The Twitter #WritersLift: Good Ideas Gone Bad

If you’re an independent author, the Twitter #WritersCommunity is a vastly supportive place for authors. If you are struggling with inspiration, need advice, or would like a fellow author to talk to, this is the place for you. If it’s something specific, search that hashtag, and voila, you have precisely what you need. Technology can be so cool. On the other hand, if you’ve heard of the #WritersLift, you may know that it is the lowest point for the writing community.

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The #WritersLift was created to help raise the visibility of small-time creators who may have just gotten started or those who only have a small audience. The idea itself seems like a helpful one full of promise. Let me explain how the Writer’s Lift works. An author will make a post on Twitter such as, “Hello #WritingCommunity, Let’s talk about #WritersLift. Post your #WIP (work in progress) or links to books, articles, blogs, and so forth. Share your work with other writers and follow those you find interesting!”

In theory, a writer’s lift sounds like a fun and innocent way to collect expert advice for new writers and a place to share the work of lesser-known authors. Unfortunately, too many people have turned a good thing into a bad thing by using this interaction as a follower-boosting scheme and nothing more.

With so many authors treating #WritersLift like a self-serving social media scam to compete against other authors to see who can get the most followers, the point is completely lost. This should be about lifting other writers up, not making them feel like they must resort to scams to attain followers. Don’t get me wrong; having followers is essential and should be an end goal for the authors on Twitter, but it is not the primary purpose, nor should it be.

How Much Did That Follower Cost You?

A follow-for-follow isn’t going to benefit you in the end. You might follow 10,000 accounts, and they might follow you back, but it is not the same as gaining an authentic fanbase. Everything gets swamped with messages and posts at that point and does more harm than good. It can be incredibly overwhelming to log in to Twitter and see so many posts that you honestly do not care about. You will have to weed through all of the dismissible posts in order to find something in which you are genuinely interested. Just thinking about it gives me a headache!

You can look into curating your Twitter feed by making lists of specific users who you DO want to see posts from. It is a tedious task and, again, quite overwhelming when all you are truly trying to do is get feedback from other writers and grow your organic following. Another way is to mute the Twitter accounts you do not want to see, but know that many of those randoms you decided to follow in return for them following your page will likely be doing the same to your account. 

At that point, you need to ask yourself if this has been worth it. Sometimes too much of something is a very bad thing. Focus on your writing, display it in an eye-catching way and see if you can’t strike up a conversation with some of the more experienced writers you follow. Honesty goes a long way, and Twitter accounts that beg for followers are cheesy and viewed as spam.

Twitter Jail

What is Twitter Jail, and why is it a status symbol to market that you’ve been there to other writers? Twitter jail limits the ability to follow other users and the number of tweets you can send out within a specific timeframe. Twitter enforces the policy to limit the amount of spam on the platform.If you play by these very easy rules to follow, you will never find yourself in this position. However, way too many writers do end up this way. They can’t seem to escape the restrictions of Twitter because Twitter is out to get them but because they are likely promoting spam in one way or another. It’s not too hard to acquire followers on Twitter; there are numerous websites where you can purchase followers for your account. This WordStream article outlines the pros and cons of buying followers and even links to some websites that make it possible. Personally, I think the organic approach is the most forthcoming.

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Be Authentically You

If you do decide to purchase followers, you will soon realize they are not engaged and are simply there to increase your follower number. You will not find the other struggling authors in line to buy your latest book, just as you will not be rushing to pre-order their book. Follow those with purpose and not just as filler. It is nice to make friends with other writers on #WritersLift, but do not think everyone will reach out to you and buy your book without a bit of warm-up first. Be communicative, help other writers, tell them what you like about their work, ask questions, laugh together, and be authentic. More often than not, once a person knows a bit about you and can say, “that’s my friend from the #WritersCommunity,” they are much more likely to purchase and read your book. It’s much like cold calling in sales. It feels artificial and a bit like spam to pitch your book to someone without knowing them. Once you have developed a relationship with other writers or people in general, they may want to buy your book simply because you were kind to them and they would like to support you.

Try sharing a bit of your life and personality on Twitter. Gain people’s attention not by promoting a book but by being authentically you. Post interesting topics, and talk about things everyone in the group likes to talk about or ask for assistance. Posting what’s on your mind is an excellent way to get the conversations flowing, especially if you ask for feedback in the post. Everyone has an opinion, and most love to share them. You might even do this on #WritingAdvice and see what kind of feedback you get. Finding common ground with other writers is a great way to start a conversation and open up the possibility of fellowship over followership. Trust me, no one likes a sales pitch, and most tend to tune it out.

Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, I can’t tell you what to do or not do. That is entirely up to you. I hope this article sheds light on why the quality of followers will always outrank the number of followers. By networking, you can go so far. Collecting random followers to increase your numbers in the hopes that they will rush out and purchase your latest book when you make the “It’s available on amazon! Check it out here” post is unrealistic and, quite frankly, entirely fiction. Most people can tell when you are being fake, and many will tune you out the second you start sounding like that. Be you. That is my best advice. 

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