Last month, we talked about some big changes coming to Facebook that could impact book marketing. This month, we wanted to gather information on one of Facebook’s biggest rivals (e.g. another of your social media assets): Twitter.

Now, one of the first rules of thumb with Twitter is that you shouldn’t use it if you hate it because Twitter requires attention—lots of attention. The average lifespan of a Tweet is much shorter than a post on Facebook, which means that in order to stay relevant, you’ll need to be posting multiple times per day. According to Sprout Social writer Dominique Jackson,

“it’s recommended that you Tweet five or more times per day, and post to Facebook three to 10 times a week. Make sure you’re testing and measuring to find out what social media posting schedule works best for you.”

Life on Twitter may be fast-paced, but it can also be hyper engaging. On Twitter, you have better access to established authors in your genre, other publishers, and a general press of literati that can help you build a firm following if you use your feed correctly. Although, research shows that Twitter may now have reached a user plateau, that doesn’t change the fact that this is still one of the biggest social media sites in the game today, and one that authors, in particular, can use with amazing results.

If you’re the kind of person this excites, or if you think you can stick it out in the wild world of Twitter, you’re in luck. We’ve gathered five tips that will help you optimize your Twitter presence for the book publishing world and stay relevant on this fast paced platform.

1. What’s in a name: Your Twitter handle is more than just an identifier, it’s also a marketing tool. Rather than simply identifying yourself by your first and last name (which may be unavailable in any case), try making up something more descriptive, or incorporating your book title. Twitter expert Carol Tice goes by the handle “@TiceWrites.” It lets people know not only who she is, but also what she does. Remember: keep it short and snappy (like everything else on Twitter).

2. The book by its cover: This is a few different tips we rolled into one principle—finish your profile! Fill everything in completely, get yourself a great profile picture (like that headshot you took for your back cover), find a free background to spruce up your page (or go the extra mile and customize it with your book cover image), and link your Twitter to your website, Facebook page, LinkedIn and anything else that is relevant. There are so many trolls and robots running rampant on social media these days that every detail counts to make you stand out from the scammers.

3. It’s not what you know…: There are writers on Twitter. Loads of them. Find the most influential writers in your genre or niche market and start building a list. Some pages will follow you back right away, others won’t, but if you pay attention you may find that they post resources that will help you. It isn’t called a social “network” for nothing.That said, there is a time and season for everything. According to Tice,

“Once you start to accumulate a few hundred followers, it’s time to cut back your list of who you’re following. That’s because just like the ratio of good to bad cholesterol, your ratio of followers to people you’re following is important. When you have substantially more followers than you do people you follow, it tells people you’re interesting. You don’t have to follow people to get them to follow you. That attracts more followers.” (emphasis added)

4. Behind the cover: A pretty Twitter page is nothing without content. And with Twitter, you will need large amounts of content that point people to your book. Social media strategist Lynn Serafinn suggests pulling on content that you’ve already written: that is, Tweeting from your book.

“Start by making a Tweet for each of your chapters, and then break these into sub-ideas. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself making hundreds of Tweets from a single book. Make sure the Tweets are short and only contain a single idea. That way, people will be more apt to absorb their meaning as they fly by on their Twitter stream.”

Make sure you provide a link to your book, so people can buy it easily.

Another of her tips is to Tweet lines from your best reviews on Amazon (or from endorsements), and within these Tweets include the reviewer’s Twitter handle (so that they are encouraged to reTweet it to their own followers), the link to the review on Amazon, and whatever hashtag you’re using for your title.

5. But enough about me…: It may sound counterintuitive (after all, this is your page), but you can’t talk about yourself all day long and expect to retain followers. People will be more likely to pay attention if they know you’re giving them something useful, in addition to advertising your own accomplishments. According to Tice,

“Once you’re following thought leaders in your topic, you can just scan down your Tweetstream and quickly find things to retweet. Or use SmartBriefs to find interesting articles, or Google Alerts. Presto! You are interesting enough to get followers now. But stop making it all about you, because that’s why no one is interested.”

A good general rule on social media is the 40/30/30 rule: give away 40% (in the form helpful tidbits), promote others for 30% by retweeting, and promote yourself for 30%. If you Tweet seven times per day, that would mean curating three tips, promoting two other people, and Tweeting twice specifically about your book. Keep in mind that these numbers are flexible, and if it works for you to tweet about yourself 50% of the time, while promoting others 50% of the time, go for it!

Hopefully, this article has helped Twitter go from daunting to doable. For more information about why Twitter might be right (or wrong) for you, check out Dominique Jackson’s astute comparison of the two. And check out both Carol Tice and Lynn Serafinn‘s other ideas about keeping up on Twitter. Until next time, good luck, and happy Tweeting!