Why is Twitter the best tool to find your target audience? This picture tells the story.

Why is Twitter the best tool to find your target audience? This picture tells the story.

You hear the one about the two authors who walk into a bar? One has a mailing list. The other one has zip. Nada.

Mailing List: “I saw that tweet about your book sale the other day.”

Zip Nada: “Yeah. I got two whole sales after a week of prep, a $50 ad spend on Goodreads and 28 tweets.”

Mailing List: “Wow. That sucks.”

Zip Nada: “Thanks. That’s really helpful. I got your newsletter about your book last month. Looked nice.”

Mailing List: “50 copies sold. Not too bad. Why don’t you use your email list to promote sales?”

Zip Nada: “I don’t have one.”

Mailing List: “Oh man! It took me seven years to build mine! You’d better get started, like yesterday!”

What’s the punchline of the joke? Zip Nada punches Mailing List in the face.

If a writer doesn’t have an email list, does he make a sound when he falls in the forest?

Many writers experience dismal sales from Twitter/Facebook/[enter social network name here]. A common complaint is, “My followers are family, friends or fellow writers who don’t buy other writer’s books.”

We’re told that we should have an email list. That way we can reach the highest quality, most targeted audience possible.

Uh. I’m afraid all the above is true.


Here’s some great (and little-discussed) news. If you use Twitter then you can reach your target audienceNo matter what the “quality” is of your followers!


Twitter Analytics, is a spectacular tool for finding people to buy your book.

You could say, “but that assumes my social network followers care about my books and they demonstrably do not.” This is a big misconception,and probably one of the most damaging to authors who blog, tweet and share online. We’re told by a lot of smart people out there that people who follow us, Like our posts or share our tweets aren’t necessarily fans, or even readers.

That’s a glass half empty (and incomplete) perspective.

Here’s mine:

The Twitter connections we’ve made online with non-fans and even non-readers are valuable enough to sell books.

How can that be? Because Twitter has learned so much about them!

Here’s what I mean. This is a breakdown of my Twitter following.


twitter analytics genre

Is that a marketer’s ten thousand dollar breakdown of potential audience?

No, it’s Twitter’s free report on my followers.

Yup. They actually tell me what interests my followers have, even broken down by favorite genres! So for all my Twitter struggles and misses and successes over the years, in the final analysis it was my mere presence that gave Twitter the data it needed to say, “Hey, good job reaching out. Here’s who you have. Now go have fun selling your book to them!”

How does this help you? If you look at your own follower breakdown you’ll spot interests and terms that you can tweet about. For instance, using the data above, I just brainstormed a new tweet that I’m going to try:

Tweet: How do teenagers learn #leadership skills? Shirley gets crash course in #mystery Shirley Link & The Treasure Chest http://ctt.ec/n4z2o+

In that book, my heroine (Shirley Link) gets a lesson in leadership when she tries to get her two best (and bickering) friends to work together. All while dragging her dad around so he can help with the case.

So I’ve used two terms that I know (from solid Twitter data) will resonate with a huge part of my Twitter following: “mystery” and “leadership”.

But it doesn’t end there. You could apply this data to find terms for your book description, your book metadata and even blog posts about your book. Then when your audience clicks on the tweet they’ll see their favorite subject brought up again and again as they decide if they want to buy or not.

Conclusion: Get signed up for Twitter Analytics to find your target audience

So the lesson here is, you might not have a big enough mailing list yet. But as you build that up, don’t fret. Use Twitter and some common sense and you’ll find your readers.

Sign up for Twitter analytics here.

by Ben Zackheim

If you liked this post, give these a try!

WordPress for authors and writers (part four)

WordPress for authors and writers (part three)

WordPress for authors and writers (part two)

WordPress for authors and writers (part one)

Top 5 writing contests


  1. Oh, man. That is both convincing and a good lesson in how to write a Tweet that will reach people. Thanks. I will get a Twitter account soon.

  2. Great, Rebecca! I look forward to it. I’m happy to hear you thought the post was helpful. Feel free to share it when you sign up with Twitter!

  3. Sorry I’m not convinced. Why would anybody tweet just to sell books? I hate the whole concept of tweeting and frankly, I don’t really see the appeal. So I’ll never be tweeting. I have 3 ebooks out, with 5 sales overall, LOL so I guess my sales have peaked. Once upon a time I was sort of excited at the prospect of promotion gambits and the like, now I find it’s just one big yawn. If the only way of making sales is via sociopathic media, thanks but no thanks. I wonder if a lot of people aren’t similarly appalled at the whole phenom. :)

    • That may be my favorite comment ever, Stephen. I agree with you on a number of fronts! There’s a certain hectic melodrama to the whole social network thing (sociopathic network!!) that’s a big turn off. The warm corner where I find comfort is that we’re only starting to find new ways to connect to readers. I find that intriguing enough to dive in, even while horrified. I’m especially intrigued by the idea of how our identity as people will shift around in the coming years as the Internet grows (and shrinks) in its impact.

      As time goes on, things like Twitter providing us with interests or other data on their users will become trite and dated. I’m confident we’ll find new tools for people who love to sell online and offline. For now, I’m on the lookout for new methods of finding the ever-elusive target audience.

      Thanks for reading. And commenting!

  4. Twitter is an awesome network to promote anything imo. I signed up and am interested in seeing how my stats come out. Thank you!

    • My pleasure, Bren. And I agree re: Twitter. It’s a fun place for introverts like me to shine a little ;-) I haven’t had as much success selling fiction there as I’d like. But things are looking up since I started digging into data.

  5. I’ve had twitter for 2 years. Frankly, I’ve never understood it. It’s total Greek to me. I follow 62 people and have 2 followers. Who I follow are writers, directors, reviewers, media personalities I admire. I take it I post stuff and other people see it and react in some way? Why? It just makes no sense to me. I must be out of touch. LOL I’ve never had any sort of reply or email / twitter reply to any tweet I made in that first month. After a few weeks I just gave up. I imagine there are lots of people like me. So, if I did have followers who I interacted with, then I could get analytics of their interests & preferences, and then pitch stuff to them? I suppose, yeah I suppose it’s plausible. I know, I know people who rave about it, but I just don’t get it.

  6. I’ve found Twitter to be the best SM site for writers/bloggers. I understand why many people are turned off by it but that may be due to the way they are approaching the site. For me, it’s not a great conversation site but more of place to quickly search topics/people who are inline with my interests. The majority of the posts and articles I read I have found on Twitter (like this one).

    I’m interested in your approach to TA and will start giving it a try this week. Thanks for sharing with us, Ben.

    • I agree. Twitter is like the best newsfeed ever form a certain pov. As long as you’re connecting with the right people, you’re probably getting a lot of value out of your feed.

      I’ve also found some great conversations (and even started a few). It’s also pretty thrilling when an idol of yours shows up to participate in a discussion.

      Thanks for reading, Monica!



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