Adventures with TweetAdder

I love Twitter. I’m just gonna come right out and say that up front. Criticizing Twitter has become a cliché: “Who wants to read what people had for lunch?” Anyone making that criticism is outing themselves that they don’t really use Twitter. Every day I read an amazing array of cool tidbits, vignettes of life and links I’d never have found on my own from people all over the planet.

I primarily tweet from the viewpoint of an author. Every author who’s the least bit interested in promotion of her or his book needs a Twitter presence. But I’ll confess, acquiring followers isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Following is a voluntary process, and you can’t go around forcing people to join, even though you suspect they’d be very interested in what you have to say or write. That’s where TweetAdder comes in.

TweetAdder is a program that automates the process of acquiring Twitter followers. I read about it in Jon F. Merz‘s book How to Really Sell Ebooks, in which he devotes at least a chapter to implementing the program. (I really appreciate that about Jon’s book, the step by step detailed instructions rather than vague platitudes about how great the product is.)

I was a little skeptical at first. What TweetAdder does for you is grab lists of people who follow people you specify and automate the process of following them. For example, since I’ve written a steampunk book, I wanted to engage the followers of Gail Carriger and Cherie Priest. The theory, obviously, is that if you follow someone, they will very often follow you back. TweetAdder manages the grunt work, unfollowing people who don’t follow you back within three days (or whatever time period you specify), and maintaining that vital ratio of followers to people you’re following.

At first the idea struck me as somewhat sleazy. But when I thought about it, I realized that I’m just tapping into people who share common interests. I’m selecting people to market to based on their reading preferences (presumably that’s why they follow the people they do). I’ve gone from a couple of hundred followers to 1,085 in about six weeks’ time.

Here’s the challenge, though. Nobody wants to read a constant barrage of spam, requesting they buy my book. As Jon F. Merz stresses, Twitter is about relationships. You have to interact with your followers as if they’re people (since, y’know, they are). Engaging in 140 characters on a regular basis is difficult for me, particularly when I’m at work. I’ve tried posting interesting historical trivia related to the research I did for The Source of Lightning, and links to fascinating items found on the American Memory site. I’m still experimenting. Occasionally I get retweets. Sometimes I even get into conversations. Which is really what Twitter is all about.

Do you have experience with TweetAdder? Thoughts about Twitter marketing? Share in the comments below.

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