By following these 10 Twitter Tips, you’ll learn to craft meaningful tweets that effectively engage and grow your Twitter following.
The Urban Dictionary definition of a Twitter Twat:
A person that has zero followers @ twitter.
A person who tweets far too often.
Don’t let this be you.
1. Select a Good User Name
2. Optimize Your Title Tag
3. Fill Out Your Bio
4. Link It Up
5. Learn the Tweeter’s Lingo
6. Join the Conversation
7. Get Retweeted
8. Track Your Results
9. Get a Good Mobile App
10. Bring Your Twitter Account into the Physical World
1. Select a Good User Name
Select a simple, short and unique user name that reflects who you are and what you do. For companies, I recommend a user name that makes it blatantly clear what your company is. It’s also important to be easy to find. Here are a few good company examples:
- ussoccer (U.S. National Soccer Teams)
- nscaa (National Soccer Coaches Association of America)
- chicagoredstars (Chicago Red Stars)
- bostonbreakers (Boston Breakers)
- mlb (Major League Baseball)
- nfl (National Football League)
- womensprosoccer (Women’s Professional Soccer – *Note: we made a conscious decision not to go with “wps”. We started the Twitter account back in 2008, long before most people had even heard of the league. Just basic awareness in the social media marketplace has been a key part of the overarching strategy. You’ll see we use /womensprosoccer at every single one of our social accounts for this very reason.)
For individuals, I recommend going with a more personalized approach and select a user name that is all about you. Use your company account to spread the company message – use your personal account to be yourself (this is why people are interested in following you in the first place!). If your company message is what you choose to pump out through your individual account, great! But give followers the opportunity to get to know you as a person first, not necessarily as a mouthpiece for your company. Here are a few good personal examples:
- rdpenner (Rob Penner, WPS Communications Director)
- emmahayes1 (Emma Hayes, Head Coach of the Chicago Red Stars)
- brandichastain (Brandi Chastain, WPS player)
- biz (Biz Stone, Co-Founder of Twitter)
- itsbrunson (Jenn Brunson, Digital Media Manager at the Washington Freedom)
Importantly, consider the entire life span of your Twitter account. Will your user name follow you throughout your career, or does it limit you (and your followers) to this one job? Will you disenfranchise your users when you leave the job you’re currently in, or will it stick with you even if you change careers?
For example, Peter Wilt is an original owner of the Chicago Red Stars, and worked at the CEO of the organization for the first three years. Way back when, he started a Twitter account @redstarsCEO. You’ll notice when you click the link, however, there’s nothing there anymore.
When Peter Wilt left his post with the Chicago Red Stars in fall 2009, he changed his Twitter user name to @PeterWilt1 by going to “settings” and changing “username”. All his followers stayed linked with his account, which is of course great, but every external like that had been built to @RedStarsCEO is now dead, and therefore the link equity applied to that URL is dead as well. So, people reading older blog posts that referenced his twitter account (I know I had a few!), or links any place on the Internet that had written a hard link to his Twitter page, now see an error message.
I do think Peter made the right decision to switch his user name, especially in this world of personal brand growth and reputation management, and kudos to Mr. Wilt, as he was one of the very first and most robust users of Twitter – so he did blaze the trail that we’re all learning from today. That said, I’d urge you to think about the big picture and your greater career path before you invest too heavily in a company Twitter username. Food for thought.
In 4 Simple Tips to Help Your Twitter Profile Rank, Matt Leonard (@Twitter_SEO) reminds us that when optimized correctly, a Twitter profile is yet one more URL that anyone can get to rank for their name. Matt says:
- Your Twitter title tag will be this formula:
The key point here is my name. My actual name is written in my Twitter profile as ‘Matt Leonard’, so that’s how it appears in my title tag. I do not call myself ‘MJ Leonard’, ‘MattLeonard’ or ‘Matt_Leonard’. It’s very important to remember that if you’d like to rank for your name, just as with any form of SEO, use the correct anchor text. In this case, it’s your name. You can fix this by logging into your Twitter account and clicking ‘Settings’. From there, change your ‘Name’. Do not change your ‘Username’.
When somebody visits your page, make sure they know who you are and what you do. Your bio is the only place you have to do this. Also, leaving your bio blank or non-descriptive doesn’t encourage people to add you. Check out this graph from Hubspot.com: Can Having a Twitter Bio Get You 8 Times as Many Followers? Looks like a resounding “Yes!” if you ask me.
In another great resource, Five Tips to Optimize Your Twitter Bio, Brent Nau says, “I really think that people overlook the importance of their Twitter bio. There is real opportunity to leverage the information within your bio to gain additional followers.” He recommends:
1. Provide a descriptive one line bio. What I like to do is to look at some of my followers and see who they are following. When in the followers list you can hover over the user name and a pop up will come up with that particular user’s bio. If your bio is not filled out or is not very descriptive, you maybe missing out on potential followers. You have 160 characters, use them all.
2. Add a profile picture. If your Twitter account is not being used for corporate branding, add a picture of yourself. The worst thing you can do is to not add a profile picture.
3. Use your real name. This is really important on two fronts. One is for reputation management, especially if your name IS your brand. Also if you are representing a brand, having a name behind the brand will allow people to connect with the company on a more personal level.
4. Fill out your location. Just do not put “Amongst the strawberry fields”. There are plenty of opportunities to connect with other local Twits for possible offline networking.
5. Place the URL to your current blog, personal site or business. If you do not currently have any one of those, then link to one of your other social network profiles (i.e. LinkedIn). This will allow people to find out more about you, your business, or your interests.
Put links to your Twitter profile everywhere!
- Link to your Twitter page from your Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Digg and LinkedIn accounts.
- Link to you Twitter page from your blog, and in comments that you create elsewhere.
- Put your Twitter URL in your email signture.
- List-Share. Create lists that include your small-time Twitter Friends and big-time Twitter Influencers, then send them each a DM to see if they’ll return the favor. Make sure the lists you ask about are relevant to your Twitter feed. And, don’t be upset if they won’t list you – their lists are totally their prerogative.
In How to Optimize Your Site for Link Building, Ann Smarty (wow, is that your real name?) writes, “Link building takes much time and effort. You might be spending hours daily pursuing links and missing the most important thing: your resource attracts people; why not make the most of that?”
She continues: “Nowadays, I guess everyone has some web space to place your link at: be it a site or a social media profile page. Thus each of your visitors is your potential promoter. Add a well-executed call to action encouraging people to link back and you’ll see your back link number growing.” Her suggestions are:
1. Create cool badges matching your brand design. Link building with the help of badges is not a new tactic but it’s still a highly effective method, especially for user-generated sites.
2. Create a relevant widget. This shouldn’t be something too complex; a small good-looking count-down widget showing how much time before the event is left should be enough.
3. Show how to link to each of your pieces of great content. In other words, include a short piece of text informing the visitor how to link back to it at each page containing some really useful piece of content.
4. Create a separate page listing all possible methods to link to you: text links, badges, banners, widgeds, etc. Clearly state why anyone would want to link back to you. Add your contact details for more information.
Let’s be honest, would my blog post be complete without this video? Yo, Hit Me on Twitter @vandey01.
While there are a plethora of terms and trends on Twitter, I think the most important bits to know are @replies, Retweets (RT) and #hashtags. Here’s the scoop:
- @replies. Anytime you use the @ character in front of somebody’s user name, you’re talking about them and to them at the same time. Note that any time you put somebody else’s @address in your Tweet, they will see it on their homepage.
- Retweet (RT). A Retweet is a repeated tweet. It is sometimes used in a reply to allow everyone to see the original tweet. It is also used to forward a message onto one’s own followers. I personally find RTing one of the biggest forms of flattery on the web today. Keep in mind that by writing Tweets that others will find interesting, you’ll increase your chances of being retweeted, and perhaps grow your Twitter followers in the process.
- #Hashtags. This is a community-driven practice of tagging an individual tweet by using a hash in front of the tag. Example: Putting #chicagoredstars in a tweet about the Chicago Red Stars. Hashtags allow the community to easily stream a particular subject. My suggestion is to Tweet about your passions in life and #hashtag them. Quality content coupled with an easy way to find it never fails. If others enjoy your content, they’ll add you. You can also join the conversation with others in the Twitosphere by using a trending #hashtag in your Tweet.
After you’ve conquered those three, check out this dictionary with more fun and useful Twitter terms. Mostly, these are terms that come up often when tweeting or when reading a blog post or article about Twitter. They are part of the everyday jargon used on Twitter. Here are a few of my faves:
- De-Friend. This is a common social networking term referring to the act of taking someone off of your friends list. De-Follow is a Twitter-specific version.
- Dweet. A tweet sent while drunk.
- Mistweet. Accidentally sending a tweet to the wrong person or wishing you didn’t send a particular tweet. Dweets can often become Mistweets.
- Nudge. An action reminding a user to update their status. You can only do this to someone who follows you and who has a device registered with Twitter.
- Tweeple. Twitter users.
- Tweeps. Twitter followers who are your friends on multiple social networks. They are your social network peeps or posse.
- Tweet. A message sent via Twitter.
In addition to the common terms in the Twitter glossary, it is also relatively common to throw a “Tw” in front of just about anything when it has something to do with Twitter. If you are tweeting while walking, you are “twalking.” And if you have a sweetheart on Twitter they are your “tweetheart.”
Also, we frequently see that people use instant messaging abbreviations to help fit a tweet into the 140 character max. If you need to brush up, check out this helpful guide to IM acronyms. My personal faves:
- ASAP: As Soon As Possible
- B4N: Bye For Now
- BRB: Be Right Back
- BTW: By The Way
- GMTA: Great Minds Think Alike
- IMO In My Opinion
- INALB: I’m Not A Lawyer But
- KIT: Keep In Touch
- LOL: Laughing Out Loud
- TMI: Too Much Info
- ROTFLMAO: Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Ass Off
- TY: Thank You
I was surfing around the Internet and found this guy, Rich Brooks (how is it that online marketing people seem to have the coolest names?!). He’s recently put together a few videos about Twitter:
- Getting Started on Twitter
- How to Find and Follow People on Twitter and
- How to Gain Followers on Twitter
In this video, he takes it a step further with a video on how to engage people on Twitter one-on-one by using replies, direct messages and retweets. Good stuff, Rich.
Another way to engage in conversation is finding & following other Tweeps in your local community. Check out this article 9 Ways to Find Twitter Users in Your Town. This is a great resource for growing your local Twitter community, and may in effect grow your Twitter following – often times the people you’re looking for are looking for you too!
According to Pete Cashmore’s How to Get ReTweeted, Retweets tend to contain a link. He explains – 56.69% of retweets contain a link versus 18.96% of normal tweets. So, retweets are being used to share content from around the web. Tweets containing good links get retweeted more often that Tweets that don’t.
Dan Zarella is the self-proclaimed (and well-deserved) “viral marketing scientist”. In The Science of ReTweets he says, “When we look at the most ReTweetable users we find a few common threads that lead me to believe that the content of Tweets is far more important to the number of ReTweets it will get than the user who originally posted it.”
He analyzed the semantic content of highly-Retweeted tweets, and found that a few trends became apparent:
- Calls to action (as in: “please ReTweet”), while they might sound cheesy, work very well to get ReTweets.
- Timely content gets ReTweeted a lot.
- Freebies are popular.
- Self-reference (Tweeting about Twitter) works.
- Lists are huge.
- People like to ReTweet blog posts.
Links can include photos, videos, or other good URLs. I find photos to be easy, quick and, well… awesome :-) Here are some great sites to use to share Photos on Twitter:
The Twitter community also loves unique contests and interesting campaigns, and when combined with the semantic content cues above, you might imagine the potential for substantial Tweet distribution. David Spark (@dspark) writes, 10 Creative Contests Powered by Social Media. He writes, “Now that social media is in vogue, there’s no reason to limit a content submission to just a one-way promotional mailing list. Social media contests are multi-directional — they allow for increased customer engagement and content generation.” Visit his blog post to see ten examples of companies that ran social media-enabled contests, each successfully achieving a different goal.
The big question is: Does Twitter really pay off in terms of ROI? Or is it just another time-waster? Most people I talk to who tweet regularly have no idea of whether their sites get increased traffic as a result of using Twitter, or if their main business objectives are being met (ticket sales, newsletter sign-ups… whatever your conversion goals are). And it’s not like this problem of ROI tracking is unique to Twitter. So I’m glad to share a few resources you can use to measure the value of your Twitter account.
1. Keep track of various metrics using a weekly Excel spreadsheet.
- How many followers do you have?
- How many lists are you on?
- How many referrals are you getting from Twitter to your website and/or specific landing pages that you think are important? (You can use Google Analytics or whatever other analytics package you have on your site for this.)
2. Measure the success of your #hashtags and keyterms using these tools.
3. Use a link-shortening service that details your click summary. Here is a great list of URL shortening services, and here are my favorites:
- Bit.ly – Shorten, share and track your links
- Tiny URL – Making long URLs usable
- Snip URL – Snippety Snip Snip
I love Twitter. There’s no secret there. While I’m on the go (which seems to be most times) I use my Iphone to Tweet…. But it hasn’t always been this way. I adopted Twitter early in 2008, but was working with an old school Motorola Razr… yeah, you know it – the pink one ;-) until July 2009.
When i got my iPhone, I first downloaded TweetDeck, a free application that shows you everything you want to see at once, so you can stay organized and up to date. I really thought it was great. But then I found Twittelator, and for $4.99, I think Twittelator Pro is the most powerful twitter client for your iPhone/Touch that you can download.
I also use iTweetReply, a $.99 downlaod that pushes Tweets to my @address directly to my iPhone just like a text message. It’s a great app, especially when I’m at events, because people who don’t have my cell phone number can easily get in touch with me. But iTweetReply certainly has limitations so unless you’re using Twitter as a text messaging device like I am, I’d steer clear.
I encourage you to take the time to find the application that fits your lifestyle and time commitment to Twitter. Here’s a list of Twitter apps that you might find useful. Regardless of which one you select, having Twitter access at your fingertips via a mobile device makes the experience both succinct and fun!
LOVE this suggestion from Kevin Rosen: Bring your twitter account into the physical world. He says, “Every time I give a talk, speak on a panel, shoot a podcast, present slides, or hand out business cards, I figure out a way to broadcast or display my twitter account.” True dat, Kev.