Updated March 12, 2016
Most of my traffic these days comes from search, Facebook and Pinterest. However, back in 2010, when I decided to have a go at making money blogging, my blogging “career” took a decided turn when I started hanging out on Twitter.
As I mentioned in my post, How to Determine Your Best Social Media Sites, you should hang out where your potential readers are. If they’re on Twitter, it’s a good place to be. Here are some tips.
1. Dive in
One of the most common things I hear from people new to Twitter is confusion about how to use it. Some have likened Twitter to a cocktail party with people mingling around, chatting about various things. The idea is to find conversations to join while still being polite.
It’s sort of intimidating at first because things fly by fast, but the best way to figure it out is to observe a bit and then jump right in. Look for a hashtag that interests you, use the search bar to find topics related to your niche or find a someone you know. (I’m not the most prolific Twitter user, but you can find me here.) Watch what they do. Reply to people specifically or throw out things that are of interest to you.
2. Use & follow hashtags
- Hashtags provide a loose way of organizing social media conversations so you can follow what others are saying about a particular topic. They are indicated by a pound (#) sign.
- Using appropriate hashtags yourself puts your tweet in front of the people who are most likely to respond. To use a hashtag, simply include it somewhere in your tweet. Just make sure it’s on topic. In other words, don’t include #recipe if your tweet is not about a recipe.
- You can find hashtags by searching a site like hashtags.org, but personally, I just take note of the hashtags the people I’m following are using. Or, I look at the trending hashtags in the left column on desktop or by tapping the search icon (magnifying glass) on mobile.
- Click on a hashtag to see all the tweets in that stream.
3. Schedule Twitter time and your tweets
Like all social media, Twitter can be a major time suck. Schedule Twitter time and stick to it. Otherwise, your time will be whittled away slowly and your productivity will decrease significantly. I think 15 minutes a day is a good place to start.
Related: More of my productivity tips are here.
4. Be strategic
Once you’ve determined when you’ll be on Twitter, determine beforehand what you’ll do once there. How long will you be on? What hashtags will you read? Will you tweet your posts? If so, which ones?
Most of all, get involved with Twitter as much as it fits in with your main online goal.
5. Keep your following / follower ratio under control
If you’re following 10,000 people, but only 5 people are following you, it makes you looks (a) desperate or (b) like a spammer. So, don’t go crazy with following. Typically, this is easily adhered to if you just act like a friend.
6. Be helpful
Offer useful tips or answer questions thoughtfully. Give more than you take. Don’t let your stream be the one that’s all about promoting your own stuff.
7. Grab attention
Ask questions or link to great resources. “How to…” or “10 Tips…” seem to work especially well. Experiment. See what works for you.
8. Want more followers?
You’ll find thousands of words written on this topic. I boil it down to four: be helpful and engaging.
9. Keep ’em short
Short tweets are easier to read and therefore more likely to attract attention (120 characters is good). Also, short tweets are easier to retweet because it leaves enough room for a retweeter to leave their username and/or commentary. However, with the Quote Tweet feature, you can now add your own commentary without so much limitation.
10. Post tweets at the right time
Think about the type of people most likely to appreciate your tweet and think about when they are most likely to be on Twitter. Post your tweets then. For example, if your target audience includes working moms, try posting at lunchtime when they might be on a break or in the evening after kids are in bed.
11. Don’t spam
This goes without saying, but if you want people to trust you, be trustworthy.
12. Know who will see your tweets
Did you know if you start a tweet with the @ symbol, it will only show up in the Twitter timelines of (1) you, (2) the person you’re @-ing and (3) the people who follow both of you? It’s true.
In other words, if you tweet me and your tweet begins with @AmyLynnAndrews, the only people who will see that tweet are you, me and anyone that follows us both.
Of course sometimes this comes in handy, but if you want all of your followers to see your tweet, start with other words or .@ instead.
13. Does your Twitter social sharing button include your username?
If you have a social sharing button on your website so people can easily share your content, make sure your Twitter username gets automatically inserted when someone shares on Twitter.
For example, if you click the Twitter button on this post, you’ll see something like this:
Note how my Twitter username @AmyLynnAndrews is automatically inserted into the tweet? This is important because when you click the “Tweet” button to share it, people on Twitter will know this post came from me and I will be notified you shared it (and then I can say thank you). I see many, many sites on which their Twitter username does not automatically insert and every time I do, a little piece of me dies inside. Check yours!
14. How to find people to follow
- Think of the people you follow elsewhere on the web and start following them on Twitter. Most sites have social media icons in their sidebar or footer that link to their profiles.
- Find a #hashtag where your potential readers might be. Skim through the tweets and start following people that look real and legitimate.
- Find someone that covers a topic similar to yours. Follow their followers. Obviously, these are the people who are interested in what they have to say. Therefore, it’s likely they might be interested in what you have to say too. To find someone’s followers, go to their profile and click the “followers” tab under their cover image. You can easily follow people from there.
15. Take part in Twitter chats
A Twitter chat happens when a group of people with a similar interest (writing, horses, etc.) all hang out on Twitter at a scheduled time. There is usually a predetermined topic and a host who keeps things moving. It’s difficult to explain, but suffice it to say, it’s a good way to find others who have similar interests as you and can be a great networking tool.
There are a lot of chats mentioned in the posts below. Chats come and go faster than you can say boo, so these might not be 100% up to date, but hopefully it will give you a place to start.
- The Ultimate List of Marketing Twitter Chats (raventools.com)
- 16 Top Twitter Chats for Social Media and PR Professionals (socialfresh.com)
- 20 Game-Changing Twitter Chats (socialmediatoday.com)
- 15 Essential Twitter Chats for Social Media Marketers (mashable.com)
- 25 Twitter Chats Every Entrepreneur Must Know (under30ceo.com)
- Twitter Chats for Writers (inkygirl.com)
- Educational Chats on Twitter (cybraryman.com)
I should also note that sometimes Twitter chats are referred to as Twitter parties. Regardless of what they’re called, they’re wild.
16. Embed tweets in your content
Here’s how to embed tweets on your blog or website. And here are some reasons why you might want to do so:
- Add useful content to your posts just like you might add a video. Make it a multi-social-media experience.
- Highlight a fun quote or something funny someone said.
- Use tweets as “proof” or examples of information to enhance your post.
- Pick out key tweets during a twitter party and embed them as part of your roundup post.
- If someone said something nice about you or your product on Twitter, embed their tweet. Not only is it a testimonial for you, it’s also spreading the love for them (encourage readers to follow them!).
And as for your own tweets, make them worthy of embedding!
17. Add tweetables or click-to-tweets to your content
Highlight some of the funny, pithy or helpful quotes in your posts and make them tweetable. That is, make them easy for your readers to tweet.
You can use the Social Warfare plugin (referral link) to do this, but there’s a free tool called ClickToTweet that does something similar. Not only does it make it very easy for your readers to tweet your post, it also allows you to specify what they tweet. They could change it of course, but I would say, most don’t.