How to Use Twitter to Promote Your New Book (or Other Product)

Twitter can be a fantastic tool for promoting your book. But I see very, very few authors and publishers doing this well. They post some random tweets with no singular call to action and then wonder why their return on investment was so low.

Twitter promotion example

Instead, Twitter can be a key marketing tool for driving sales and the bestseller lists. I have participated in both. BUT this only works if you take Twitter into account early enough in the product design and marketing process.

Here are nine ways to insure that you get the full benefit of Twitter for your marketing campaign:

  1. Make sure the book’s title is short enough to tweet. One word titles are perfect (e.g., StandOut, Unbroken, Rework). Short phrases can also work (e.g., House Rules, Confidence Men, Do the Work). Long titles make it tough (e.g., Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There or, my personal favorite, All You Can Do Is All You Can Do But All You Can Do Is Enough!)
  2. Use a hashtag so you can collect the buzz. A “hashtag” is used to mark keyword or topics within tweets. It was created organically by Twitter users to categorize messages. Messages with the same hashtag show up together in Twitter search. If you click on a hashtag, you will see all other messages with that hashtag. It is best if you can use a word in the book title or a shortened form of the title.
  3. Make sure the author’s twitter username is relatively short. If it goes beyond 12–13 characters, consider using the first initial or two plus the last name (e.g., @MWBuckingham). The goal is to allow as much room as possible for the actual tweet.
  4. Decide on a landing page. Where do you want to direct your followers for more information? It could be a custom website for the book (e.g., EntreLeadership), a product page on your main website (e.g., Nancy Duarte) or a the product page on an e-tail site like Amazon.
  5. Use a URL shortener. I use bit.ly, but I have mapped a custom domain to it, so I get the value of branding. Mine is mhyatt.us. This enables me to turn something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Real-Little-Astounding-Story/dp/0849946158/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316621485&sr=8-1

    into this:

    http://mhyatt.us/qnplTs

    Try it. Both links get you to the same place, but one is dramatically shorter.

  6. Determine how long your tweet can be. Everything up to this point is essentially metadata. It is not going to get anyone to click on the link or retweet the message. For that, you need an actual tweet. But how long can it be? To figure this out, deduct the length of the title, author name, hashtag, and landing page from 140 (the maximum length of a tweet).

    For example, let’s say I was creating a tweet for Andy Andrews newest book, The Final Summit. I might have the following metadata. Note that I converted the title to a hashtag:

    • Title: #FinalSummit (12 characters)
    • Author: @AndyAndrews (12 characters)
    • Landing Page: http://mhyatt.us/i6wQmo (23 characters)

    If you total this, plus add three characters for spaces, you get 50. Now subtract this from 140. This gives you 90 characters for your actual message. But wait. You should also allow room for retweeting (e.g., “RT @MichaelHyatt”). In my case, that is an additional 17 characters, including the space. This means my message can only be 73 characters.

    This doesn’t sound like much room—and it’s not—but you can make it work. Stay with me.

  7. Identify a series of “tweetable” quotes from the book. As you are writing the book, try to come up with short, pithy statements that can be used as tweets. They should be insightful, provocative, or intriguing. And, in the case of Andy’s book (the example above), they can’t be more than 73 characters long.

    Here are some examples from The Final Summit:

    • “A dazzling gem cannot be polished without great friction.”
    • “A beautiful flower cannot be created without fertilizer.”
    • “Do not squander time, for that is the stuff of which life is made.”
    • “The winds of adversity fill the sails of accomplishment.”
    • “Nothing shows a person’s character more than his habits.”

    Shoot for 20–30 of these for each book.

  8. Put each tweet together, using the actual message. I do this in a plain text editor like TextEdit on Mac or NotePad on Windows. Now you can copy and paste these into Twitter or automate the whole process. (More about that in a minute.) You can also make these tweets available to your brand evangelists on a special promotional page you have created for your fans in helping to get the word out.
  9. Automate the delivery of your tweets. Caution: don’t flood your followers with these messages or they will start to think of you as a spammer. I would post no more than one tweet a day—at the most two. See my post, “The 20–to-1 Rule” for the reason why.

    Having said that, you can subscribe to a service like SocialOomph, load your entire text file, and then schedule your tweets to appear 24 hours apart at a specific time of day. (You can also use HootSuite, but the options are more limited.)

Here is an example of a promotional tweet for a new book that includes all the elements I have described:

Twitter Promotion Example

Yes, you can use Twitter as an integral part of your marketing campaign. The secret is to weave it in early, before either the product or the marketing plan is set in stone.

Question: How else have you seen Twitter used to promote books or other products successfully? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Neo Mabiletsa

    This is the most awesomest thing I have ever read… *excited*

  • http://twitter.com/jstputtnaround Linda Goza

    The # Mission: No More, by “Linda Quintal Goza”, listed on Amazon & Internet. Comedy Drama Rated G “Movie” Novel. I am a recent author; 75% of royalties I recv. from Pub. Co. will go to The Economy Fund, 25% to personal, which will also go to good. Trying to get it out there, subtly.

  • Markus

    I just finished clipping this post in Evernote.

    This is perfect timing for me: I will do this for my new ebook called “Initiate” coming out this fall and let you know how it works! By the way plagiarism checker is a great tool for educators.

  • Kristin B.

    Yes, thank you for the info! I’ve been experimenting with posts, and its been interesting to see the results.

  • http://www.clickbitz.com/ Marc Murphy

    These are great technical tips on how to Tweet! It’s also important to think hard about what value your tweets have and whether they are going to actually convince anyone to check out your book and buy it. Many authors just write something like:

    “She never realized how good squirrels tasted.” I got a 5-star review. Please buy my book. PLEASE!

    Then they tweet that all day.

    I wrote a post about how not to promote a book on Twitter:

    http://www.clickbitz.com/blog/how-not-to-promote-a-book-on-twitter/

    which leads to another post on how to do Twitter right… strategy and all. Happy Tweeting!