Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day

by Pauleon Tan / Flickr

Today’s guest post is from writer and blogger Kirsten Oliphant (@kikimojo). Be sure to download her handy printable PDF checklist, Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day.


When I joined Twitter in 2009, I had pretty low expectations—as evidenced in my very first tweet:

Kirsten Oliphant's first tweet: "Just gave in to the ever-popular twitter. Sigh. These are even more annoying than the facebook status."

Seven years later, Twitter is one of my favorite platforms. Using Twitter, I found my first writing mastermind group, landed podcast interviews with power influencers like Problogger’s Darren Rowse, and was once retweeted by Vanilla Ice. Twitter is the quickest way to interact with both the authors you love and the readers you hope to have for your books.

But, like any form of social media, Twitter can devour your time. Being intentional has helped me get the most out of Twitter in the least amount of time. I want to share with you a 15-minute daily plan that will help you utilize Twitter to connect with influencers and your ideal audience. I only wish I could travel back to 2009 and give this to myself!

Before we dive into the details, you need to think about your goals and the kinds of people you want to connect with on Twitter. It is important to be a creator (sharing your own content) and a curator (sharing the content of others). Be intentional about the tweets you create and curate. Ask yourself if your tweets will be relevant to the audience you want to build or will help you connect with influential Twitter users.

The Tools You’ll Need

Each of these tools is free, but has a paid version. My recommendation is always to use free unless the paid version has something that saves you time or makes you more effective.

Hootsuite or Buffer will help you create lists (which you can also do natively in Twitter) and schedule tweets. These are not the only Twitter tools, but by far the most popular. Buffer has some great Chrome extensions, while Hootsuite allows for unlimited scheduled tweets. Pick the one that works best for you. I almost never use Twitter itself, but manage Twitter through Hootsuite.

Manageflitter will help you manage followers. Making exceptions for those who share fantastic content, I will unfollow users if they do not follow me back. (I usually give them a few weeks to follow back before I unfollow.)

The Setup

Step 1: Create Lists

Before you can manage Twitter in 15 minutes a day, you’ll need to set up lists and populate them with relevant people. Using Buffer or Hootsuite, create a few basic lists centered around your activity: “tweets I’ve sent,” “mentions,” “my tweets people have retweeted,” “direct messages,” “my scheduled tweets,” and “my home feed.” Those help you manage your own feed.

Then create lists based around the influencers whose content you plan to share. As an example, you might have lists like these: “Writers I Love,” “People Tweeting about Writing,” “Bloggers Who Review Books,” “Publishers & Agents.” You have the option to set your lists as private, which means they are not visible. Private lists are especially important if you choose list names like: “The People I Really Like” or “Influencers I Wish Were My BFF.” Here is a glance at a few of my lists in Hootsuite:

Image of Kirsten Oliphan'ts Hootesuite window.

Tip: See how the tweets with images catch your eye? Utilize images in 50 percent of your tweets to spark more engagement! The best size is 440 x 220 pixels.

Step 2: Connect with Other Influencers in Your Sphere

Seek out influencers in your niche or people successful in what you hope to do. Follow your favorite writers in all the genres you read, but especially the genre you want to write. You may also want to look for agents, publishers, relevant magazines, or bloggers who write about writing or books. Follow them and add them to different lists as you do. Add lists as necessary.

Step 3: Connect with Their Influencers

Scroll through the list of people your influencers follow and follow anyone relevant. If your favorite writer with 100,000 followers only follows 200 people, chances are they are significant. Add these people into your lists.

Step 4: Connect with Their Followers

If you want to attract the same kinds of readers as Gillian Flynn, follow her followers. Consider making a “Potential Readers” list or a “Book Lovers” list and add these people there. You can also look through the feeds of these people to see the interests and activities of your potential readership.

That’s a lot of following! But because people often follow back, this is a good way to build your following. You can only follow 2,000 people a day (and if you have time for that, you are spending too much time on Twitter). The goal is to follow people who are interesting to you and who might be interested in you. The purpose of lists is to help you organize these followers and to have an easy way to curate content.

Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day

Set a timer so you don’t fall into a social media black hole. And by all means, spend more time if you want to get serious about building up your Twitter account. But remember your overarching goals: do you want to be known as a Twitter power user or as a novelist? Where you spend your time reveals the answer.

Respond to Any Mentions or Retweets: 3 Minutes

Start by checking your lists where you can see any engagement. Who has responded to your tweets? Respond back. (If you want to take it a step further, see if they have any valuable tweets to retweet.) Who has shared or retweeted your content? Thank them for sharing. People love to see that you’re paying attention and it makes them more likely to share again.

Schedule Your Own Tweets: 3 Minutes

Schedule daily shares of your content. This may be links to your books on Amazon, blog posts or guest posts you have written, or links to your Instagram or Facebook posts. The goal is to craft great tweets that inspire sharing, so be intentional with your wording. I use the autoschedule feature in Hootsuite, which allows you to choose how many tweets you want to go live in a day and between what hours. This saves the time of having to choose a specific time and day. Mix up your posts! Use images. Try the poll feature or ask a question. Don’t just post links to your content.

Tip: Leave at least 24 characters in each tweet so that they are not too long for people to retweet.

Engage with Influencers: 3 Minutes

(This step and the next may be done in the same chunk of time.) Glance through your influencer lists and engage with any tweets that spark a response. Be genuine and don’t be desperate or spammy.

Schedule Tweets from Influencers: 3 Minutes

Schedule and share content from the influencers in your sphere. As with every stage of this, consider the kinds of content that will attract your ideal readers or audience. If there is enough room in each tweet, I will add a brief comment—or you can use the Quote Tweet feature in Twitter itself, which allows you to say a little more.

Find New People to Follow: 3 Minutes

Use the remaining time to find new people to follow using the same process you used during setup. This continues to give you new content to share and may connect you with people who want to read your work.

Weekly Tasks

Not everything can fit into a 15-minute chunk, so you may set aside one of your 15-minute periods to do these next tasks, or schedule separate time for Twitter in your week.

  • Long-term scheduling: I like daily scheduling, but sometimes I have a plan for more long-term schedules, especially if it relates to an event, like #NaNoWriMo. You can schedule tweets for particular days and times rather than relying on Autoschedule.
  • Manage followers through ManageFlitter: Using ManageFlitter, go back and unfollow the people who are not following you back or don’t have great content you are likely to share.
  • Join or watch twitter chats: Twitter chats can be another great way to connect around a particular topic. This is a fantastic way to really connect with relevant people. Find an exhaustive list of Twitter chats on Tweet Reports.
  • Check your analytics: Twitter has fantastic (and free!) analytics available. These can help you know what tweets are actually working for you. See what time of day people are interacting and what kinds of tweets are retweeted, responded to, or liked. Paying attention to the things that work will help you continue to create the best content for your ideal audience.

Whether you stick to this exact plan or adapt your own, the key to building a targeted audience on Twitter is being intentional, relevant, and active. Create and curate content to draw your ideal readers. Connect with relevant influencers in your niche as well as the kinds of people who want to read what you write. Find community through Twitter chats. Pay attention to what’s working and do it again and again.

Above all, manage your time on social media well so that you build a platform while writing, rather than instead of writing.


For more from Kirsten Oliphant, follow her on Twitter (@kikimojo), or download her PDF checklist, Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day.

Posted in Guest Post, Social Media and tagged , , .
Kirsten Oliphant

Kirsten Oliphant

Kirsten Oliphant has an MFA in fiction from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is the creator of the Free Email Course to help de-mystify email lists for bloggers & writers. She writes about authentic platform building at Create If Writing and interviews writers, bloggers, and other creatives on the Create If Writing Podcast. You can find her tweeting as @kikimojo or sign up for free monthly workshops on list-building, image creation, or other helpful training.

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57 Comments on "Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day"

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[…] Writer and blogger Kirsten Oliphant explains how to build your platform on Twitter in only 15 minutes a day.  […]

Angelika Schwarz

Fantastic article! Thanks for all the great tips!

Diana Dinverno

Thank you for breaking it down!

Julie S.

Ooh great checklist. I love Twitter 🙂 So easy to come and go and join in and stay out.

Felipe Adan Lerma

Kirsten, is it possible to add an image from my own data base? Or pick a particular image from a post? Or any other tips re managing using images? Thanks!

kirsten oliphant (@kikimojo)

I use Yoast SEO for WordPress to plug in images for Twitter and Facebook, but normally create my own Twitter image and upload directly from my computer, either to Twitter itself or Hootsuite. I like to use Picmonkey or Canva to create and size the images. The correct sizing is 440×220 for best images on Twitter! Hope that helps!

Felipe Adan Lerma

Thanks Kirsten. I use both Apple’s Preview and Photoshop, so that’s no problem. On the 440×220, is that horizontal or vertical, or either works? Also nice to know I can upload directly to Hootsuite. Never used it yet, but plan to try it out based on your info. Thanks 🙂

kirsten oliphant (@kikimojo)

Horizontal definitely for the images! And Hootsuite does show the image, but you have to change a setting first. Here is a post on how to do that quickly: http://blog.hootsuite.com/pic-twitter-publishing-option/

Felipe Adan Lerma

Found & bookmarked it! Thank you 🙂

Lonna Hill

This was very helpful. Thank you.

Marianne Perry

Thanks for the tips. Explanations excellent. Much appreciated.

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[…] Engaging Audiences Through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day (Jane Friedman) Twitter is one of my favorite platforms. Using Twitter, I found my first writing mastermind group, landed podcast interviews with power influencers like Problogger’s Darren Rowse, and was once retweeted by Vanilla Ice. Twitter is the quickest way to interact with both the authors you love and the readers you hope to have for your books. […]

Rachel Leigh Smith (@rachelleighgeek)

I don’t love Twitter, but I know it’s an important part of visibility as an author. This was very helpful and I’m saving it for reference.

kirsten oliphant (@kikimojo)
I didn’t love it at first. In fact, often it felt very barren, mostly because everything you write on Facebook (your profile, anyway, not so much your page) gets at LEAST a like. It seemed like on Twitter, so much went ignored. But I think as time went on I started giving more and worrying about what I received back less, if that makes sense. I ASSUME I won’t get much feedback. So I get excited when I do. I like to share a lot and hope to be a resource, but if I don’t feel like people are talking… Read more »
Horace Williams Jr

Great insight to using Twitter effectively Kirsten! It has become my favorite SM platform which is surprising. Thanks for sharing the knowledge. I am so sharing this post!

kirsten oliphant (@kikimojo)

Thanks so much!! Glad it was helpful. I was surprised to finally like Twitter too. Clearly I was a hater at first. 🙂

Nan Sanders Pokerwinski

This is so valuable, Kirsten — thank you for sharing it. I’m just getting started on Twitter, and I’d been trying to figure out how to get the most out of it without eating up my time. Your suggestions are exactly the kind of guidance I needed.

kirsten oliphant (@kikimojo)

I’m so glad! I think I would have had way more followers and engagement (and fun!) had I known some of these things earlier. I also sometimes forget to put them into practice for myself, and when I DO, I see marked improvement. And, again, more fun. 🙂

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[…] as she puts it, is the best way to get the most out of using the medium with the least effort. Here (link) she shares a 15-minute daily plan, stressing the importance of being both a creator (sharing […]

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[…] Oliphant on Jane FriedmanEngaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day “…Twitter can devour your time. Being intentional has helped me get the most out of Twitter in […]

Katie Engen

Love the time break downs – so helpful, thanks!

Jonah Lisa

As a complete twidiot, I really appreciate this article not only for the sake of productivity but simply as a guide to what the heck to DO on Twitter in the first place. I’ve tried it several occasions without really “getting it.” I’m having much better luck this time around with this bit of guidance.

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[…] Hate Twitter? Here’s how to master it in 15 minutes a day. […]

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[…] oft-asked question: Is social media effective for marketing books?; Kirsten Olpihant shows how to use Twitter effectively in 15 minutes a day, Sara Hathaway shows how Pinterest is changing the social media game, and Sandra Beckwith tells us […]

Marie

This is great. I work with several Twitter accounts and am excited to put this time breakdown into effect to keep everyone on track! Thanks!

Karen

Thanks for the tips, especially about Manage Flitter and Buffer!

Coffin-Johnny

I think this article is great. Well put together and well though of and definitely developed through experience in the trench, but when is enough, enough. When does the last social media tool become the last tool you need to know or learn?

kirsten oliphant (@kikimojo)

Great question! I think it’s good to stay up with the new platforms–you never know which ones will stick. Or which ones will be the perfect one for YOU to connect with your ideal audience. I think the balance of exploring and utilizing social media without losing all your time to it is really the hard part. We can’t do ALL the things, all the time. But it’s good to look at the things and see how they might work for our goals.

Jane Friedman

When technology stops progressing, you can stop learning.

kirsten oliphant (@kikimojo)

So, in case of the zombie apocalypse, we are ALL off the hook for keeping up with new tech.

Jane Friedman

Exactly. 😉

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[…] Engaging Audiences Through Twitter in 15 Minutes per Day […]

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[…] one day in early December, I came across Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day by Kirsten Oliphant (@kikimojo). I saw the headline, thought, “Fifteen minutes? Riiight,” and […]

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[…] sharing from lists I’ve created on Twitter. (Read more on my process in this guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog.) Some relate to writing, some relate to social media, some relate to food, and some are just […]

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[…] see what might work best for your goals. Creating a streamlined time management breakdown is not as simple as it is on Twitter, but I will also suggest a workflow to help you manage both groups and pages. Even if you choose […]

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[…] Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day […]

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[…] out Jane Friedman’s site. In December she featured guest posts by Kirsten Oliphant on “Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day” and by Chris Jane on “Overcoming My Fear of Twitter.” In the latter post Chris Jane […]

Monica

This was really great information! I just made a twitter account and I am so confused! But I’m saving this post and will be working on every step! Again, thanks so much!!!

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[…] Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day […]

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[…] as she puts it, is the best way to get the most out of using the medium with the least effort. Here she shares a 15-minute daily plan, stressing the importance of being both a creator (sharing your […]

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[…] have led to this revelation, perhaps the biggest of which was an article by Kirsten Oliphant–Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day. That encouraged me to try out scheduling apps, which is something I’ve avoided for a long time […]

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[…] Engaging Audiences Through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day by Kirsten Oliphant from Jane Friedman. Peek: “…you’ll need to set up lists and populate them with relevant people.” See also Be Real: A Social Media Strategy That Works by Martha Brockenbrough from SCBWI Insight. […]

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[…] time-saver. John Lee Dumas talked about this with me on the podcast. I wrote about how I can manage Twitter in 15 minutes a day on Jane Friedman’s site. It lets you do one kind of task in a big chunk of time and helps you […]

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[…] “Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day” on Jane Friedman […]

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[…] “Engaging Audiences through Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day” on Jane Friedman […]

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[…] authors. We can connect with our readers in ways that were not possible even ten years ago using Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest. The problem is that we don’t control the connections. We are subject to […]

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[…] #2. Engaging Audiences Through Twitter in 15 Minutes per Day […]

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[…] authors. We can connect with our readers in ways that were not possible even ten years ago using Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest. The problem is that we don’t control the connections. We are subject to […]

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[…] Expect Anything Back I set up lists in Twitter via Hootsuite (see more of my Twitter practices HERE) and have lists of bloggers, social media experts, writers, and more. I try to schedule out shares […]

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[…] authors. We can connect with our readers in ways that were not possible even ten years ago using Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest. The problem is that we don’t control the connections. We are subject to […]

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[…] Twitter Twitter is a fast and easy way to connect. I like to find and follow other bloggers and writers similar to me. Then I look at who they follow and especially who follows them. Check the Twitter profiles to find new followers. (For more on this method, see my guest post on Jane Friedman’s site on using Twitter in 15 minutes a day.) […]

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[…] Want to know my tips for using Twitter? Read about my own workflow! […]

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[…] Even if you have great automation and scheduling in place, you should plan for a window of time each day to interact in real time. Respond to comments, retweets, or other engagement. Follow relevant people back. Answer or ask questions in real time. Do some non-scheduled shares. In general, be active for some period of time each day. (Read this post to see my workflow for using Twitter in 15 minutes a day.) […]

Dave Mears

Hi Kirsten, don’t forget “TweetDeck” as I was surprised it was not mentioned.

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