How I Decide Which Authors to Follow on Twitter

Ace of HashtagsThere are plenty of articles on how to use twitter effectively and I’m not going to write about that here. Go forth and Google that on your own. What I am here to tell you about is what I look for when I see someone’s tweets, whether directly from that person (via a hashtag I follow) or retweeted from someone else. What is it that makes me decide that I really need to follow this person and add to the endless stream of information that flies past my eyes when I’m not on self-imposed “I’m writing and don’t bother me” radio silence, so to speak?

Honestly, it starts with your twitter bio. Okay, technically it starts with that tweet that makes me take an interest in you and click on your twitter bio in the first place. Once you’ve piqued my interest with that tweet, I ask myself three things.

Can I tell why you’re on twitter or are you just selling something?

When I want to see what you’ll be tweeting about, one of the first things I’ll seek out are the keywords and phrases in your Twitter bio. Those keywords actually tell me “hey, this person’s human and has similar interests to me.” Keywords and phrases help me place you in my world view and convince me, at least in part, that you have something to say that I’ll find worthy of listening to. And maybe even retweeting.

I could care less about your last book and I care only a little bit about your next one. No, seriously. The problem with selling me your book (or trying to) in your twitter bio is that it doesn’t tell me a damn thing about you, the writer, which is what I’m really interested in. Yes, I may eventually be interested in your next or last book, but what I really want to know is more about you. Your writing helps me buy your books, but the other tidbits I connect with you help me love your books more. I want you to use your bio to give me your raison d’être, your reason for being here (your “value proposition” if you’re a marketer or your “mission statement” if you’re more familiar with that business term). If all I see is “I sell books to you” that’s hardly engaging. It makes me want to check my wallet for thievery. I want to know you’re a real person, not a marketing machine.

Are you online somewhere other than Twitter?

If I’m following you on Twitter, it’s typically because you’ve seduced me with simplicity. Yes, I’m going to follow you because you’re an author (published or not) and you’re somehow engaging to me. But I guarantee you that if your only online presence is Twitter I’m not following you. Why? Because I need a direction to go in if I want to personally find out more about your writing or I want to send other people to information about you. If your only social media interactions are on Twitter, I can’t do either of those things.

Dead EndHonestly, I’ll take just about anything by way of another web presence: your author’s website, a Facebook page, a Goodreads page, or, hell, I’m happy if it’s your Amazon bio page. The thing is you have to make it easy for me to find that link. I’m a busy woman. Yes, I might google who you are and send someone that way, but you can radically increase your chances if you don’t make your Twitter account a dead end (and honestly that’s wise advice for any social media venue).

Are you sharing or just regurgitating tweets?

I appreciate when people share information. But what I don’t appreciate is when people retweet or repost things to the exclusion of everything else. A lot of people will argue with me about this. Frankly the Twitter interface isn’t all that friendly when it comes to retweeting any more. It’s easier, yes. Just click and whammo that tweet you like is sent off into the aether for you to share. But what I really want to see is some interaction and frankly I’d like it to be more than just once in a while.

Give, take 'n shareWhen I click on your Twitter bio, most user interfaces allow me to go tweet stalking. I see your bio and typically a handful of tweets you’ve posted recently. I look at the last few days of what you’ve been tweeting because I want to know a little bit more about how you interact with Twitter in general. I want to know you’re a human being with a real life and not just auto-tweeting your horoscope and your Klout score. (Really, Klout? Do you think we believe that metric?) I want to know you’re interacting and engaging with people via @ replies. I want to see even just once that you’ve commented even briefly on why you like a link you’re sharing. You don’t have to be witty (though it’s nice) or even particularly erudite or thoughtful.

But most of all I just want to know you’re human.


What are some things you look for when deciding who to follow on Twitter?


10 thoughts on “How I Decide Which Authors to Follow on Twitter

  1. Pingback: How I Decide Which Authors to Follow on Twitter | Jennelle Holland

  2. Pingback: How I Decide Which Authors to Follow on Twitter...

    • You have to share what you are comfortable sharing! But if anything else, I think any author should follow the “no dead ends” rule of social media unless they’re sticking to one format and one only. Good luck, Sandy. Let us readers and fellow writers know how we can help, ok?

  3. Great post Jennelle! I’m reading this and nodding and saying yes. You totally nailed a lot of my own criterias for who to follow. Someone who has something interesting to say, really interacts and shares with others, and doesn’t spam with promo tweets. I’ve met so many fun and interesting people via Twitter and it’s been a blast getting to meet some on them in person.

    I mostly joined Twitter so I had another venue for interacting with my favorite authors. (To quote Lizzie Bennet, yes I Twitter-stalk! lol)

    • It’s all about the twitter stalking, isn’t it? 🙂 I’ve found in the past that once I’ve engaged an author, I come to understand a book better at times. It also helps me make recommendations to friends a little better when I get where the authors are coming from. I may not like a book but the more I know about an author, the better able I am to recommend that book to a friend or an acquaintance (or even a stranger when it comes right down to it). The less I know, the less likely that recommendation is to happen.

  4. Ditto on all counts. I also like it when an author says they don’t auto-follow but do respond to @’s. Nothing irks me more than authors who don’t even bother to engage with people outside of their circle.

    • Gods, yes, Evangeline. I don’t ever expect an auto-follow and I honestly hope to heavens authors are a bit more choosy in that regard. I don’t auto-follow, so I certainly can’t expect them to, right? But the ultimate sin in my book? Someone who follows me and then immediately DMs me a “won’t you buy my book or check out my site” message. No, no thank you, unfollow.

  5. I was just thinking about Klout the other day…I was like “Oh yeah, Klout, is that still a thing?” The horoscope thing drives me mad. And people who tweet every pin on pinterest (I’d be tweeting in awkwardly huge blocks!) I do have two of my book links in my bio though! Le gasp!

    • I think you do a good job of conveying you in your keywords, Jess. And your tweets back that up. That you have links is not necessarily a bad thing. You have more in there than just “Look how cool it is that I’m an author so go buy my book.” I just care a lot more about the fact that you’re my kind of geek. 🙂

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