How To Make Any Tweet Worth Following

By Darya Pino of Summer Tomato. Follow her @summertomato.

Everyone’s favorite example of how NOT to use Twitter is to tweet what you ate for breakfast. But even mundane tasks like eating can inspire people to follow if you tweet creatively. Ultimately it is not the subject of your tweet that makes you worth following, it is how your message connects with readers. Eat interesting food, eat for interesting reasons, or teach people something fascinating about food and suddenly everyone has a reason to care about your breakfast.

The key is communicating something that transcends the subject of your tweet and creates value for your followers. If you can do this then what you tweet about hardly matters, because you will regularly engage your readers and promote your personal brand.

Be Descriptive

I’ve tweeted what I ate for breakfast (and lunch, snack, dinner and everything in between) every single day since December 11, 2008. When I was new to Twitter my instinct was to use it as a food diary microblog so my regular blog readers could easily follow my eating habits (Summer Tomato is a blog about healthy eating).

Since then I have learned better-Twitter is an amazingly powerful tool to make connections and build your network. But I have also discovered my daily “tweats” can be an effective way to engage my followers and drive readership to my blog.

After over 5 months of observing the responses to my tweats it is clear that the better I describe my meals and how they taste, the more people reply expressing enthusiasm, envy or curiosity. For example, “chicken and chard soup” did not get as strong a response as “Moroccan vegetable tagine with spiced couscous and toasted almonds. Yum!” Tantalizing tweats inspire people to ask for recipes or more details about my meals, which can send fresh traffic to old blog posts or be translated into future posts.

Engaging tweets that enable you to interact with your followers is what Twitter is all about, and is valuable even if your tweet doesn’t have a direct link to your website. Now I receive regular following recommendations because of my “delicious” and “inspiring” tweets.

Be Interesting

Someone I follow (@twitterbo) once posted the question, “What is the most interesting thing you have ever eaten?” I replied immediately with “The most interesting thing I’ve eaten? Shark’s lips.” (Notice how I repeat the question so my followers can track the conversation?)

This reply sparked several minutes of vibrant twitversations with various people about food, travels and ecological concerns. The people I interacted with as a result of this tweet may not remember the details of our communication, but it is likely they went away with the general impression that I’m an interesting person worth following and recommending.

In other words, this single tweet strengthened my network.

Be Useful

My ultimate goal on Twitter is to build my authority as a healthy eating expert, and the first step is making sure I sound like one. Adding educational tips to your tweets is an effective way to turn a boring blurb into a valuable tweet.

For example: “Oatmeal for breakfast. Whole grains improve insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol & reduce hunger later in the day.”

Not only does this tweet convey my personal eating habits, it also suggests that you can improve your own health and possibly lose weight if you choose certain foods.

Turning simple tweets into educational tips makes them useful to your readers and increases your likelihood of being retweeted. (Hint: Be sure to leave enough characters for a RT = [username character #] + 4.)

Think Outside the Tweet

You can further expand the impact of your tweets by optimizing with third party applications. A few weeks after I began “tweating” I discovered a service called FoodFeed, which allows me to target all my meal tweats with a reply to @having. This sends my post into both my Twitter stream and a unique RSS feed hosted on the FoodFeed website. The beauty of this service is that I can use the FoodFeed RSS to directly publish my tweating diary onto my blog. Filtering the noise of extraneous Twitter conversations thus enables me to better fulfill my original goal of sharing my eating habits with readers.

If you do not want your every bite displayed on Twitter but would still like to keep a microblog food diary, FoodFeed can be updated using direct messages. I use this DM function occasionally to keep my public Twitter stream focused and uncluttered. There are, after all, only so many interesting ways to tweet about oatmeal.

Conclusion

Twitter is a relatively new means of communication and there are still no unbreakable rules. People like to eat, so why would you assume tweets about food have to be boring? What kills your readers’ attention is not food itself, but the fact that we when sit at our computers we want to learn something about life, not about your life. Great tweets are not defined by their subject, but by how they engage your followers.

Comments

  • May 28, 2009

    We’re new @ Twitter, and your blog is helping us a lot.
    Thank you, and greetings from Brazil!

  • May 28, 2009

    Great tips! I think sometimes people get a comfort zone on Twitter, to the point that it’s even expected for them not to have anything outstanding. So why pay attention to them after awhile? I’ll be using these points, because I like many people certainly are guilty of the ‘comfort’ of twitter and forgetting the whole ‘network’ part of it.

  • May 28, 2009

    Great post, Darya! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: You can tweet about, well, just about anything, as long as you’re able to connect with people while doing so.

    I find your “twEats” to be fantastic, btw. I’m really a foodie at heart, and love getting new ideas for meal time.

    Cheers!

  • May 28, 2009

    Thanks for the great info! That’s such a great point you make about adding educational tips to what you ate – it totally makes it something different (and interesting) than the boring “I just ate cereal” tweets!

  • May 28, 2009

    Thanks for the great tips @summertomato. It may take me some time to process them into tweets for something other than food, but I’ll work on it.

  • May 28, 2009

    It is indeed a good article on using Twitter. I have always believed in bringing VALUE to readers, and sharing RELATIONSHIPS has become far more valuable since reading Joel Comm’s book “Twitter Power.” That book really describes the value of a faithful following, and it is indeed based upon being human and sharing events in all Tweets.

    Thanks for the inspiration. :-)

  • May 28, 2009

    The key to any social network is engagement. Your post is dead on- sure, tweet about food! Blog about your day, but tell me how it can relate to my day, too. Even the most irrelevant topics can be interesting and informative, it’s the presentation that counts.

  • May 28, 2009

    Thank you for the post, I can’t have my entire mind in this comment while i see the final of the champion’s league, but here I go.

    I love this pots because you say something really interesting because to have a good reader or in this case followers it’s by mean of the good post or tweets you do. That the base because it’s not normal that user follower someone because he don’t say a thing. Interest it’s for something.

    Good tips you have give thank you.

  • May 28, 2009

    Thanks for your feedback everyone!

    @Jillian I have met so many wonderful people on the subject of food, both foodies and non-foodies =)

    @Alison It really doesn’t take much time, just a few extra seconds of thinking before hitting “send.” Just stop and ask yourself what your readers will get from your tweet and what you want them to get from it.

  • May 29, 2009

    wow – ironically, a huge post for a service that limits you to 140 characters. I’m a food blogger and I eat out alot, so my tweets are generally food related and believe it or not, people or follow my stuff expect me to tweet food, and rightly so, foodies follow me.

    And believe it or not, I do tweet my breakfast, and so do the rest of my followers and people whom I follow because that’s what we do: we talk about food, all the time.

    I should also mention that we twitpic photographs of what we eat as well – also part of what foodbloggers do. ultimately, a mundane task is not mundane, it really depends on what kind of niche area it is. Same can be said of blogs i suppose, think about it, a blog giving advice/talks about how to tweet. Niche area my friend, niche area.

  • May 31, 2009

    Hey Darren,

    This is good stuff. I am new to twitter, just trying to find my way around. To me it seems like most people are just shooting posts to advertise something, but isn’t this more of a social connection to build relationships?

    My understanding is that you should create an audience who trust you and look for your tweets, then they will pay attention more to your recommendations… right?

    Just a thought!

    Godfrey

  • May 31, 2009

    Thanks for the useful tips. The tip that I found most useful was the one on being descriptive – definitely helps follow a conversation even if you were not part of it originally.

  • June 1, 2009

    There is a room for innovation anywhere. If you are smart enough to make your tweet interesting, people would like it no matter what subject you talk about.

  • August 4, 2009

    Why is the action verb for tweet not spelled TWEETING ?
    Inquiring Twits want to know!

  • April 19, 2010

    Wow! Really great tips! Definitely something both my clients and I can put to good use. Thanks Darya!

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