Why Every Writer Should Be Active on Twitter

Gillian Sisley

On finding support, active hustlers, and the chance of exponential growth.

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I know, I know. Another person telling you what you should and should not do on social media to promote yourself and build your brand as a writer.

I get it, you’ve heard this narrative a million times before, so what makes me any different in telling you what you should and shouldn’t do?

Well, for one thing, I’m not just another writer telling you what to do on social. My main job is running my social media marketing company, and I’ve worked with many writers just like yourself and given them the same advice that I’m giving you now.

I give this advice, not just because it’s based on statistics or case studies, but because it works. I’m giving you this advice because I’ve used it for myself, I’ve used it for my clients, and it shows to me every day that yes, being active on Twitter as a writer actually matters.

I’ve built my career so far on the premise of not viewing others in the same field as competition.

I firmly believe that there is enough work and success to go around, and one of our greatest assets is supporting one another and working together to collectively grow. This is even more so the case with writers.

The writing industry is hard, competitive, and most of the time it feels like you’re standing in an the middle of an empty field screaming your messages and your story and no one is hearing you. That’s just how diluted the writing industry has become.

But let me get one thing straight: Being a writer is not something that everyone does. It takes a lot of bravery and boldness to claim that label, put it on yourself, and fearlessly move forward in writing.

Writers know that. And writers respect other writers for it.

Which brings me to my first point.

On Twitter, Writers Support Other Writers

I don’t know if you have a Twitter profile already, or if you don’t have an account at all, but the truth of this stands: A massive chunk of the writing community is active on this platform.

If you pop in there, you’ll find hashtags like #amwriting,#writingcommunity, #writerslife, #writingprompt, and the like all over Twitter. If you send out a tweet with one of those hashtags, you’ll see that hundreds and thousands of tweets have been sent out in the last hour with that same hashtag.

Twitter, and the writers that are on that platform, never rest. And that’s the key to why Twitter really stands out for writers.

I have had a diverse amount of clients in every industry you can probably think of. Twitter is where I got my start as a social media marketer, so admittedly it holds a special place in my heart.

But ever since the 2016 election, I can very honestly say, and the data backs this it up, that Twitter has kind of gone down the toilet, and many people left out of protest as a result.

For every client I work with, for anyone who has a company or runs a business (including my own business-specific profile), I have encountered a lot of obstacles and difficulty to grow on Twitter.

But I have two Twitter accounts, I have my business Twitter account and I have my personal Twitter account that I use exclusively as a creative writer. I have been trying to grow my business account for close to four years. My personal, on the other hand, I’ve committed the last year to growing. The difference in my success between both speaks for itself.

Even in the downslope of Twitter activity with just about every industry under the sun, the writing industry on Twitter is still proudly and loudly there. And it is active, it is fierce, and it is growing at exponential rates.

I’ve only seen support, warmth, and positivity, for the most part, while interacting on Twitter. And that says a lot, because I’m active on this very platform that I’m writing this article, and I run a feminist publication that, as you can imagine, attracts a lot of misogyny, sexism, and internet trolls.

But that has not been my experience on Twitter. Writers on Twitter support other writers.

Because, and I will say it again, writers appreciate and respect how much bravery and boldness it takes to write and to publicly share your work. So, if only for the support itself, you need to be on Twitter as a creative writer.

On Twitter, Exponential Growth Is Entirely Possible

Please refer to my screenshots above for a reminder of this.

I’ve been in the social media industry for some time now. I have potential clients come to me all the time saying that they want to grow at incredibly rapid speeds, and most often their goals are very unrealistic. But they come asking me for that none the less.

I give many clients a firm reality check when it comes to social media, especially if they have never had an existing presence before.

“Yeah,” I say, “It’s going to take some time to grow to the size you want.”

“As in a couple of months?”

“No,” I reply. “As in a couple of years, at least.”

A lot of them find that very discouraging. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for your social media presence. I’ve seen slow and sluggish growth on social media with just about every client I can think of, except for social media growth on Twitter with my writer clients. And that includes me.

I started an experiment about a year ago when I was really hunkering down to try and grow my presence as a creative writer. My personal Twitter account by that point didn’t have a very substantial following (maybe a few hundred?), but a published writer who was mentoring me told me that I needed to be growing my social media presence a lot faster than I was doing.

It was funny to hear this because there I am a social media marketer running a social media marketing company with a very low social media following. I was too busy putting all of my energy into my clients.

So, I knew I needed to hunker down and do this if I ever wanted my writing career to go anywhere. With that, I started to focus on growing my Twitter presence. And holy smokes, was I ever surprised by the exponential growth I’d experienced in the last year.

I was dedicated to trying to grow my Twitter presence with the exact philosophy I spoke about above: Writers supporting other writers. I personally write young adult fiction and personal essays. But if you write about sci-fi, if you write romance novels, if you write academic essays, any type of writer, if you are one of them, then I am going to follow you, and I am going to support you.

I started being really intentional about following other writers in hopes that my philosophy of wanting to support them will mean they also want to support me.

With most of my clients, when I talk about the social media rule for marketing, generally you want to be following fewer people than are following you. And the smaller the number of people that you’re following vs. those following you the better.

But this is not the case in the writing community.

If you’re only following 12 people and you have a substantially larger amount of followers, you’re viewed as not supporting other writers in an authentic way. So generally, my followers vs. following numbers are fairly close.

At this point in time, I have just over 7,500 followers on Twitter, which is a decent number, but I’ve seen plenty of writers with larger followings.

But what if I told you that I achieved this number in just one year of dedicating 15 minutes a day to growing my Twitter presence? Do I have your attention now?

On Twitter, the People You Want to Find You Are Active

Are you querying? Are you looking to publish your work? Are you looking for a literary agent? Well, guess what, they’re all on Twitter, and they’re more active than you.

So, when they’re looking for potential writers to work with (spoiler alert: They’re always looking), you know what they’re going to do?

They’re going to want to know what your presence looks like online, including social media. Because gone are the days where writers just write and that’s good enough.

A fantastic writer is great to have, but a fantastic writer with great communication skills, who can speak in front of people, and who can promote their own work is even better. You want to be creating an image for yourself that shows that you are multi-dimensional.

You want to be creating an image that says, “Hey! You can publish my work and my writing is dope, but also if you want to take me on a book tour, I’m going to do really well talking with my readers and engaging with other people to promote my work.”

Because what that means is less work for your publishing company and your agent, and more money in all of your pockets.

Literary and publishing agents are on Twitter, and they’re paying attention to writers on Twitter with the slightest possibility of stumbling across the work of someone they really love. Because if you can get noticed, and they click on your profile, that singular moment of intrigue could be a monumental point in your writing career.

The chances are very slim, I admit that. But I’ve also seen it happen before.

Back when I started my social media marketing company, and I was trying to build my clientele to a point where I made a full-time income, I was very active on social media, just being authentically myself.

I was using Instagram to publish mini-blog posts, not just exclusively on social media, but also the life of being an entrepreneur. I was transparent, I shared the ups and downs, I shared all of the tough events that come with starting a company as a 22-year-old female who just recently graduated.

And a client found me on Instagram.

Someone who lived on the other side of the country, who was just exploring their way through Instagram, came across my work time and time again, decided they liked my writing voice and picked up the phone to give me a call. That singular moment of intrigue from that person would go on to define the future of my career as an entrepreneur as well as the survival of my company.

That person was the Design Director for a large firm in one of the richest cities in my country.

They loved my voice, they thought it fit very well with their clientele-focus brand, and they wanted to bring me on as a social media marketer and main copywriter for the firm. That client remains my largest client to date, three years later. They bring in a bulk of my income, they respect my insights, and they are an absolute joy to work with.

If it weren’t for that singular moment of intrigue, my business may have never gotten off the ground. That singular moment of intrigue that I’m talking about is not very likely to happen.

But what if it does?

What would that mean for your writing career moving forward?

That would mean the absolute difference between you just writing words on your laptop and hoping people hear them, vs. writing pieces that the world appreciates and recognizes.

Find a Word

I know there are many of you who have a love-hate relationship with social media. You can include me as one of those people, as ironic as that sounds.

Social media can be such a dark, awful place to exist in some days. But that said, it also has the possibility to be a beautiful source of inspiration and warmth. I’ve seen a lot of positivity, far outranking the negativity, in the writing community world of Twitter.

I am here to tell you that from my personal experience, the writing community on Twitter is a safe place. It’s a safe place to share your work, to engage with other people, and to motivate one another.

And especially as we’ve started NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), this space is full of writers who are just looking to find inspiration and motivation and offer that to other people. And that, my friends, is an exceptionally powerful space to be in.

So why wouldn’t you want to play a part in that space?

I know you have your doubts, I know you have your resignations. And I get that. One of the things that I always tell my clients is not to put their time and energy into a platform that they really, really despise. Because if they hate it, they’re not going to invest the time necessary to grow there, and also people are going to be able to tell that they hate being there.

It’s important to be authentic in the reasons as to why you’re intentionally existing in a space, and social media is no different. But, if you’re a person who feels that a positive space where you can send out your thoughts and have them well-received and engage with others is a place you want to be, then give Twitter a chance.

Hop on there, give it a month, and actually put the energy into it that it deserves — at least 15 minutes a day.

Use that 15 minutes to follow other writers, to scroll through your Twitter feed, offer some likes and retweets and some motivational, supportive comments to people, and just see what happens.

Because I can promise you, you’re going to be happily surprised by what you encounter when you do.

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