Twitter is a highly effective social media tool for writers when used properly (which is code for DON’T SPAM US ABOUT YOUR BOOK). There seems to be a lot of concern about numbers of followers, but I want to give some advice:
Ignore the Numbers
There is only one reason we need to care about Twitter numbers. We need to be following enough people in return or Twitter will not allow us to follow more. There is a certain ratio to be maintained and this is just one of many ways that Twitter combats spammers. If I click on someone and they are following 350 people and have 3 followers? That’s a HUGE clue this is a bot.
Yes, I have over 9,300 followers (I had to look it up), but I was also a member of Twitter before anyone knew what the heck it was. I’ve been on Twitter FIVE YEARS. New people get wrapped up in not having enough followers, but just relax.
Talk to people. Use hashtags. Create relationships. #MyWANA is a great place to start because I warn people once about auto-tweeting then I report them as spammers. A good number of the people using #MyWANA are real people.
Large Numbers DO NOT Mean More Influence
There are all kinds of services out there willing to get you a zillion followers for a fee. When you see someone has 25,000 followers, maybe they worked to get that following, but they also could have paid for it.
WANA is all about a team. We work together, thus content travels exponentially, not linearly. I don’t need 25,000 followers to reach 25,000 people. I just need a couple more people with decent followings to tweet or REtweet what I have to offer.
Having 50,000 followers doesn’t translate into influence. It’s akin to me me holding up a phone book claiming I have 50,000 “friends.”
WANA is a lot about doing more with less. It’s why I stress authenticity. People ignore automation, and they RESENT automation made to look like a real person. I just followed a writer and immediately got this auto-tweet:
Thanks for following! Which do you prefer? Vampires or werewolves?
I’m sure some social media expert recommended this behavior, but it is SPAM and it is ANNOYING. I wanted to tweet back, Actually, I prefer people not to crap up my DMs with automated silliness.
Focusing on the Numbers Can Be a Ticket to Crazy Town
Piper Bayard used to make me nuts with this when I first dragged her on to Twitter back in 2009. She’d have a day where she lost a handful of followers and then she’d comb through her tweets worried she’d said the wrong thing or insulted someone. Instead of focusing on writing, she wanted to eat chocolate and cry.
She’s totally outgrown this, btw.
I never look at my numbers (unless I am writing a blog and I have to get an idea where I stand). We can lose followers for any number of reasons, and often it has NOTHING to do with us.
Aside from Being an @$$clown
Unless you are misbehaving and being unprofessional FUGGETABOUTIT. And if you are misbehaving and being unprofessional, STOP IT. What takes years to build takes minutes to destroy.
Twitter is awesome because we can go viral more easily than any other social site…but it can be a nightmare because we can go viral more easily than any other social site.
Some random woman made a snarky, mean comment about Ice T’s wife and fans went for her digital throat. She practically had to go into Witness Protection, and the comment, I’m sure, was nothing she thought much about before she tweeted it.
Yes, we tweet in our jammies, but we are not alone.
We can be real, fun, chatty, and authentic. We can even engage in deep discussion. BUT if you couldn’t say it at the company BBQ and expect to still have a JOB the next day…DON’T TWEET IT.
As far as losing followers. Ignore the numbers and save the angst.
Reasons We Lose Followers (Aside from Acting Like an @$$clown)
Twitter Could Have Taken Down The Account
A lot of those who follow us are bots. They could have finally been “found out” and reported enough and Twitter smited them…and now you’re eating a pan of brownies and calling your therapist because Twitter did you a favor and smited a bot.
Some People Get Hacked and Have to Start Over
Some people get hacked and have to close down an account. Often, if you tweet good stuff…they will find you. Depending on how the person is hacked, they could lose all their followers. Don’t freak out. The person hacked will look for you and refollow.
Some People Don’t Have HootSuite or TweetDeck and Get Overwhelmed
People are getting more and more social media savvy, but those of us who use TweetDeck or HootSuite are spoiled. We have a tool that manages all the influx. We can be chatting away, not realizing some Twitter Noob with Regular Twitter thinks we are blowing up their feed and they are having a complete panic attack.
OMG!!! @KristenLambTX never SHUTS UP! She’s tweeted four times in the past 30 minutes.
Often they might unfollow, then complain to a friend…who then shows them the beauty of HootSuite and TweetDeck and then they realize we really weren’t tweeting too much. They had the wrong format to manage any active conversations on Twitter.
Some People Simply Lack Good Taste
And of course there is this: We cannot be all things to all people. Shocking as it may sound there are even people who don’t like me.
I know, right? Which proves there are plenty of people in the world who lack taste and the sophistication to appreciate how awesome we are. They probably hate kittens and unicorns too, so just feel super sad for them and hope they come to their senses.
At the end of the day, focus on people, not numbers, not technology. Have you ever nearly had a panic attack when you saw you’d lost followers? Do you ignore your numbers? Do you now feel super liberated because you have permission to LOOK AWAY?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I have friends who teach social media at universities as part of the Continuing Ed program. They suggest the importance of engagement, not the numbers. Numbers can be bought, they are deceiving, they are added if you do such and so. But if you are able to interact with your 850 followers, then you have something. If the same folks buy your books, read your articles, that is something. That is what is probably the most useful, not the numbers…which some author friends have at 18,000 and up. If you are a celebrity, i.e. Ed Norton or Leo D.C. then it is a different matter. They are often on social media to enhance their non profits. A great social media maven, super great is George Takei…on FB. He is able to respond, he is funny and he is totally marvelous and has made his second career as a maven on FB. Check him out…he’ll friend you and then sit back an laugh. He is Star Trek … the only Asian on there.
Funny and great post. I’ve been looking away the last couple of days it is very liberating. I couldn’t go completely off-line though, panic would set in lol.
I barely know how to use Twitter let alone know enough to be caught up with the number of followers, lol. Hence my reading your blog on the regular. I need much help knowing how to more effectively use Twitter to build relationships – that’s where my anxiety lies. Sigh.
Thanks Kristen, this is important advice and terribly useful, I’m sure many who are new to Twitter are wondering what’s happening with those followers…The numbers go up and down and there’s really no reason or explanation, best to ignore it! At first (that was 3 years ago when I started) I worried, but now I don’t. I’ve given up trying to understand and I’m much happier! I simply focus on using Twitter the way I enjoy it, commenting on articles I find interesting…like this one!
I get regular Twitter notices that new people/companies/whoknowswhat are following me. I always check them out, but I don’t follow a lot of them back because their daily posts are all promotions or I really don’t care about real estate, or insurance, or their offer of marketing skills–and sometimes they’re just kind of creepy. If all the people who followed me actually stayed following me, my numbers would be astronomic. But if they don’t get my immediate ‘follow’ back, they drop me. It’s all about the numbers for them, and it’s not for me. And that’s okay.
thanks Kristen, you gave me a few take away points, as I’m new to twitter and didn’t think to go to TweetDeck or HootSuite…as always, whenever I’m feeling a little down about this writing, your posts have the ability to make my outlook a little better, and get me excited about trying a few new things….
Mostly I ignore the numbers, but I have I admit that I get a little sad when I see that I’ve lost a follower. I’ve been working at my blog (and Twitter to a lesser degree) for over a year now and my following is still pretty tiny so I can’t help but feel a bit of a wrench in my guy if I get an email telling me that so-and-so decided to stop watching me.
But I try not to lose my mind, I promise. 🙂
Thanks, Kristen. I am really new to Twitter and follow the social media advice in your book (We Are Not Alone) semi-religiously. I haven’t lost any followers yet, but in two weeks, how could I? Now I’m prepared!
Great article! I’m still getting my toes wet on Twitter/HootSuite and have been uber picky about who I follow, so my follower’s list is growing slow, but steady. And I’m glad to hear that you think those auto replies are spam…they drive me nuts but I assumed that was standard protocol. Good thing I haven’t set up auto reply on my end. *whew*
Wisdom from the Buddah! Thanks Kristen.
I was just thinking about this exact subject yesterday. Thanks for this post. It seems like my follower number has been staying the same, even though I am notified every day that I have a couple of new followers.
You’re so right to focus on the people, not the numbers! There are so many reasons those numbers can change and I’m new to twitter so I’ve wondered about that, so thanks for pointing out those possible reasons. I’d love to learn more about effective ways to use Hootsuite and TweetDeck!
I don’t follow back something like 80% of the people who follow me (mostly baseball fans there for news more than interaction) and I kind of delight in saying controversial/obnoxious/hopefully funny things, and I still have moments where I get broken up over losing a couple followers. Twitter seems to bring out that tendency we all have deep down to want to please everybody, even if that’s not actually what we’re trying to do at all. This is a helpful list of things to keep in mind. 🙂
I love reading your blog and I am a novice at Twitter, I have over 400 followers, don’t know how lol. I still do not understand # why or when to use them x
I periodically try to get back into Twitter but my schedule seems way off from everyone else’s making it hard to interact in a timely manner. I’ll tweet for a bit and then check back in the next day to see someone replied an hour after I logged out which is now 18 or more hours ago. This temporally-twisted talking feels so odd. Is that just me?
I’ve always preferred quality over quantity in pretty much any aspect of my life – of course I might be deluding myself to have a very exclusive circle of followers, therefore numbers don’t matter – so I don’t see much reason to go crazy over who’s gonna be the twitter prom-queen for the next 30 sec., because as we all know social media is incredibly fast-paced. Did I mention that I don’t share the taste of the masses!?
“Some People Don’t Have HootSuite or TweetDeck and Get Overwhelmed” This is me. I know I should get started. I don’t have a smart phone or a tablet, so I only ever look at Twitter if I happen to think of opening it on my computer’s browser. After I finish my current WIP, I’ll get my Twitter butt in gear…
I love, love, love this post. Oh twitter I call it the pick up one follower drop 52 game I ended up leaving twitter cause I was just so discouraged I thought I was doing something wrong. Thank you for sharing all those tips maybe I’ll give twitter another try.
Oh boy, yeah. I need to get HootSuite or a similiar ap. I really don’t get Twitter yet, and that may be part of the problem. And this is coming from someone who worked in internet development at a time where my boss and I got really excited that someone _actually_ put their URL on a billboard! Facebook, I get. Blogs, I get. Twitter? What are all these young whippersnappers going on about? Get off my virtual lawn! 😉
I am very reluctant with twitter, primarily because the idea of having a twitter ‘conversation’ makes absolutely no sense to me. I know, I’m hopeless. However, I am amazed at people who follow me. I always send a ‘Thanks for the follow!’ when someone new pops up. Now I realize they probably think I’m a bot. geesh!
Very helpful and encouraging post. I promise as soon as I get by the nasty twitter trap of 2000 followers/following ratio I won’t be concerned about numbers….
Twitter is still pretty new for me so, any help you offer is appreciated. Thanks.
Thanks, nice information!
More often than not you are the sane empowering blog in a world of OMG! Thanks
Thank you, Julie. I super appreciate that :D.
I would really like to see pictures of a spambot, before and after the smiting …
So you are yelling at me that I should NOT schedule tweets?
I am thrilled beyond reason that you posted this today. Just this morning I cringed when I realized my upward climb toward 400 followers had slid back three. I’ve been hanging my hopes on 400 Twitter followers for months now…why? I have no frigging clue. it just seemed like a nice round number and something I could be proud of *yay, people like me and find what I have to say incredibly important*. hahaha…it feels kind of silly now, that desire.
You’re right, I should simply FUGGETABOUTIT. I’m not a bot, I don’t spam people, I’m a conscientious Tweeter and I love RTing people’s good news, so I should spend more time working on my WIP and less time worrying about my stats.
Thank you for this eye opener!!!
Hugs to you Kristen!!!
By the way, are you attending RWA this year?
have a great day!
So great! I taught a social media workshop at a writers conference this weekend and made many of the same points, especially about being real and not essentially sending junk mail in the name of “marketing.” It takes time to build relationships anywhere, but even a small, dedicated tribe can have influence. Thanks for helping stop the insanity!
Reblogged this on Morsels For Monsters and commented:
Hello my fellow Indies! Remember that post I wrote about how difficult it is to find good advice for Indie writers? I’d like to take a moment to tell you all about Kristin Lamb since she has never published a post that I didn’t find particularly helpful or insightful. Today’s post from her blog is particularly apt, especially considering I was just talking about efficient use of Twitter in my last post, “Am I Tweeting or Just Farting into The Wind?” Give her post a read as the information is great and will give you yet one more reason to relax and enjoy your Indie writing venture. Here book, “We are Not Alone”‘ discusses many aspects of the Indie writing experience. You might consider following her, as her internet works centers around building a community of Indie writers who support each other in many different ways. Enjoy her! She’s hilarious as well as entrepreneurial and I always enjoy her posts.
And I promise you all a properly written post tomorrow! You know day jobs… they get SO MAD when you skip your shift to stay home and write 😉
Until next time, fellows!
THANK YOU ((HUGS))!
No thank YOU for always supplying us with such great content! It was definitely my pleasure to share it 🙂
As always a great post, Kristen. Judging from the comments, there are a lot of us out here, still struggling a bit with Twitter. I’m much better about retweeting and FBing people’ blogs that I especially like, or if someone’s book is coming out. Had a brief conversaiton with a couple fo folks, would have worked better if I’d been there in real time. But after a couple of posts, I went on to other work. Checked back and saw I’d missed out on a whole stream. But from that I learned how you can have a conversation on Twitter, which is something i’ve really doubted.
Hate to admit, but I’ve never notices the numbers dropping. Mostly I’ve noticed how many followers I have to the number I follow. I’m just glad I’ve progressed to the part of tweeting fairly regularly as opposed to never. LOL I don’t use either of the organization tools. I don’t want to have to learn one other thing for now. Later, I’m sure I will. 🙂 I never say never anymore.
Yep, will definitely have to be patient with the fluctuating twitter numbers!
I only get upset when someone I know personally unfollows me. That person is someone I actually know or knew outside of Twitter, and to see them unfollow me is a big “hmph!” from me. Oh well. It sucks but screw them. 🙂
But again, unless you know you did something wrong, they could have been hacked. I try to give the benefit of the doubt as much as possible. Good in life and technology :D.
No they weren’t hacked and were still active. If I did anything wrong, it was me tweeting during election time *shrugs*
Ergo why I strongly advise against tweeting on sex, politics and religion (unless those topics are part of our brand E.g. a political writer). It’s the same as an office party. It can get ugly quickly and people get hurt. I’m not saying you were this way, but I’ve had writers I simply had to unfollow because I was really tired of my belief system being beaten up and mocked non-stop. Every time I saw their person post, I had indigestion. A lot of people are trying to be on social media to escape that stuff or they’d be tuning into CNN or FOX not Twitter. I just say, steer clear. Talk about that stuff in person with people you know you won’t hurt.
I’m trying to get back on the Twitter bandwagon. Facebook and I get along fine. It’s my happy place. Twitter is more like plugging my pinky into a nuclear reactor. I do like your comment about how we can’t be all things to all people. Man, do I struggle with that. I’m getting better though.
Reblogged this on Sarah Solmonson and commented:
Authentic relationships, people – no one is interested in your spam!
My Numero Uno Rule is “Never, ever drink and post.” It’s like opening the door to the bar you are getting sh#$faced and inviting in all of your followers!
Most people have great ‘authentic-o-meters’. They can smell the fertiliser a mile away. And spam gets really smelly really quickly!
I’m not on Twitter but plan to one of these days. I know it’s an important social networking tool, but just haven’t found the time to join. But I’ll keep in mind your valuable advice when I do.
Question: I’m stalled out at 2001 “follows” on twitter. How can I get to where Twitter will allow me to follow more @s? Also, once more people are following you, this will help your ratio.
Your ratio is off. Go get rid of bots following you. I used to use Twitter Karma. Don’t know if that tool is still the best.
I’m still learning Twitter, so please forgive a few more questions: 1) what should I expect the ratio to be? 2) Explain “bots”?
Hehe I ignore the stats most of the time, but they can be depressing when I do look at them. Thanks for the tips 🙂
I tweet a few times a month. I’m on Google+ every day
LOL. Great post. I just released my first book and now I’m afraid to tweet about it. Don’t want to spam.
I never looked at it in such a way. You are trying to develop followers with Social Media. “Take up your sword and follow me” on Twitter. I better write on the YA before breakfast or I will have nothing to sell, to my cult followers. And they get all the loaves bread and fishes and wine to sustain eternal life, if they can imagine it because of my words.
I see twitter as a huge scam. How does it make money? It’s a bit in the public’s mouth that leads sheep-people to phone text. The phone providers get paid more. Money for nothing. Tweeter is the new social construction chewable cud- and the media wolves said amen.
Best Twitter guide I’ve ever seen. You are absolutely right that engagement is the key to success. 🙂
And some people are just douchebags who follow you just so that you can follow them back. If a person is following and is being followed by more than 2000 people, I tend to not bother following back and more often than not they go away!
Hi Kristen. Again, a great informative article. I am trying to get more social media savvy, so thanks for the tips.
thanks once more for a useful…and fun… article. Thinking of putting a little extra effort into my Twitter (all thanks to you) which frankly has never been one of my favorite things… till now.
I don’t have a huge Twitter presence because I like talking to people and that’s a lot easier to do on my blog than on Twitter. So if I lose followers I don’t know it’s a shrug. If I lose a friend, or a potential friend, then that’s cause for concern. I think we get too caught up with the whole popularity contest aspect of social media. People are important, followers less so, imho. 🙂
I have only been using Twitter for a few months and have built a following of just over 100 followers. Many of them are ‘real’ though…not bots. I interact with real people all the time there and RT interesting things. I do mention my blog there, but try not to do it too regularly. I don’t want to annoy people. I will have to check out TweetDeck or HootSuite…I have only recently heard of them and am a bit naïve as to how that all works!
I will also check out #myWANA on Twitter and your profile too.
Great post Kristen, thank you again.
Hi Kristin! I nominated you for an award. Please don’t feel obligated to accept. I just wanted to spread the word about your site and show my appreciation for what you’ve done for all of us writers/bloggers. It is very much appreicated.
I just started with Twitter a couple of weeks ago. So this post hit the spot with me. I really love the way you word things though, you’ve got real way of wording it, that brings a smile. Good job, Kristen!
Lately, I’ve gotten disillusioned with Twitter because too many people are trying to keep up with the numbers. They post 10 tweets a day, or more, so they can stay visible on Twitter and get more followers. Usually it’s links and RT, and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t see very many conversations because so many people are spamming to be present for the metrics.
Thanks for this. You have reminded me to use hashtags when I tweet. Did start to use them, but keep forgetting.
Reblogged this on Internship Services.
Awe geez, I was in a Twitter haze now it’s just downright foggy. I did learn how to post a tweet but still can barely navigate my account. There must be a “Twitter for Dummies”, right? Despite my ignorance of Twitter I did enjoy this post and gave me more to learn…and I am learning. Thank you.
Those are all very good reasons. I have myself never tweeted nor plan on it. I had an urge once and opened a tweet account, but have never used it. I decided for my sanity I had to pick and choose the social media used in my life, so I limit myself to facebook and pinterest. It’s more than enough.
I have a love hate relationship with twitter. Mostly love though 🙂
Great post, thanks. I so agree about the auto-responses. Sometimes I follow people I really like, but often I’m following someone to see what they’re all about. When I get immediate generic DM’s, it’s a 50/50 shot I unfollow. 100% if the person tries to sell me something right away.
So many things here to take in. I took Bayard’s class at DFWCON about this and kept thinking about how fast I could get home to change a few things.
I have 11 followers, and one is my brother! Granted, I only really started using Twiter two weeks ago.
Thank you for this! I definitely take note of the followers vs. following. Although right now I’m trying to network, so I am following more people than follow me. But I’m not a robot! 🙂
Hello Amanda, I am a starving writer and not a robot. I can relate. I just joined FACEBOOK and I am starting to understand how Social Media like FACEBOOK can develop the writing name. I do not know yet how important it is to find a traditional publishing house, but for self-publishers needing a following of readers for their works, it is very valuable. An editor of the traditional, I am sure have plenty of submits from the best known writers in the world so they probably try to block out the name and they simply read the first page. They might be impressed with credentials from educational to life experiences, but the story still needs to be a good story, which meets their guidelines of success.