10 Traits of Highly Effective Twitter Users

highly-effective-twitter-users.jpgIn this post Mark Hayward (follow @mark_hayward) provides some habits of effective Twitter users that beginners can use to help expand their network. If you have other “effective Twitter user traits” for beginners, please feel free to put them in the comments.

Do you think that people who are able to successfully expand their network using Twitter share any habits or common traits?

If you had asked me six or seven months ago, “What is the value of Twitter?” I probably would have responded with something to the effect of, “Itís a great way to let people know when you are making coffee or sitting in traffic.”

However, after quite a few months of participating, networking, and most importantly, learning, I am now a firm believer that when used properly Twitter can be an extremely powerful addition to a comprehensive social media strategy.

For the newbie Twitter user it can be difficult to know where to begin or how to constructively increase the number of followers, and as such, I drafted this post with the beginner in mind. People like you and me who are somewhere between ëjust creating a profileí and a couple hundred followers.

Also, if you are like me, I am assuming that you want to be an active participant and wish to grow your network for collaborative or creative opportunities. Specifically, you would like to use Twitter as an online tool to connect with people all over the world.

With the above in mind, and until someone (Google, Chris Brogan, YOU?) creates an algorithm that will quantify “effective Twitter users,” my analysis is based on watching the Tweeting habits of regular users and not only the elite “Twitterati.”

10 Traits of Highly Effective Twitter Users

So, subjective as it may be, my observations over the past couple of months show that there are some common characteristics amongst those who seem to be effective users of this service and they are as follows:

  • Be welcoming & friendly – say hello to your new followers or folks that you would like to get to know.

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  • Engage people – ask questions and respond to queries that interest you.

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  • Be humorous – funny Tweets really help to break up the timeline.

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  • Inform – provide useful information and news items.

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  • Regular time – tweet at a regular time and in a consistent voice.

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  • Monitor self-promotion – it is fine to promote your projects and work, but nobody likes to be spammed all day .

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  • Promote others – “retweet” liberally and highlight good work.

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  • Link in post – link to other Twitter users that you would like to connect with in blog posts.
  • Listen – there’s no need to dominate the conversation all the time, so spend some time just reading what others are saying/Tweeting.
  • Be human – not always obvious but most important, being a “real” person is probably the most important trait of any effective Twitter user.

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How about you? Have you noticed any traits or habits of effective Twitter users? What are they?

Comments

  • January 7, 2009

    humour’s a big pull card and also the hardest one to nail without scaring away more serious followers.

  • January 7, 2009
    Brian Ashenfelter
    @bashen

    I think this falls under the “Be human” tip but I like following people who show some humility. That is, I don’t want to hear how amazing you are all the time.

  • January 7, 2009

    This is an excellent list. I would add “encourage others.” For example, if someone in your group writes that they are having a bad day or that they got phished, write and let them know you are supporting them and encouraging them. Let them know that they are not alone, even in cyberspace. :)

  • January 7, 2009

    The most important thing to me is that I have conversations with those I’m following/who are following me. So, someone who talks to you — that’s an effective Twitter user — in my opinion.

  • January 7, 2009

    Hi darren love the blog
    you say on number two to engage and respond to subjects that Intrest you

    you are Interested in photography and you have a blog on that

    a couple months before Christmas I sent you a Gadget Show video on a new camera because you would be Interested in It

    thats what your intrested in

    to this day I haven’t had a thanks a response anything and its not the first time I have tweeted you say love your post re tweeted some of them

    Now I may not be as clued up on blogging and social media as you

    but that to me doesn’t sound like your preaching what your telling

    I have also tweeted four times that I have a problem with what your saying and what your doing and no response from you

    I don’t have any problem with that hell I wont do it again, but what I dont like is people who say do what I say not what I do

    all it takes is to be personal able as you say

  • January 7, 2009

    Great tips, Mark.

    I’d add monitor search.twitter.com for mentions of your name/brands. When you’ve got a lot of followers all tweeting at once then some tweets can get missed. RSS and Google Reader is excellent for this.

  • January 7, 2009

    Well said Darren….. I don’t like so much ‘automatic’ things. Real conversation is necessary some times.

  • January 7, 2009

    Successful twitter users show a genuine interest in helping others. It’s very similar to live networking in that the most interesting people are those who show the most interest in what others have to say. Blasting people everyday on Twitter with your new e-book or something else your selling to line your pocket is a great way to annoy people. Would you show up to a networking event or sales appointment and promote your product the whole time? Well, you could, but it would not be very productive. The more successful approach is to get to know others, ask questions and build genuine relationships.

  • January 7, 2009

    I love especially those Twitter users who write about a niche (in my case about castles) and who articulate in a friendly way even though they disagree with something.

  • January 7, 2009

    Be REAL! We can tell when you are just tweeting what you want others to see and not the real you. I like following those who show their true self. Also, what I love about twitter is if you’re having a bad day, need some feedback , or met a goal everyone is there to cheer you on. Excellent list, it’s really hard to explain twitter and you’re doing a great job!

  • January 7, 2009

    @David Lee Venters maybe something was wrong with the way you approached Darren, or maybe he just missed your attempts to contact him. He’s a busy guy. I use Twitter, e-mail and Linkedin all the time as a tool to get in touch with people, schedule interviews etc. Not all of my attempts to connect are replied to. I just stay politely persistent and have found great success in this method. Hope this helps you out.

  • January 7, 2009

    Another key trait of effective Twitter users is that they choose carefully who to follow. So many Twitter users automatically follow anyone who follows them.

    In my blog post today, I discuss the point of diminishing returns–the point at which you’re following so many people that you cannot keep track of them all and risk losing valuable information.

  • January 7, 2009

    I am not surprised a man named Darren is smart enough to write this :) Great job DR

  • January 7, 2009

    Great list, I love the in-line examples. I’d add another tip: reply to people, and more importantly reply to people who reply to you. You don’t want your followers to feel ignored.

  • January 7, 2009

    I think the best Twitter users I follow are generous and transparent. For one, I’m proud that most Twitter users I know Tweet under their own, real name (or it’s in their profile). This evolution away from anonymity is good for conversation on the web because it helps make us more real and less petty.

    Also, I love how Twitter is evolving conversation on the web to be less image-concious in regards to what people can and should talk about and more real.

  • January 7, 2009

    This post can also be used as guidelines for twittering. Liked it ;-)

  • January 7, 2009

    Cool list for the beginner. Just be yourself and it will work out the way it should.

  • January 7, 2009

    Great list with some excellent examples.

  • January 7, 2009

    Great post Mark! I’m not so sure about tweeting at a regular time though, like when people say “Good morning” every morning. It’s not the most useful Tweet to read and given the time differences around the world, you can feel a little excluded (Are they only talking to people in their country? You can’t really reply back saying “Good morning” when you’re about to go get your dinner! :) ).

    There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, I just don’t think it’s one of the best traits either. All up to personal opinion I suppose :) (Though if they can vary the greeting and let us know something interesting about the day ahead of them, I’m all for that! That’s just good conversation.)

    But on the other hand, I completely understand saying “Good night,” when you’ve been talking to a few people because it lets them know you’re going and won’t be replying until the next day.

  • January 7, 2009

    This is kind of following what Diane said but I’d add Be Responsive. If you can answer a question, answer it. If they’re having an issue you can help with, let them know. If a comment makes you laugh, reply to it. People love to feel heard.

    Tracy

  • January 7, 2009

    The twitter users that impress me the most are the ones that seem to have a genuine interest in others.

    I think the worst habit I’ve seen in Twitter users are the ones that assume that you know nothing and want to step in and educate you. It doesn’t offend me but it does give me a hearty laugh and makes me think they are anything but the authority they seem to think they are.

  • January 7, 2009

    Great list. I would just add a note of caution to the first item though. I think it’s best to welcome/thank new followers via a direct message, or perhaps an occasional general message (‘thanks to everyone who has signed up to follow me recently’). I recently unfollowed one person who sent @ reply messages welcoming all his new followers, with the result that over half the updates I received from him were welcome messages.

  • January 7, 2009

    This list is a great reference for new Twitter users or anyone that wants to understand how to grow their network of followers responsibly. I think the Twitter users that get the most out of the service use it as a networking tool. I hope that Twitter will continue to evolve as the “dialogue” of the Internet.

  • January 7, 2009

    As it has been pointed out, the human touch works. I have been on twitter going on 2 years this year, and I am always amazed at those who take the time to say hello and talk to me. Maybe because I always make an effort to check out the blogs and tweets of all those who want to follow me. I never promote myself at all and because of that I think that is why some people have been more curious to find out more about what makes me tick so they have been reading my blogs. I know humor works so I tend to add a daily funny so we can all laugh together. I consider my twitter community my extend family! However, I am not on twitter as a brand or selling anything. I am on twitter just as an observer. Thank you for sharing!

  • January 7, 2009

    A very practical read. For those of us really trying to increase the number of followers we currently have, this is great stuff! :) Thanks for the tips.

  • January 7, 2009

    While I think it’s important to be friendly and welcoming, just saying “welcome and thanks to my new followers” is fairly impersonal, even if it’s not an autoresponse. I sometimes DM new followers, but only if I have something to add to “thanks for following.” For example, the last time I thanked a new follower by DM, I also commented on a previous tweet of his.

    And, while I think it’s a good idea to tweet in a fairly consistent voice (since your personality is fairly consistent, after all), I don’t see any particular benefit to tweeting at a consistent time of day.

    Finally, your example tweet (“Good morning!”) doesn’t add anything to the conversation. It reminds me of the kinds of banal tweets satirized in Twitter Whore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALbH63Ali9U).

  • January 7, 2009

    Excellent list of tips. I believe most new tweeple would regard some of the tips as common sense, but it is always good to get those in writing in order to check your actual performance against your perceived common-sense ;-)

  • January 7, 2009

    It’s like the old adage “all things in moderation”-there is a good balance between Twitter and other avenues to network like Linked In. One great way to use Twitter is to stay connected “real time” with those who you engage and connect with on through other networks like Linked In. My two cents-feel free to give me change!

  • January 7, 2009

    I agree with Roger’s comment. I’d suggest reading more than a few posts from anyone who’s following you before you decide to follow him/her. Lots of folks are just looking to increase their follower #s — to be effective, I think Twitter users have to keep the proper signal-to-noise ratio. I’m following more folks than I thought I would in 2008 (and I’m about to embark on a quarterly housecleaning exercise), but how anyone truly “follows” 15,000 people is beyond me. 2009 Prediction: I think there’s gonna be a “flight to quality” later this year.

  • January 7, 2009

    In general I agree with what you’ve written. But, I ask you to explain the popularity of people on twitter like: iJustine, JasonCalacanis, Tim Ferris, Shaq, and Scoble? They don’t follow any of the rules above.

  • January 7, 2009

    Hola

    good guide am not ass good user of twitter but little by little am improving in followers that depart whit me of course not in real life but in twitter,.

  • January 7, 2009

    I’m new to social media, although I have building websites for many years. Because I am not quit sure how it all works, I ask other people questions about what works for them and how they utilize social media best. You may be surprised how many people are willing to give generously of their time and knowledge, when you ask for it.

  • January 7, 2009

    Great beginner tips! And, yes, conveying emotions over Twitter is something short of amazing- I expressed the loss of my 14 year old dog and had so many people respond, from links to pet grieving sites to totally understanding my loss-it made me feel surrounded by lots of friends, virtually.

    search.twitter.com, tweetbeep.com, tweetscan.com- all great tools to monitor your company, your brand or your competitors. I won’t go into all the other Twitter clients out there as there is a plethora of them, some better than others, but when you factor in that all this is “free” for now, Twitter & Co. is certainly a Social Media force to be reckoned with.

  • January 7, 2009

    Aploogies on previous post as I incorrectly entered my Twitter ID

  • January 7, 2009

    Here’s a couple of points I wish everyone would consider before sending that @reply tweet:

    Does this @reply tweet benefit all my followers or just the person I’m responding to?
    If you have 100 followers, there’s every chance that your @reply will make little sense to 99 of them. Repeat this behavior multiple times a day, every day of the week, and you end up alienating 99% of your followers. If your @reply has no value for anyone other than the person you’re responding to, send a direct message instead.

    Can I rewrite this @reply so that it makes contextual sense for all my followers rather than just the person I’m responding to?
    If your @reply does have some value to your other followers, consider rewriting it so that there’s enough contextual information to make sense. For example, many twitter users will ask questions of their followers. A response without reference to the original question (which most of your followers won’t have seen) is essentially meaningless, so try to incorporate that into your tweet.

    Yeah, one could theoretically follow the links to the person you’re replying to in order to hunt down the original question, but given that most internet users prefer to follow the path of least resistance, the chances that they’ll do so is pretty remote.

    If you can’t incorporate any contextual information from the original tweet you’re responding to, then consider retweeting it.

    For example, imagine if I’d posted the following:
    @friend Probably, but I think Left 4 Dead deserves to.

    Doesn’t make much sense, does it? I mentioned the name of a video game, but that’s as much as my followers would be able to determine. They could click my friend’s link in an attempt to find the question, but that’s time consuming and problematic. If my friend asks many questions of their followers, attempting to work out which one I responded to would be difficult. It might even be buried a fair way down their timeline.

    What question did they actually ask me?
    @me Do you think GTA4 will win Spike TV’s Game of the Year?

    Aha! My theoretical response makes some sense now, but as you can see it was missing all the information required for it to make sense to my followed.

    This is response I actually posted:
    @friend GTA IV or Gears of War 2 will probably win Game of the Year, although my personal favorites are Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3.

    As you can see, my friend got the response they were looking for and all my other followers got a tweet that feels relevant to them and also makes perfect contextual sense.

    So, to summarize: Tweak your tweets so that they make sense to all your followers. If you can’t, send a direct message instead.

  • January 7, 2009

    Excellent outline. I would add one more tip — follow people who choose to follow you. In practice it creates community and connections.

  • January 7, 2009

    twitter has been great for me to connect and find people within the industry. I have also noticed that the more I contribute in a positive way….reply, reply, reply. the more followers I have but also the more people ask me questions pertaining to the industry of weddings

  • January 7, 2009

    Useful checklist! To a beginner with a paltry few dozen tweets only, list raises questions of a “how do I do that” as well as “why would I do that” nature.

  • January 7, 2009

    As someone who’s so far primarily a follower, I’d add that good users don’t overtweet. I get some people’s Twitters on my phone (which is not a Blackberry or the like) and just had to change someone I follow to web only, which I rarely look at, because of what I’m calling twitarrhea…

  • January 7, 2009

    I’m constantly amazed how nice, forthcoming and informative most of the people I have met on twitter are. It’s a mature group of people who (usually) respect and appreciate diversity. I’ve made some fantastic friends and have met and “spoken” with and learned from people with whom I would have never had the opportunity to otherwise. If you give as much as you take, then it will eventually all fall into place. Thanks for the opportunity to share on this subject. It’s very interesting and informative, especially for the beginner.

  • January 7, 2009

    I’d add to this “Don’t Twit all PC-like just because you don’t want to offend anyone.” That is the ultimate in boredomville. People seem to like to “collect” Followers just for the sake of having a big number, but in my opinion, I’d rather have 5 good followers than 500 that aren’t even aware their following me.

  • January 7, 2009

    I like the point on being human. The people I love following are the ones who just tweet about what they are thinking – plus a bit of humour always goes down well!

  • January 7, 2009

    Good tips Mark. “Effective” always depends on what your goals for using Twitter actually are – for instance, some people may not really care if anyone follow them.

  • January 7, 2009

    This is a good post. I think it gets at the heart of what Twitter is about. There are always those who take some of the traits to the extreme while completely leaving some of the others out. I do agree though that people have their own goals for using Twitter. These tips present the “ideal” usage, but not everyone cares about the conversation or the connection. It just depends on what they are after.

  • January 7, 2009

    Actually, what makes an effective Twitter user is also someone that filters.

    I follow more people that I can keep up with… so when twhirl sends out the notifications, I quickly scan them for things that are interesting to me, when I have time. I also have a few search pages bookmarked with which I monitor tweets regarding certain topics.

    I think these are very important for Twitter effectiveness.

  • January 7, 2009

    What you outline here is a strategy to accumulate followers, which is fine if that’s your goal.

    I personally try and be a decent human being, and build a network based on integrity and value. I have a small network but it is full of people who share similar interests to me and is full of inspiring smart people I can learn from.

    If I read a twitter stream and all I see is the person is mainly just being “friendly” and engaging in meaningless chit chat I’m highly unlikely to follow them.

  • January 7, 2009

    Great information, Mark. I shared it with some friends that are new to Twitter.

    I’m amazed at the friends I’ve made and the learning that takes place on Twitter! It has quickly become my fav social media. I like the ease of communication/interaction, speed, AND the challenge of condensing what I have to say. To some degree, it will be what you make it.

  • January 7, 2009

    Hi Mark: These are all excellent points. I try to mix up my tweets with sharing links I think others will find valuable, as well as links that are just funny (because we all need a laughter break once in awhile), answer questions, ask questions, retweet interesting tweets, and share a little about myself so that others can get to know me as a person. I also send out one link a day promoting my blog or one of my squidoo lens (because yes, twitter is not only a great way to find information and meet people, it’s also a marketing tool). Thank you for including one of my tweets in this post :-)

  • January 7, 2009

    Be helpful. Reach out to others having problems you can solve and help them.

  • January 7, 2009

    Thanks Mark for some great insights.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Twitter is a blend of the mundane and the profound and the skill is to find the right mix.

  • January 7, 2009

    Great list! Although seemingly nobrainers, I hadn’t even thought of half of them. Will do an overhaul of my twitter use :)

    Susanne
    blog: http://www.fracasnoir.com

  • January 7, 2009

    Great tips! I also think it’s important to interact with everyone; if someone is following you, follow them back. Strike up a conversation with them.

    I love tweeting with everyone. I’ve made a lot of friends just from the few months I’ve been using Twitter.

  • January 7, 2009

    I’ve found that asking, “who would win in a fight between a choo-choo train and [insert name of superhero]?” works.

  • January 7, 2009

    Funky Tips! Did you get my twit when I wished for a Medusa head to kill Server 500 errors? YOU DIDN’T? sob sob lol

    I love your qoool tips by the way! I caught a few giggles myself reading twits from people I follow. I just hope I don’t get the Twit Addict Disease!

  • January 7, 2009

    Thank you! I have been struggling (as silly as that may sound) to get my bearings with Twitter. It seems that many people follow without any attempt to communicate. Your post puts it into a better perspective.

  • January 7, 2009

    The comments were as helpful as the post. I follow fellow farmers & gardeners, and you. That’s my niche. I agree with “Bad Parent” I would rather have 5 quality than 500. For some tweeters it is a numbers game but I find you loose a great deal of quality to feed an ego in need of popularity.

  • January 7, 2009

    Great post!! I think DM’ing someone who follows you pointing out somehting they have tweeted about it a great way to engage a new follower.

  • January 7, 2009

    Great guidelines for effective Tweeting.

    Especially appreciate the examples.

    Thanks a bunch,

  • January 7, 2009

    This post is a great guideline for new twitter users (and those that may not get it). All your points are right on the money for new tweeters to look out for.

    One other thing I’d like to say is tweet in moderation. Personally I get off put when I read 20 updates from one person in 5 minutes.

  • January 7, 2009

    Hey, this is great information. For a new Tweeter, I really appreciate the pointers. Some may appear obvious to the Tweeting-pros, but don’t let that stop you. You underestimate yourselves as the Twitter Community. The boisterousness and camaraderie that is inherent to this evolving social network can appear intimidating to some new SMers and keep them in their shells from performing the obvious.

    Twitter is growing into a very unique life form. There are so many people communicating in a such a new conduit that Twitter servers can barely handle us. Thanks for the post.

  • January 7, 2009
    Alexis Perrier
    @alexip

    Hi
    Thanks for the great post
    Other elements that may be useful to address

    - how do you find people to follow ? That’s maybe the way people will check out your twitter account

    - tweet visibility. Twitter being stream like if you tweet by burst, all your tweets share the same window of visibility. If you tweet the same number of tweets but spread out over a few hours, each tweet has its own unique window of visibility

  • January 7, 2009

    Chad

    Darren is on my list I read everything he does hes brilliant I re tweet his stuff I tell others about him

    I sent him a private tweet it was polite

    yes he could have been busy but I have another person on my list Willie Crawford who replies , John Reese as well both very busy guys

    and if Darren’s so busy isnt that what twitters about so you can connect with your readers

  • January 8, 2009

    I’ve noticed that effective Twitter users are real people, not companies with logos as avatars. Not that that’s bad. If you want to shout – use a company’s personality. But if you want to converse, be real, be human.

  • January 8, 2009

    “Monitor self-promotion – it is fine to promote your projects and work, but nobody likes to be spammed all day .”

    I could not agree more. I had to unfollow a few people because, at times, my entire timeline was filled with spam. It becomes tedious to read.

  • January 8, 2009

    This is all great advice. It is tempting to many business and marketing types to think of Twitter as a publishing platform more than a genuine human interaction.

    It’s easy to go too far in the other direction, though. If your religious or political beliefs are something you wouldn’t discuss with your boss (or her boss), you should think twice before tweeting about them. Any publicly available words that come from your keyboard are an important part of your brand.

  • January 8, 2009

    Hmm, I wonder if leaving comments on posts like this helps?~

  • January 8, 2009

    such a wonderful post and I wa sso impressed by the responses as well. I actually followed a couple of people here based on their replies.

    I agree that quality is more important than quality and i am so happy to find that many of the people who are following me are like minded souls.

    Love Twitter and look forward to meeting more of you!

  • January 9, 2009

    We are new to twitter! The tips mentioned above are very helpful. T
    Thank you for providing them!

  • January 9, 2009

    Thanks -these are great tips and comments. Fairly new to Twitter (less than 2 months) I’ve been very careful with my tweets and kept them informational but perhaps too impersonal. My main reason for being on Twitter is promoting my business.

    I’ve been wondering about letting a little more ‘me’ come through my tweets (instead of keeping it all biz), and I think after reading this that I will. And I will work much harder at engaging my tweeps more -I thought that I didn’t want to bother them… but I suppose that is why they are following me (and why I’m following them)!

  • January 12, 2009

    Great guidelines!
    I totally agree with Mark, regarding @ replies It is okay to use them some of the time, but I believe that they should be used sparingly. I will not follow someone if their timeline is clogged with nothing but replies to their followers. It is like listening to half of a conversation, and I rarely find them interesting or useful. I recently unfollowed one person because of this. I had to go through several pages of tweets before I could find one that wasn’t a reply. It is better to use direct messages.

  • January 15, 2009

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so this may have already been mentioned, but I’d suggest helping others. Most of my biggest “connections” have been from answering a question for someone or helping them out of a jam. It could be a question about code, them asking for someone to check a site design, etc. If someone asks a question that you know the answer to, take then 10 seconds to respond. It could open up a lot of doors for you.

  • January 15, 2009

    Totally second Mark | Retroblique
    <>
    Lot of tweets are like private conversations that don’t add value to the stream. Take that off line or DM. Yes it take a little more effort but you will attract more followers with more engagement.
    I like to attract local people so tweeting about the Philadelphia Eagles is a timely method. I also search for local terms and monitor the conversation for people that are interesting to me.
    After I follow someone new I will wait for a tweet by them that I can answer or re tweet. That always gets a positive response, and then the conversation is running.

  • March 30, 2009

    Try to make the connection even though Twitter can be very time consuming.

  • April 23, 2009

    Good post, couldn’t agree more. It’s all about keeping it real and just having fun.

  • November 16, 2009

    Wow! This is refreshing :) I have been sad these past few days because I’m trying very hard to see what will work in tweeter. When I read your article it gets me back to the basic. Do not forget to be human.:)

  • August 26, 2010

    Thanks for the rundown, i think engaging your followers is definitely the key!

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