What’s the Point of Using Twitter?

“I just don’t get Twitter.” I have heard that baffled statement and cry of frustration so many times in recent weeks, I feel like there’s a cosmic echo. Most recently, I heard it from my good friend, Barbara Calderaro, who’s a fabulous singer here in Austin. (Barb and the Dave Cummings Band are the ones who made the CD soundtrack to my romance novel, Unforgettable.)

While we were enjoying wine at Artisan Bistro, she kept saying, “I don’t understand the point. I feel like I’m eavesdropping on other people’s conversations, and none of it makes sense. Am I supposed to just be chatting with people I know?”

I kept trying to tell her the answer is yes and no. Yes, you certainly can use Twitter purely for socializing, but no, that’s not the point. At least, it shouldn’t be the point for her. As a singer, she should be using Twitter to help her get the word out about when and where the band will be playing and bring more people to their gigs. Barb argued that she sends e-mails to her list of local fans, so why does she need Twitter.

Well, here’s why. AUTHORS: you can apply everything I’m about to cover when promoting your Websites, blogs, contests, booksignings, and more.

Why E-Mail isn’t Enough

E-mail and e-newsletters go to a finite list of loyal fans. So, yes, absolutely, you need to keep sending those e-mail invitations. But the point of Twitter is to cast a much bigger net and get the word out to people who have never heard of you.

How Twitter Works

When you post a tweet, it goes only to the people who are following you. If, however, your followers “retweet” (RT) or “reply,” it goes to all of their followers as well. Both these actions help you build followers. So, your goal is threefold: notify your followers about an event, get more exposure through RTs and replies, and gain more followers.

Three Ways to Strengthen Your Tweets

1) End your tweet with “RT please!” This is asking your followers to retweet it.

2) Include a link to something that will give people more information. (Hint: to shorten long URLs, I use bit.ly and love it. You can track how many people click on the link and how many people repost it on Twitter.)

3) Use #hashtags if any apply. (Learn how to use #hashtags here.)

Pick Your Time and Repeat Your Tweets

Twitter moves really fast. If you’re followers are following a lot of people, your tweet will be buried far down the list within minutes. So, pick a time of day when your followers are most likely to be on Twitter. Friday afternoon is the peak time when Twitter gets the most action, but get to know your own group and adjust accordingly. Through sites like HootSuite.com you can schedule when your tweets appear. (Learn why I love HootSuite.) This lets you write your tweets whenever you want, but have them post during high traffic times. You can have one tweet appear multiple times, varying the time of day and day of the week to increase the number of followers who see it.

Example of a Successful Tweet Campaign

Okay, now that you have all the “how tos,” here’s how it can work. This will be purely hypothetical, and none of these links work, but let’s say my friend posts a tweet that looks like this:

@BarbCalderaro will sing @ArtisanBistro Fri 7pm http://bit.ly/1234 RT please! #austin #livemusic

Why all the symbols? The @ symbols would create links to the Twitter profiles for the band and the venue. The bit.ly URL would link to more information. The #hashtags at the end make the tweet show up to anyone around the world following those topics.

So, let’s say Barb’s list of followers sees the tweet, and one of them named “BarbFan” replies with:

@BarbFan, I’ll be there! @BarbCalderaro will sing @ArtisanBistro Fri 7pm http://bit.ly/1234 RT please! #austin #livemusic

That goes to all of BarbFan’s followers. And one of them might respond with:

@BFfriend me too. Anyone else? @BarbFan, I’ll be there! @BarbCalderaro will sing @ArtisanBistro Fri 7pm http://bit.ly/1234

Notice that the #hashtags fell off. That’s because you’re only allowed 140 characters per tweet. As more people reply and retweet, the end will get cut. That’s why I always end with the information that’s least important, and also why I kept the original tweet under 140 character.

As this tweet trail builds and grows, people who have never heard of the singer or the bistro will click on the various links. All three will gain exposure and followers, and brand new people will show up at the gig. Good for all!

So, that, my friends, is Twitter at its best. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below. Oh, and “Tweet this up” with the share links below. It’s always sweet to tweet!

Learn more about Barbara Calderaro at her Website.
Keep up with my favorite neighborhood hangout, Artisan Bistro, on their Facebook Page.

Order a copy of Barb’s fabulous CD, or an autographed copy of my romance novel by clicking on either image.


  1. Fabulous article. I think I’ll go reTweet it right now.

  2. Thanks Rebecca! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Exactly…but we also have to remember that no one likes people who are only on twitter to tweet links and promote. If you’re not involved as a *person*, your promo tweets will generally be ignored (and worst case, you’ll be labelled a “spammer”). You still have to get involved, make friends, and socialize…otherwise the promo end won’t work. :-)

  4. Absolutely, Jamie. Even if you’re a small business on Twitter (and authors are basically small business owners), it’s good to interact with people in a personal way. I think this scares off some authors, though, because they equate being personal with throwing the doors open to invite the whole world into their house. Not so. Artisan Bistro, for example, hits it just right. They post on FB and Twitter primarily about special events and their menu — which is of value to their followers — but they take the time to thank people for coming in.

  5. Kim S. says:

    You are a wealth of information, Julie! Thank you for letting me share this valuable blog entry with my authors on the PPG Publisher’s Blog. I know they will find it as useful as I have!

  6. Thanks Kim! It’s always gratifying when I hear my blog helped someone.

  7. Libi Astaire says:

    Great blog post! I’ve been on Twitter for a few months and I’m slowly catching on, but you managed to capsulize the main things that an author needs to know in a few short paragraphs. Thanks so much for this information.

  8. I was the same way, Libi. But once I got the point of Twitter, it’s been very useful. Especially once I discovered HootSuite.com and how to use #hashtags. (Did you see my blog post on that?)

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