Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Truth About Twitter ~ by Patricia Beal

Do you want to make your Twitter presence bigger and better? If so, read on. I’ll tell you how.

I gained more than 6,000 Twitter followers last year and continue to grow fast. I don’t think that’s spectacular because I know I could do much better if I were to invest more time, but publishers were impressed. I just signed my first publishing contract on Feb. 4. Hurray! My debut novel, A Season to Dance, comes out in May of 2017 (Bling! Romance / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).

Earlier this year, A Season to Dance had made it to the acquisitions team of a major publishing house. The project was rejected there because the story was not an ideal fit, but marketing was very impressed. One of their interns asked me to write a post about the journey and about platform building for pre-published authors for her personal blog (LivingLitUp). This post about Twitter grew from that post.

Twitter is easy

Twitter is easy—once you realize you need to follow back, follow aggressively, and unfollow aggressively.

A slow start

I had a very slow start on Twitter because I didn’t follow anyone back, and I only followed my writer friends, agents, and publishers. When people unfollowed me, I was terribly crushed. I would go over my content trying to figure out what I’d done to turn them off.

Light-bulb moment

Then an author whose account was growing fast told me the truth: Most people follow to be followed back.

Light-bulb moment: People were not unfollowing me because of my content. They were unfollowing me because I wasn’t following them back.

So guess what I do when someone follows me? I follow them back. If I don’t, they’ll unfollow me in a heartbeat. Now I know.

For faster growth

For faster growth, follow first and do it aggressively. I go to the Twitter page of an author who writes what I write and follow everyone who follows them. Many will follow back within three days.


After about three days, I go to and get a free list of who’s not following me back. I unfollow each and every one of them. I can unfollow one hundred people per day for free, or pay for the capability to unfollow more. I can also unfollow manually directly on Twitter without limitations, but it’s time consuming.

Unfollowing those who don’t follow back is essential. If I don’t, then new people I follow see that I’m not unfollowing and feel no need to follow me back.


Then I do it all over again. Pick another author. Follow their followers. Unfollow the ones who didn’t follow back, etc. I can grow as fast as I want by doing this.

Seems like a meaningless numbers game?

If I stop there, it is.

Here’s how I make it meaningful:

I strive to tweet high-quality content, tailored to benefit my followers. Then guess what happens? People notice me, place me in curated lists, and retweet me. Score! 

I’m still small enough that I can thank people for all retweets and most likes and mentions. That encourages them to continue to retweet me. It also encourages their followers to follow me and retweet me.


Let me add a note about Hootsuite: I like it. It works. But I stopped using it for now. I have too much fun showing up and searching for the most awesome stories for readers and writers, interacting with my tweeps, etc. But when life is out of hand and there aren’t enough hours in the day, Hootsuite.


Tweet three times a day (author friends with publicists say so). You may take weekends off (expert Edie Melson says so), but I don’t take weekends off. I slow down, but I still tweet. Different birds show up on weekends. I want to reach them all. There’s also a different and more relaxed vibe on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s fun.

Should I follow back users with questionable content?

I understand the concern and think that’s an individual decision. For me, there are only three kinds of users I don’t follow back: people selling followers, people who worship the devil, and naked people. Other than that, they are all users I’m comfortable reaching for Christ.


I’ve never had to spend a penny on Twitter. Facebook is a different story all together. I’ll talk about that next time.

I hope this post was useful and that you feel empowered to grow your Twitter account. If you already knew all this, tell me what you know and do: Do you use something other than Hootsuite to schedule tweets? Do you use something other than ManageFlitter to manage your Twitter account? Do you have different ideas for Twitter growth? Have you invested money on Twitter growth and/or ads? Did you like the results?

Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. 

She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. 

She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.

Patricia is very active online and loves to connect with readers.

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  1. Hi Patricia. Wow! This was like getting a look behind the magic curtain! I've pretty abysmal at Twitter (it's the 140 character thing!) and have been stuck in a rut for awhile now. Thanks for all the handy hints. I'm off to follow all my followers!

    1. If you spend a little time there, you'll find your 140-character style and end up enjoying your time on Twitter. I love YA author Sara Ella's tweets (@SaraEllaWrites). Her tweets are so quirky and funny. She has managed to stay interesting as her debut launch date approaches. A lot of authors tweet only book promo, and they have a faithful following, but it doesn't do it for me. You could probably do a ton of fun things with Tolkien and C.S. Lewis materials... I hope you fall in love with Twitter :)

  2. Great advice I'm going to tweet this right now :)

    1. Thanks, Eva! I just followed you there :)

  3. Patricia, fascinating post! I'm probably too fussy regarding who I follow back because I read my real-time list of tweets from all the people I follow rather than breaking it down into specific lists. Twitter has grown on me over time, and I'm going to look into the techniques you've mentioned. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us :)

    1. I'm glad this post was helpful. Definitely create a list (or lists) of people you will really pay attention to, before following hundreds of new people. I have one for authors, one for publishers, one for book PR people, one for pastors/Christian speakers, one for ballet people, one for autism, and my favorite: craft ninjas (where I often get my tweet/retweet ideas). Some people appear in more than one list. Then from time to time you can browse your real-time feed to discover new people to add to your lists ;)

  4. Hi Patricia
    Great post. I agree on the follow-back. It's part of the ethos of Twitter though I also don't follow-back people selling followers, accounts with naked people & accounts that spam product ads. Following followers of accounts with the same readership of your own is a great way to go. Another is to follow people mentioned in retweets or FollowFriday, WritersWednesday - or at specific hashtags which relate to your interests.

    One thing I've found useful is 'lists' as a way of sorting followers and seeing the content I want to see.

    1. Hi Jeanette! Thanks for the follow, likes, and retweet. I already followed you back :) I need to try hashtag follow. That's good. I hadn't thought of that. I do like FollowFriday and WritersWednesday, but I'm not sure I'm doing it right. I follow everyone who gets mentioned with me, but am I then supposed to do something else, like reply with the names of people I know, so they can be followed, too? I don't know. You're right about lists. They're great!

  5. Great article! I agree on the follow back principle - although I have one other category of people I don't follow back: people who don't tweet in English (as English is the only language I speak!).

    I use the free version of CrowdFire to follow and unfollow, and it's good enough for me. I've looked at ManageFlitter and it does seem to have more functionality.

    I find content mostly from the blogs I follow via Feedly, and schedule them using Buffer (a tool I find easier to use than Hootsuite, although I know lots of people rave about Hootsuite).

    I'm also experimenting with TweetJukebox for recurring tweets (and debating whether to sign up to their paid package before they migrate to being SocialJukebox and double their prices!).

    And thanks for the link to the post on your writing journey - that's great!

    1. Hi Iola! I need to look into Buffer. I like Hootsuite, but I don't love it. So TweetJukebox will be SocialJukebox? Interesting.

      Glad you enjoyed the link to my post on Sara's blog. I'm hoping to have her guest here on April 27 to tell us about what it's like to be an intern at a Big Five publishing house. She's an aspiring author, too, and I'm interested in hearing what lessons she's walking away with. Her internship is about to end.

      I've been enjoying your website blog posts on the Australasian Christian Writers Blog! :)

  6. This is great stuff. But I am so ignorant about Twitter, what sort of things do you find are the best to share? I see lots of quotes. And I totally don't understand retweeting or liking or tagging or... yep, pretty much everything. Do you know of any Twitter blog posts that explain what Twitter is and how it works? Any suggestions for content besides quotes? Twitter is such a mystery to me.