How to Build an Online Platform: Twitter

Photo credit: Scott Beale on Flickr
So I’ve been doing this social media thing for a little over three years now, and it semi-recently occurred to me, after a couple people commented at RT14, that I guess I’m semi-sort of okay at it?

I don’t know you guys, I hadn’t really given it much thought until recently.

Occasionally I’ve had people ask me how I got so many Twitter followers/blog views/etc., so I figured I’d share what I know in a couple convenient blog posts. And really, all I know is what worked for me. Your mileage may vary.

Okay? Okay.

So I was going to include all the social media sites I use in one post…but I quickly realized that’d be a ridiculously long post. So I’m splitting it up! Look for more of these in the future. :)

Today’s focus is Twitter!

  • Twitter birthday: April 10, 2011 (3.3 years, as of this writing). 
  • Followers: Roughly 2.2kish as of this writing. 
  • Time spent weekly: Way too much (read: all the time). (Can’t actually count because…yeah). 

So Twitter was the very first social media venture I started with, and thus the one I have the most experience with. In many ways, it was the scariest (because OMG I’m online now), but I quickly learned that Twitter is actually ridiculously fun and addictive.


  • Getting a ton of followers isn’t the point. What you want are followers who engage with you and genuinely pay attention to and like what you have to say, so that they share your content and remember you. I don’t automatically follow anyone who follows me, but I do follow anyone who fits into this criteria. And it’s how I’ve made some awesome Twitter friends.

  • Don’t spam. I wrote a whole post about what qualifies as spamming. It doesn’t work. Ever. Don’t do it. 

  • Be yourself. I follow some people who swear. I follow some people who talk politics and religion. I follow some people who scream in all caps about the next Sherlock episode and rage about whether or not Korra and Mako should be together.

    Guess what? You’re going to lose followers for being yourself, but it doesn’t matter. Again, you don’t want followers for the sake of having followers—you want people who genuinely like you and what you say. So say whatever you want to talk about and be yourself and you’ll get genuine connects with people who genuinely like you. And that’s pretty awesome.

  • Be professional. This may sound like the opposite of the last point, but it’s not—you can be yourself without being rude or burning bridges pretty easily. If you’re a writer, it means not raging about rejections or screaming about the evil publishing gods or badmouthing industry people (or people in general, really). Be nice. Be polite. And still be you. (TL;DR: Don’t be a jerk, okay?) 

  • Reciprocate. Eventually, the day will come where people share your stuff. I generally advise you pay attention to people who frequently share your tweets and see what content they share—you may very well find you like what they have to say, too.

    I try to make a point of saying thank you to people who share my tweets, but lately it’s become ridiculously difficult to thank everyone because…it adds up quickly and quite frankly, I don’t always have the time to catch up.

    But! Before you reach that point, I totally recommend you take the time to say thank you (and even after you reach that overwhelming point, do your best). It’s a great way to connect with people, and it’s a nice thing to do. Like I said before—be nice. 

So those are my Twitter tips! Now I want to hear from you: what tips do you have for building a platform on Twitter? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Looking to build a platform on Twitter? @Ava_Jae shares her experience and a few tips. (Click to tweet)
"Getting a ton of followers isn't the point," and other Twitter platform building tips from @Ava_Jae. (Click to tweet)


Laura Rueckert said...

I'm not so sure this helps to build your platform, but Twitter lists have helped me to use the time I spend on Twitter more effectively. I have lists for my Twitter buddies, for agents, for resources. Depending on how much time I have on any given day, I can prioritize which lists I want to review.

Ava Jae said...

That's a great point! I probably keep forgetting to mention Twitter lists because even though I have a couple, I rarely use them. Oops?

Laura Rueckert said...

I wouldn't think to use the lists with regular Twitter. But it is sooo easy with Tweetdeck. :)

Ava Jae said...

Ahhhh that makes sense. Gotcha.

Leandra said...

I've just started w/Twitter several months ago and I'm liking it more than I thought I would. =) I like being able to follow agents and participate in hashtag parties(correct term?) for authors w/new books out, that sort of thing. I meant to do a #askanagent type thing the other night and completely forgot. =(

S.E Dee said...

I read a really strange post (or at least I found it strange) where someone was encouraging writers to not be themselves. Or more to "Keep your Opinions to Yourself." I understand the whole no tearing through other writers but acting like a robot can be just as unpleasant. Having said that, writers have come a long way since the internet. I remember when no one cared at all LOL!

Patchi said...

Totally agree. I liked the premise that Mal took Alina for granted and only started caring for her when he thought he lost her. But after the first book, I'd have thought there would be more of a relationship building between them. I didn't get that feeling in book 2, not much of an explanation of why not. But book 3 compensated for that when it was clear that Mal thought he didn't deserve Alina. However, I was really sad for Nicholas at the end (not so much for the Darkling because of all his manipulation).

Yeah, I can gush about these books as much as you can. I read all 3 in the span of a month. So glad I followed your recommendation, Ava :-)

Ava Jae said...

Woot! I'm so glad you enjoyed the series! I love it forever and always.

I won't talk about my feels about the ending just in case someone who hasn't read it looks at the comments...but there were A LOT OF FEELS for a lot of characters. So.

I agree that Mal taking Alina for granted initially was an interesting premise. It played off the friends to lovers trope in a way I hadn't read before (usually they're super into each other to begin with, or it's the girl who just starts to realize she likes the guy, etc). Overall, I think the romance was handled super ridiculously well.

Ava Jae said...

I love being able to interact with authors on Twitter. It's really neat walking into a bookstore and thinking I've talked to that author...and that one...and I'm Twitter friends with that one... :)

No worries about missing #askagent, though! They run them pretty frequently—just keep an ear out!

Ava Jae said...

I mean, I think keep your NEGATIVE opinions to yourself maybe, but mostly if you're acerbic and/or insulting. Otherwise? *shrug*

I tend not to bother worrying about people unfollowing. If they don't like what I have to say, then that's okay! I prefer to connect with people who actually connect, if you know what I mean. :)

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