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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Nina Pierce

140 Characters of Pure Marketing Power

What the heck kind of marketing could be done in 140 characters and less than twenty minutes a week? One word—Twitter.

One word that has totally sucked me in. I will admit—I’m in love. Addicted. Totally enamored of this social meda tool that is creeping up on Facebook and MySpace, putting the estimated number of unique monthly visitors at between 6 and 8 million. (Wikipedia)

Twitter is the brainchild of Jack Dorsey who posted his first tweet on March 21, 2006.

I didn’t make the leap until the beginning of this year. Now, I open it before my email, before my blog, before my writing. Which is baaaad very bad and I know this. I’m like a kid with a new toy, unable to put it down.

So what exactly is twitter? It’s an opportunity to follow and share with people snippets of thoughts or activities in 140 characters or less. Like any social media, when you open a profile at you are given options to customize your page. In the upper right corner of your home page there is a “setting” button. Here you can fill in a profile including a one line bio. On this page you can add an avatar and customize your background.

Once you have your profile ready, you are now free to roam the twitterverse. Being alone is a bad thing. In order for Twitter to work as a marketing tool you must venture out and search for people to follow. Follow? Why would you want to follow people? Twitter is about connections. The updates of those that you choose to follow will display on your home page. Your updates will display on the home page of your followers.

I would suggest using the “search” function in the center of your home page to find people who interest you. When the search screen appears you can type in keywords like “author” “editor” or in my case “multiple sclerosis”. A list of tweeters pops up and if you click on their picture it will take you to their home page where you can read their profile and check out their recent tweets. If you want to follow them, simply click the “follow” button below their picture. Easy-peasy.

Soon, others will begin following you. Once you have followers you should try to post an update a couple of times a week. To increase your readership, I would suggest popping on twitter at least once a day and spending a few minutes updating and replying.

Why reply to others' tweets? Because this isn’t all about you. Move your mouse to the right of any post and a star and arrow appear. When you click on the arrow, the @NAME appears in your update box. Simply type your response to their post and hit update. You’ve started a give and take conversation--very similar to instant messaging. On the right hand side of your home page you’ll see an @YourNAME tab. Click on that tab and it will display all messages from people who replied to your posts.

Under that you will see a “Direct Message” tab. When you click on this you will see a box where you can send a message to ONE person directly. Direct messages will not display on your home page. It’s like sending a personal email.

There are some advanced techniques like hashtags (#). Anything with a hashtag can be searched so you can follow a complete discussion without having to follow all the people. For instance, people who twittered about the Romantic Times convention in Florida used #RT09. If I wanted to know what was happening I could type “#RT09” in my search function and it would take me to a page with all the twitter posts listed under that heading. Every Friday there is #followfriday. This is awesome if you’re looking for recommendations for people to follow.

When you see “RT” before someone’s post that translates to “ReTweet”. Meaning someone found this post interesting and reposted it for others who may not be following the original poster so others can see the post. It is good twitter etiquette to include both the original poster and the retweeter if you use this function.

So why do I do this? First and foremost … I LOVE IT! Ask my homegirls at my local writing chapter. I sing the praises of Twitter all the time. I’m following a little over 800 people and nearly 700 are following me. It’s advantageous to keep your follow and followERs pretty close so you don’t look like a spammer. Yes, like everywhere on the Internet, they’ve invaded Twitter.

And you’ll know them. You’ll get a notice that someone with 1,679 follows and 18 followers and 2 posts has chosen to follow you. They’re spammers. Why? I have no idea. (But I don’t understand why someone named v$CKy emails me every other day to offer me products to increase the size of a penis I obviously don’t have. Anyway …)

Celebrities are jumping on the twitter wagon. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and Larry King of CNN (@CNN) had a race to 1 million followers. Ashton topped the mark first. Morning show celebrities Ellen Degeneres (@TheEllenShow), Al Roker (@AlRoker) and Elizabeth Hasselbeck (@EHasselbeck) are tweeting. And more recently Oprah (@Oprah) began tweeting with tens of thousands of people following her before she even posted her first update.

Purists believe this kind of exposure will crumble the original purpose of the twittersphere. Since I too jumped in without having any expectations, I’m not sure if they will change the flavor of twitter. I guess that remains to be seen.

All I know is that it’s a very powerful tool. I have met other writers and editors and enjoy the information people have shared. I try to be entertaining and hope it will be enough to pique people’s curiosity and perhaps they’ll check out my books. I know I have found new readers of my blog and one reader specifically bought a book because I was chatting about it on Twitter. Remember, like any social media, it is important to do more than market your books on Twitter. That’s boring. Readers want to know about you, care about you and if your posted tweets are only about your books then they don’t get the added dimensions of your personality. Reply to others. Chat with them. Again … twitter is NOT all about you.

All I can say, it’s like other kinds of marketing. Try it on. See how it fits. If it feels good, work with it. All I know is that I’m having fun hanging out over there and hope to see you there!

You can find Nina Pierce hanging out and chatting with anyone who will listen on twitter at She is rambling about her experiences as a writer and marketing her newest releases. Visit her on the web at


Cathy M said...

What a great tutorial, Nina. I haven't gotten into the Twitter world yet. Heard that it is pretty addictive, and a wonderful time suck, lol. I figure if I get any extra minutes during my day, I would rather be spending it between the pages of a great book.

Nina Pierce said...

It can be such a time suck. Sometimes I go over there just to post one little thing and end up "chatting" for a half an hour or more. But I do enjoy it!

Kytaira said...

Great tutorial but i'm already overwhelmed with yahoo groups and blogs. I've decided to not even get addictied to Twitter

Nina Pierce said...

Kytaira - Addicted is the right term! I just can't stay away. It may all be for the best. ;)

Vanessa said...

Thanks for really explaining Twitter. I have been trying to get someone to explain it to me for quite a while and you've done it beautifully.