Twitter for Writers—Eight Ways to Nuke Your Brand

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commins via Per Gosche

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commins via Per Gosche

I’ve been an advocate of writers using social media since 2004, before social media was really a thang. In the early days of Gather and MySpace it occurred to me that we were seeing a fundamental shift in how humans would 1) be communicating 2) forging relationships and 3) finding/discovering entertainment.

Digital Age Writers? You have…no…idea.

Back in my day *wags cane* we were fighting the Russians and there were NUKES pointed at us for twenty years. We had to get our moms to drive us to a library to research for a paper using the Dewey decimal system. There was no Google. 

If you wanted a popular book and didn’t save enough babysitting money to preorder the next David Eddings book in the Pawn of Prophecy series? In hardback? You waited.

Your turn. Like behind fifty other people.

And hoped the book wasn’t overhyped crap and the last thing you’d read before being nuked.

In my day, you wrote stories in ink by handOr? On THIS thing…which you could use to brain a Russian….before he nuked you.

Thomas' Pics Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Thomas’ Pics Image via Flickr Creative Commons

And you prayed to GOD that your little brother properly screwed on the cap to the whiteout so it wasn’t dried into one glob of white goo. And if you changed your mind where a scene went? TOUGH FRIGGING LUCK. You should have plotted it out better the first time, Smart Guy!


When I was growing up, we didn’t know the author. Writers were proper and respectable and had the basic decency to keep their weirdness hidden from the public eye.


And books? We had to go to a store. A real store with like walls and freaking shelves. And if they didn’t have the next Dragonlance book? Well then cry you whiny little baby. Cry. You had to WAIT and hope you weren’t nuked before they got in the shipment.

I had a friend who skateboarded alone to a B. Dalton’s. Yes, he was nuked.

Okay, I’m finished 😀 .

For now.

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Image via Aaron Flickr Creative Commons.

Okay, Twitter. You writers today are so spoiled but many are just wrecking one of the most powerful ways to build an author brand. Or, to go with today’s goofery? Nuking it.

What’s been strange to see is how in the older days when we were forced to interact face-to-face, interpersonal communication was just natural. Social media is supposed to simply be an extension of that. It is meant to be social and a reflection of how we would interact in person.

As a social media expert, I run into all kinds of strange behavior and tips that make me scratch my head. It’s as if the second we want to create a brand or mention we have a book for sale, we forget everything we know about being human.

Twitter is a great way to build a brand and connect and cultivate future readers, but it is shockingly misused.

Today’s post (obviously) is tongue-and-cheek, but humor can be the best teacher even if we’ve oopsed. Thus, here are eight ways to nuke your brand. Like glass-factory-glow-in-the-dark-grow-500-pound-strawberries-for-the-next-six-hundred-years.

Yes, I am being a drama queen. Too much Aqua Net killed off my brain cells.

So Eight Ways to NUKE your BRAND.

Tip #1—Only Use Automation

Writing a 140 characters is SUPER time-consuming. We aren’t Jack London. Besides, people love robots. I know when I feel lonely, I call AT&T because I know a human being will NEVER answer…EVER. Humans can be so boring and don’t offer us the option of hitting 6 if we want to hear everything they just said all over again. 

Yeah, all my BFFs send me automated messages.

Yeah, all my BFFs send me automated messages.

Real Life Application: Program cell phones to call friends and family at regular intervals to ask for money. They’d dig that.

Tip #2—Make Sure All Preprogrammed Tweets are “Carefully Crafted”

Because when we take time to artfully craft our spam, people don’t mind. They LOVE believing a real person is there only to be fooled. It’s like when that cute guy/gal in high school pretended to want to go out with us. Now we can relive that experience as adults by being duped into thinking we were chatting with a real person who actually cared.

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Real Life Application: At the holidays, volunteer to bring one of those awesome fried turkeys, then show up instead with Tofurkey. They won’t know the difference.

Tip #3—When Programming Tweets Include Popular Hashtags…ALL OF THEM

Who goes to social media to socialize? People LOVE finding a community of real people to talk to and then having it crowded out by the same advertising over and over…and over. Because research shows that it takes at least 20 times to see an annoying face before we want to punch it.

Real Life Application: Some people see a funeral, others see a target audience in need of some cheering up with a NEW BOOK. If potential readers aren’t coming to us, we should go to them. Find where they gather then SELL. So what if it’s against their will?

Tip #4—Make People Prove Who They Are Before Talking to Them

Twitter validation services are awesome. We love meeting someone, only to have to jump through hoops to prove our love. We even get the added advantage of being redirected off Twitter to an outside site where we’re easily hacked. How else will all our friends receive direct messages from porn sites posing as us? Nothing seals an on-line relationship like giving others a social media disease. Who will they think of when they have to spend hours removing viruses and trojans from their computers.

Can we say “Top of Mind”?

Come on! It takes three whole seconds to unfollow a bot. We need those precious three seconds to carefully craft witty preprogrammed tweets. Let the other person do the fifty hoops of leg-work to earn our trust. They have plenty of time.

True Twit. Yeppers.

True Twit. Yeppers.

Real Life Application: Whenever we meet someone and start chatting, if we like them, suddenly stop talking and find a way to casually get samples of their hair for your portable drug testing kit. Hey, gotta be safe these days. Don’t want to just chat with any weirdo.

Throw in a urinalysis to be extra sure ;).

Tip#5—Tweet LOTS of Articles—Ok, ALL Articles

Most of us, when we wake up in the morning, think, “Gee, I wish I had a super long reading list. I sure miss my college syllabus.” Those of us with a corporate job LOVE people who hit Reply ALL so we can read more. Wikipedia is a hot place to hang out. Why not bring that encyclopedic magic to Twitter?

Real Life Application: Make sure to print off a box of articles for that wedding you were invited to. Who wants to dance or flirt when they could be reading about intestinal parasites? Handing people a stack of reading material is way better than getting trapped in a “conversation.”

Tip #6—Ask for Stuff Immediately

Oh, sure! Let me drop everything to buy your book.

Oh, sure! Let me drop everything to buy your book.

The second someone befriends us, it’s our job to send an automated link to their Direct Messages so they can do stuff FOR US. Buy our book, like our FB page, follow our blog, or even answer a really inane question (as if we care about their answer) *rolls eyes*. Hey, great to meet you. Do you like vampires or werewolves?



Real Life Application: If someone is nice to us in the grocery store, make sure to have books to sell and the ability to take credit cards on the spot. Sure, that person is trying to buy a chicken to make for dinner and now she can buy OUR BOOKS, too. Win-win. If we don’t have books for sale, we can ask for life, love or career advice from total strangers, because that isn’t creepy at ALL.

Tip #7—Tweet from Several Accounts/Identities

People on Twitter might miss out on all those “carefully crafted” preprogrammed tweets. Make sure to have anywhere from 2-7 identities sending the same messages. What’s better than spam? MORE SPAM, duh.

Real Life Application: This tactic rocks for singles on the dating scene. Meet a date then several times throughout the conversation, change names and accents. Multiple-personalities are just more people to love.

Tip #8—Never Tweet ANYTHING Original Just Retweet

Again, 140 characters cuts into word count. Save time and retweet what everyone else has to say. Two clicks? DONE.

Real Life Application: Repeat what everyone else says. Don’t you remember how your siblings loved it when you did that to them?

I am not kidding.

I am not kidding.

Why are you repeating everything I say?

Why are you repeating everything I say?

Okay, I am going to tell Mom.

Okay, I am going to tell Mom.

Man, those were good times…until the arm-bar and atomic wedgie.

Okay, Serious Now 

Twitter can be very valuable and a great place to make wonderful friends. Be real and enjoy. People are on social media to be social. We crave connection, fun and escape. If we wanted more ads we’d read the door in the bathroom stall or not bother fast-forwarding through commercials. We don’t need to be profound, deep or immensely witty to do well on Twitter, we just need to be vested, present and authentic ;).

Don’t Get NUKED! A PSA from Kevin Bacon and yes I totally ripped off his idea. Good writers borrow great writers steal 😛


Before we go…

THIS SATURDAY! We can’t sell a book if we cannot articulate in one sentence what that book is ABOUT.

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-Line. Our stories should be simple enough to tell someone what the book is about in ONE sentence. If we can’t do this, often there is a plot problem. Okay, about 99% of the time there is a plot problem. I can tell by a log-line what is right or wrong with a book (HINT: So can agents). Save a ton of money with editors and a lot of time trying to fix the wrong stuff and spring $35 for TWO HOURS of fun with me. Recording of class is included with admission.

This class is great for teaching you how to be master plotters and the first FIFTEEN SIGNUPS get their log-line shredded for free, so you will be agent ready.

I LOVE hearing from you!

If you are old enough, how did YOU suffer? Writers today have NO CLUE! We used to get paper cuts!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of JANUARY, 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. 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.

And yes, I am a complete and total slacker. December’s winner will be announced later because I seriously had three posts go viral. Great problem to have…but tabulating a winner? Gonna take a little time. Love you *air kiss*

Remember to check out the new classes listed at W.A.N.A International.  

Branding for Authors (NEXT SATURDAY). This is your best way to get PAID in the digital age. We have to cultivate that 1000 die hard fans who won’t settle for FREE.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. Ah, but you didn’t say anything about trolling the spokesperson of a political candidate.

  2. The latest is following someone who followed you, someone who presents as a fellow writer, and automatically they send a message thanking you for joining the group they run. Group? As in they’ll teach you everything you need to know about writing. Excuse me, but I didn’t join anything. I ignore them, but it’s the latest escalation in internet hard sell. I’ve run into this several times on Twitter and once on WP. It’s the internet equivalent of making eye contact with the salesperson in the mall who all but tackles you to make a sale.

  3. Reblogged this on Amy Reece and commented:
    I love reblogging Kristen’s stuff! Lot’s to think about here and apply. Twitter can be fairly confusing sometimes and I think I checked off most of the items on the list 🙁

    • Angel Payne on January 28, 2016 at 11:29 am
    • Reply

    One of the best pieces I’ve ever seen on this. *Bowing down* once more, Ms. L. You rock.

  4. I haven’t figured twitter yet, so I’ll watch for this kind of stuff. Going to use twitter right when I figure it out.

  5. This is so true and applies to more than just Twitter.

  6. Hmm.. I just finished a Digital Media Marketing class and I’m getting ready to take my final in my Social Media Marketing class. We’ve hit upon twitter a few times. I admit I do agree with some of the aspects of this article, but not all of them.
    I’m not fond of the IM’s unless it has something to do with Linkedin, I don’t bother with locked accounts. (Like you said more important things to do:)) Hashtags I do use, sparingly because I browse them on Twitter myself. I think retweeting is great. It gets your articles out in front of more eyes. As for as the spam aspect goes (and I hate spam), I’m on the cusp, I’ve come to find that more and more of us in the computer age have ADHD and Twitter streams are long, some people may not see the tweet while some people may. Also, so many people (who may be looking for the information you’ve written) are on Twitter at different times of the day.
    Twitter has been a tough platform for me to figure out.

  7. Hey, I LIKE articles about intestinal parasites….no, really, I do.

  8. I can’t put into words how much I despise automated DMs. I’m forever being directed to “connect” on LinkedIn, like someone on Facebook, or check out their books – and I have no idea who they are. It’s particularly annoying when they follow me first, and I follow back because their main feed looked ok, and then they send crap like that, as if I’m some kind of super fan who’s just added them because I’ve read all of their books. It’s like no, stop abusing DMs and don’t send them to direct me elsewhere!

    1. Exactly! It’s also a good way to get me to unfollow.

      1. I always do!

  9. Oh dear, I”m now wondering if I violate #8 —My blog posts are set up so the link automatically posts on both Twitter and Google+
    Should I stop doing this?
    (My blog is about pet care information and humor. Worse, I am planning to do one on the top 10 parasites that affect pets in a week or so…. A possible #5 violation?!?)

  10. I find auto tweets annoying, and yet, some very successful authors do it constantly. If I write an actual tweet rather than tweeting a link, I rarely get comments. I have a blog, and people tell me they love it, they say it’s funny, they even share it on FB. I can get people to read a post, but they don’t actually sign up for the blog. Any suggestions?

    1. Offer a free ebook to subscribers. Then post good-quality blog entries that are specific to the interests of the people who READ that sort of book (not those who write that sort of book) and spread the blog posts to places that those people frequent. The blog posts should be relevant enough that they really are not spam because they are exactly what people are coming there to find. They read the post, see the button for subscription with the promise of a free ebook. And they do subscribe. At least those who actually want books like that do. And those are the ones that matter.

  11. Maybe it’s just me and I do appreciate being so clearly spelled out, but isn’t this obvious. I never was tempted to do these things on Twitter. Maybe I just came late to the game and everyone was already doing all that and I was annoyed by it, so I didn’t do it. The problem is there is NOTHING else on Twitter that I can find except spam. I’m told there is SOMEWHERE, if you know the super secret hashtags. But then they get invaded by spam and you have to be in the in-crowd so you can move to the next hashtag. Anyway, I’ve never been very good at being in the in-crowd. So, all I get is spam. LOTS of spam. That’s why I essentially don’t do Twitter. I certainly don’t read very many tweets and I don’t know anyway who does. (Okay, I known one erotica author who says he gets interesting things off of Twitter for medical stuff but that’s it.) I assume no one else reads tweets either. Occasionally another author RTs one of my tweets and I RT one of their tweets but there isn’t anyone out there interested in actual books. They are just interested in making good networks with other authors for that elusive idea that we will somehow help each other in our little fishbowl of author spam. Nope.

    Facebook seems clearer to me. I can see how the system works now. You have to actually be “liked” in order to be seen. Therefore, if you post good stuff, you will actually be seen and then you can sometimes ask for what you need. Interesting how that tidbit is never in the “social media expert” blogs. I had to figure that bit of algorithm out on my own. Sharing it because I actually do care about other serious authors. We are not the competition. The void of chaos and spam is the competition. Serious writers are my friends

  12. I agree on all points. Automated DMs are probably the worst. I never want to get hit by a generic “Hi, check out everything I’m selling” message or even a generic “Thanks for following”. Out of all the DMs I’ve received, I think only one was an actual, personalized message that even led to a short conversation. Those are fine but it’s too bad so few people do it.

  13. Awesomeness. “Because research shows that it takes at least 20 times to see an annoying face before we want to punch it.” I’m still figuring out how to best use Twitter. But I know that the auto DMs bug me.

  14. Reminds me of my first day on Twitter. Some organization retweeted one of my first Tweets, and so I checked it out, and followed them. Bam! Direct message, Twit Validation. I unfollowed. Don’t know why people don’t notice this really should fit in the Golden Rule area. If you would hate having it done to you, bad idea to do it to others.

  15. Love your humor, love your message, enjoy reading your stuff. I still don’t “get” twitter but I’m trying.

  16. I don’t always want twitter or google to star everything I write.

  17. 99% of authors on Twitter would be better off posting random pictures of their food and pets, for all the reasons Kristen summed up in this post. 😈

    1. Oh, and I can stand on my IBM Selectric II, and all 250 lbs. of me won’t even dent that thing. “Brain a Russian” is an understatement…. 😉

  18. I truly enjoy your star-casm. Oops, I mean sarcasm. But you really do shine ; ). It’s one thing to be informed, another all together to be entertained and informed. You pull it off so well.

  19. Reblogged this on Cindy M. Jones and commented:
    Kristen’s no lamb when it comes to hard truths. Do you tweet or are you a twit?

  20. I want to tweet this article. A lot. Will that make me a bad person? And is there any way I can set Twitter up to auto-tweet this to anyone who DMs me to thank me for following them, or anyone who uses one of those stupid validation services?

  21. Interesting.

  22. I love this. Putting the humor in makes us realize how stupid some of these things are.
    In addition, I now feel completely validated for ignoring all those True Twit messages. I hate those!

  23. I’ve only just started a blog to bring my ink and paper creations to a wider audience… And I’m 26! This post made me laugh. Hopefully I won’t fall into the traps of this internet thing.

  24. I love the humour you’ve injected into this. This is all so true, especially automation, I just love that personal touch of someone DMing you an auto message after you follow them. The other thing I love is the accounts that promise to give you 100K followers, like yeah.. really?!?

  25. Reblogged this on Mona Karel Author and commented:
    This blog has a lot to offer, even if you weren’t around during that Cold War. I was, and I wondered how my desk would protect me from that nuke.
    Besides…Kevin Bacon? Well, yeah

  26. Reblogged this on Nancy Segovia and commented:
    Great blog, very helpful and fun!

  27. Great blog, funny and informative, but could you please explain to this old lady exactly what hashtags are and what they do. I see them everywhere, but I am completely clueless about them.

    #smiles, Nancy

    1. A hashtag is a search filter to connect people who all want to talk about the same things. So, say you LOVE the show #WalkingDead. If you used that hashtag, you could connect with countless other people who like and are talking about #WalkingDead. I will blog more on this, but this is really useful for cultivating a fan base for books. Say you write thrillers. Military people generally like reading thrillers, so it’s a good idea to follow the #Army, #Navy, #Marines and talk to people and make friends. Military folks are all using those hashtags to chat and connect. It’s how you find people of similar interests on Twitter. So maybe it’s #science or #history or #fitness.

  28. Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog.

  29. So spot on. I’m rather new to Twitter, and indeed made the mistake of following this and that author. While some of them are okay, others post so much meaningless spam advertising that it’s making my eyes cross; all riddled with #@#@#@. I usually like to skim through the Twitter feed for interesting quotes and words of wisdom that make my day. I’m that kind of girl, I like philosophy and psych. Heck, I’m a profiler. But that is a task as hard as filtering gold from the water flowing in a river. Before getting to those, I’m bombed by five authors who will take up the entire feed with book promotions. Every 20 minutes. It’s a jungle… If I unfollow those, five more will take their place.

  30. I recently returned to my Twitter account after kind of forgetting about it’s existence for years (not kidding) simply to help build my brand. I can honestly say that none of the above would have occurred to me. Kind of surprised to hear there are writers who think spamming potential readers is a good thing…

  31. Reblogged this on Flynn Gray and commented:
    A great article for any writer on using Twitter, and how not to alienate your followers. I must admit I have been guilty of #5 in the past – I will now be cutting down on the number of articles I share instead of bombarding my followers with a reading list 🙂 ~ Flynn

  32. Hilarity in truth, I say! I enjoy being a human, who can interact with other humans, which is why I’m on SOCIAL media- because, let’s face it- my writing cave doesn’t host a lot of ragers or book signings. Ironically, I’m going to retweet this. I follow maybe 50 people, and quite a few are in the midst of a mushroom cloud.

  33. I enjoy interacting with “real” twitter folks who write their own tweets, or at least put some creative effort into what they are retweeting. Unfortunately, 3 out of 5 new tweet followers are tweet bots (easily detected with ginormous stats, like “58K followers”, etc). I especially dislike the “buy my book” tweets spammed every four hours, like authors wearing fedoras. Money badly spent, I’m sure. Needless to say, I don’t follow back. Thanks Kristin. Hope some of the spam bot users get the message.

  34. Great article. I’ll admit it – I do an automated DM. But I back it up with actually conversating, asking questions, etc. I’m a med student – not like I’m on twitter all day to welcome everyone!

    However, I do not understand what the heck that Twitter Validation is. No, I’m not going to click some weird link to prove I’m a real person. Rather, I’m going to think it’s like a virus and probably unfollow you. *Rolls eyes*.

    • Jean Lamb on May 7, 2016 at 11:44 pm
    • Reply

    I just had to say something about that typewriter–you should have seen the ancient manual Olympia from Hell I learned on in high school (lo these many decades ago). The bomber you showed us was the one I took brush up typing on in the 1980’s (mmm….Prestige Elite….). And I once changed the printer ball on a Star Micronics 9-pin printer in the early 90’s because it was cheaper than having someone do it (and the manual had *pictures* to show me how). Oh, yes, and removing the popcorn and occasional pencil from inside the printer (I had two small children).

    Honestly, I don’t do Twitter and I hardly do Facebook (except for posting in the comments section of MSN, Because Politics. See I had to keep quiet about them at work because my employer was Tres Conservative and I really liked my job, but now I’m retired from the day job and can make fun of Trump supporters…).

    Ahem. But here I am, with any luck adding more Digital Value.

  35. This was hilarious! I remember the days when we couldn’t even bike ride to Blockbuster without getting nuked. Gnarly article, dude!

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