How Authors Can Use Twitter To Help Others

Chris Brogan wrote this week about using Twitter as a real-time prospecting tool as an author. In his case, he was looking for people who were at Barnes & Noble and might be interested in his book Trust Agents. This is great example of how authors could be using Twitter. Is there a more opportune moment to talk to a reader then when they are standing in front of hundreds of books?

In his Database of Intentions, John Batelle describes sites like Twitter and Facebook as collectors for “What I’m Doing?” and “What’s Happening?” For authors, these sites also capture the frustration of the moment; what someone is not doing or what is not happening. This gives authors another place to engage people whose problems they can help solve.

I have a saved search on Twitter for “business” and “books.” This smaller view of tweet does two things. First, I can see people asking for help on what books they should be reading.

This was a tweet I saw from JoAnn Jordan this morning:


Here was my response:


The link directed her to my website for my best of 2010 blog post. In some cases, I directly people to the list from The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. In either case, that exposes them to me and how I can help if they run across the problem of figuring what what business book they should read next.

The second part is that by listening to what people are saying on Twitter it also shows me what others are sharing as their solutions. JoAnn in her tweet above provides both a solution and a query for more help. Being able to see reviews and lists of businesses books people are sharing lets me share those with others.

Let me also give you two caveats to think about. First, search results are noisy. Some people specifically target keywords to create spam. Sometimes, the context is completely out of place. But even with the noise, I can look through the results for the past day in a couple of minutes and respond or forward posts.

The second is timeliness. Much more than a day and the strength of the intention falls dramatically. I have to treat checking my search results like looking through your email first thing every morning. And email is a good analogy. On Twitter there are a set of people asking for your help. With a little monitoring , you can connect with more people and let’s you help solve their problems.

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