I’m going to admit something right now – for a long time, I found Twitter objectively horrifying. A social media platform that limits posts to 140 characters, reduces your identity to the @ sign, and bases your entire value as a human being on how many followers you have like some kind of Ponzi scheme for your self-esteem seems like anathema to a serious writer. Twitter not only encourages brevity, it requires it. It has its own alien language of hashtags, retweets, and subtweets. In the wrong hands, it can be a vehicle for hatred, harassment and cruelty.
But here’s the thing – Twitter can also be a lot of fun. And, more importantly, it can also be a great way to market your business.
Think about it. With millions of users on Twitter every day, the platform is a free, easy way to network, make business contacts, promote yourself and find clients. The 140 character limit is actually one of the biggest assets of marketing yourself on Twitter – you can send out a quick tweet with an update about your business or a promotion you’re running, and it’s instantly part of the Twitter universe for all of your followers to view. Compare that to more traditional marketing methods such as direct mailings. You need to draft copy, print out mailers, send them, and wait for responses that may or may not come. It’s expensive, time consuming, and you have to wait to see if it’s even effective.
With Twitter, you’ll know almost immediately if your marketing efforts are making an impact. If you get a lot of likes, retweets, or followers, than you’re on the right track. If you don’t, then you need to rethink your tactics. Are you targeting the right people to follow? You should choose followers with the same interests as you – namely, other freelance writers and small business owners. Are you adding hashtags to your tweets? Hastags make your tweets more visible in an online search, which equals more eyes on you and your writing business.
Twitter is also a great way to showcase your personality to potential clients. While you certainly can maintain separate personal and business Twitter accounts, I wouldn’t recommend it for most people trying to launch a freelance writing business. Instead, stick to one Twitter handle and mix your business posts along with content you find interesting – a news article, a retweet from your favorite celebrity, or an interesting observation on a current event. This helps your followers see you as a real person and not just someone blasting tweets all day to try and land a gig. Just make sure to make your personal content useful and relevant – that means no pictures of your food or a recap of how hilarious your mom is after a few glasses of wine.
Once you start to appreciate Twitter for what it is, the sooner you can start making it work for you and your business. Don’t view it as the death knell of the written word; instead, think of it as a fun writing exercise and challenge yourself every day to be interesting and effective in 140 characters or less. Once you start having fun with Twitter, it will become a powerful marketing tool in your arsenal.