I’ve been on Twitter for awhile, now. It’s probably the primary outpost in my hub and outpost model, which I’ve been using even before I knew what it was called. I’m on Facebook and GoodReads, also, but Twitter seems to be what I’ve taken to the most. Maybe because it’s so quick and easy. It’s simple to jump in and out of the conversation. But it took me awhile to learn some of the subtle uses of it. To spur you on your way to Twitter greatness, here are my top tips. Some of these may be author-specific, or at least specific to those who will be using it to market a good or service, but there should also be some good ones for anyone who wants to be a more effective tweeter.
English: Tweeting bird, derived from the initial 't' of Twitter Deutsch: Twitschervogel, entwickelt aus dem Anfangs-'t' von Twitter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Use it for the right reasons
If the only reason you’re on social media is to market and sell, then I wish you luck. Some people may go there so they can be advertised to, but I can’t imagine there are many. If, on the other hand, you’re getting on social media to connect with your peers, meet and engage your fans, help others, pass along useful information, learn, and generally use it to form relationships, you’ll probably enjoy it more and your followers will enjoy it more. And when you (sparingly) use it to promote your goods and/or services, I think you’ll find it more rewarding. See the 80-20 rule below.
2. Be active but not hyperactive.
If you want followers, you should be active on Twitter, but you don’t want to annoy the heck out of your followers (who will then likely stop following you) by posting dozens of tweets a day. Space out your tweets. Consider using some of my techniques from the autopilot section below. You should focus on quality over quantity. If you keep screaming, “Notice me,” after you’re noticed for all the wrong reasons, you’re going to be ignored.
3. Remember the 80-20 rule.
This is the one that goes 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people, or if you’re in Scouting, it’s the 90-10 rule (or is that 95-5? I forget). For tweeting, this means that (at least) 80% of your tweets should not be advertising. They should be interesting, helpful, or anything that’s not advertising. Do you like watching commercials, or do you spin through them (or change channels, etc.)? If your twitter feed is nothing but you repeating, “Buy my book!” your followers are going to tune you out. If, on the other hand, you’ve brought value to their day, you might get rewarded with increased mindshare, good feelings, and maybe even a sale.
4. Put Twitter on (semi-) autopilot.
You’re doing stuff through the day or night. You’re blogging. You’re reading websites. Maybe, you’re reviewing books on GoodReads. These things can be used to populate your Twitter feed, keeping you visible, providing value to your followers, and helping you meet that 80-20 rule. So, here’s what you need to do:
- Go sign up for IFTTT. Look through their recipes. There are way more than just Twitter recipes, but that’s what we’ll focus on here. Well, Buffer recipes actually, since IFTTT had to remove all the recipes where Twitter was the “If”. :(
- Go sign up for Buffer. Link your Twitter account to it.
- If you’re not already using Instapaper or similar, start. Really, start now. Instapaper is to the web what a PVR/DVR is to TV.
- Find some IFTTT recipes you like and modify them to fit your needs. Of special interest are the ones that involve RSS and buffer. Tie in the RSS feed from your blog. Tie in the RSS feed from your liked articles in Instapaper. Figure out if there are other information sources you use that would be interesting or useful to your followers and tie that in.
Now, when you tweet, add it to Buffer so you don’t send a barrage of tweets to your followers all at once. Unless what you’re sending is time-sensitive or you’ve run out of Buffer space, then tweet it right then. It’s actually a good idea to mix some of that in so you’re getting some tweets in there at your out-of-the ordinary times (hence the semi- up there). Then, you don’t seem like a robot, and you’re more likely to catch those followers who might not be checking Twitter on Buffer’s schedule.
5. Use lists.
When I first started getting followers, I would vet them. Did they tweet all the time? Were they going to clog up my feed with sales pitches and make me miss out on the people I really wanted to follow? If yes, I didn’t follow them back. And eventually, most of them stopped following me, too.
Now, I use lists in conjunction with Hootsuite, and I follow back most of my followers using Tweepi. I can look at my main feed to see everything that’s going on with all my followers, even the ones who scream, “Buy my book” all the time. But I have a couple of private lists that contain the people I absolutely don’t want to miss. So, I get the best of both worlds: extra followers and extra visibility, some of whom I may forge lasting relationships with, without missing out on the people whose tweets I don’t ever want to miss.
6. Use hashtags.
If there’s a better explanation than Laura’s, I haven’t found it. Click here for a great article and collection of hashtags.
That’s my list. I hope it’s useful. If you have some tips that need to be shared, please add them into the comment below. If you found this useful, please share it!