform them about my blog. It can take time which I only have at night and over the weekend as I have a day job. My blog is a story about true events and I am writing it as hopefully one day it will be published as an ebook. My day job is in marketing and I feel that is so important to get your name about. I am not an author just a first time writer trying and slowly succeeding in writing something this book. I have 9 chapters already and half way though....Check out my blog, follow and comment??Thanks for follow, back at you, also check out my blog and follow/comment,

    I will be back tomorrow....also following your blog...

  4. Dave, thanks very much for dropping in and following The Overnight Bestseller. I'm definitely following back. Good luck with your blog and your writing. I'll definitely follow your story and see how it comes out! Let us all know how useful you find Twitter, and stay tuned for the other four lessons I've learned.