Anatomy of an Effective Tweet

Twitter is a great way to promote ebooks online through social media. Knowing a few simple Twitter tips can make your tweets much more powerful. An effective tweet has three distinct parts that should follow in this order: message, call to action, #hashtags. @Tags are another element but their placement varies depending on who you’re tagging.

How to Write an Good Tweet for Twitter

Message: If you’re goal is simply to engage people on Twitter, this might be your entire tweet. Be funny, informative, insightful, or dramatic. Questions are a good way to engage others, just be sure you check back and respond to any replies. I’m on HootSuite, so when I respond, I actual hit “retweet” then “edit” so I can include some of their tweet with my response.

If your goal is to promote your ebook through social media, your message still comes first and should contain very few — if any — hashtags. A frequent mistake I see is for people to turn half the words in their message into hashtags. Doing that reduces the tweet’s effectiveness. When people scan down a stream of tweets, they generally read only the black text, not the blue. So even if you’re message contains words that would make good hashtags, resist the urge to put the # in front of too many words in the message portion of your tweet.

Call to Action: If the goal of your tweet is to drive traffic to a blog post, Facebook Page, or straight to a point-of-purchase site, like Amazon, put the tiny URL in the middle. (I use to shorten my URLs, so I can track the stats.) A common mistake I see is for people to put the link at the very end, especially on a tweet that uses every character allowed. That’s a mistake because every time someone retweets, it adds their user name to the front and bumps some of the characters at the end so your link is lost.

How to Use Twitter Hashtags

Hashtags should come after the shortened link. (What is a hashtag?) There are two kinds of hashtags. Some have a community of regular followers. These include #amwriting, #amreading, #writetip, and so on. Something I see frequently, though, is people using hashtags  like keywords to help people who are searching Twitter for something specific, like a contemporary romance ebook that’s on sale or free. I don’t think it’s that helpful. Instead, I think it just takes up characters. I’ve experimented with doing searches on Twitter, via HootSuite, for “#contemporary #romance” and “contemporary romance” and get the same result. While I do think hashtags like #amwriting have a following, I doubt #contemporary has a dedicated following. As for #romance? That could apply to dating as much as romance novels. After a brief experiment, I’m especially not fond of the hashtag #free to promote free ebooks because I’ve pulled up that stream, and it’s everything under the sun.

Expand Your Social Media Reach with Hashtags

When thinking of hashtags on Twitter expand your horizons, and look for subjects with a following that might not be about reading or writing, but ones that will help you interact with people who simply share your interests. TV shows are especially good for this.

If you happen to write vampire novels, a #buffy hashtag might work well. If you write novels about lawyers or doctors, you can use hashtags for shows about those professions. Tweeting with a TV show hashtag while the show is on can amplify your interaction with people who share that interest.

But don’t stop at just TV shows. Another approach is locations where your story is set, or hobbies that you or your characters enjoy, like cooking or knitting.

In addition to hashtags, you can also use @tags on Twitter.

What is a Tag on Twitter?

A tag is when you include a @UserName in your tweet. When you do that, your tweet will be visible to that person. This may be to promote that user to your followers, or with the hope that they reply or retweet, which will push your tweet to all of their followers, or simply to let them know you tweeted about them. To me, these are an exception to the rule about not having blue text within the message, because tagging someone is personal. If, however, your tweet isn’t about that user, but you’re simply hoping they retweet, put the tag at end.

Example One: Just read a great mystery, Book Title by @AnnieAuthor and loved it! tiny.url #amreading. (Hopefully Annie Author will retweet it with a “Thank You!” in front, which just made my username visible to all of her followers and might help me pick up more followers.)

Example Two: My new contemporary romance, Book Title, is ON SALE for 99¢ at Amazon tiny.url and B&N tiny.url #amreading @BookPromoSite (Hopefully BookPromoSite will retweet.)

Tip for Author: When you email your friends asking them to help you promote a sale or new release, be sure you include your @UserName in the text you send them.

Example of what you’d email a friend: Please tweet “Book Title, a new contemporary romance by @YourName is ON SALE for 99¢ at Amazon tiny.url and B&N tiny.url” (You can include the hashtags of your choice, or let them add the ones they like. Just be sure you leave room.)

So, that’s it. Hope these tips help you get more use, and enjoyment, out of Twitter.


What tips have you discovered for Twitter?


  1. Lauren Royal says:

    This was very helpful, Julie–thank you! You make a lot of sense. Guess I’ll stop using the #free hashtag for my Friday Freebies. :-)

  2. Tremendously useful, Julie, many thanks! You’ve cleared up what is a mystery to me: how Twitter can be useful. Until I read you here, I always had the impression it was good to connect with like-minded souls but very poor for book promotion…

  3. Awesome post, Julie. I saw a lot of my newbie mistakes in it. Thanks for the tips.

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