Martin Hughes

Higher education writer & fan of all things student related. Writes study tips & more at

The Secret to Conquering Twitter: Remember It’s Just Text!


Here’s a simple, one sentence article: There is no secret formula to conquering Twitter beyond writing within the confines of 140 characters.

Okay, that’s too basic, but why get too complicated? Twitter isn’t complicated!

What is Twitter?
Take a step back and consider what Twitter really is. But before I do, please forgive me if none of this is new to you. I’m going back to basics to make the point of how simple Twitter is for such a powerful tool.

What you get is the opportunity to write up to 140 characters of text. Each time you send a tweet out, it’s sent to the users following you. If you’re followed by 10 people, those 10 people get it sent to their feed. This doesn’t guarantee all 10 will see the tweet, because it’s a realtime stream of updates. It’s the best you’re gonna get with Twitter.

Want to get personal? Then mention specific users and your tweets will be highlighted to those users. If a particular user is following you, you can even send them a private Direct Message.

In short, Twitter allows you to send small packets of text out to whatever users are following you. You can also find those packets of text through Twitter’s search function and an increasing number of live web searches.

Given Twitter’s simplicity, it’s amazing the service has grown so successfully. No wonder there’s so much talk on how to use it right.

Find what works for you.
For all the tips and tricks out there, no single method will propel you into Twitter stardom. Think of it as you would with any writing. You wouldn’t be impressed if you were told all novels had to be horror stories in order to be successful. You wouldn’t believe advice that said the secret to getting published is to write solely about golf and provide plenty of hilarious and informative quotes about the sport.

Writing has a number of uses and there are multiple methods of writing successfully. The same can be said for Twitter.

For every rule you see on how to Tweet, be prepared to break that rule and don’t be scared to experiment. Success won’t come from avidly following someone else’s set of rules. Success will come from regular writing and experimenting with your own methods.

In time, you’ll find what works for you. Unless you are a celebrity or big brand (or heavily endorsed by one of them), you’ll have to work from scratch and give users a reason to engage with you.

What reason will you give?


  • September 17, 2010

    Great reminder. What’s working for me is to focus on @ replies and then just tweet a few interesting tips or links to articles I’ve come across.

  • September 17, 2010

    Sounds like a good mix, Susanne. @ replies to engage and great links to inform. Similar to my own mix.

    I’m glad to hear you’re conquering your personal Twitter!

  • September 18, 2010

    Retweet incredible things and big announcements, it always works for me.

  • September 18, 2010

    Tweeter really helps one hit the right target audience by telling what you do and the limitation lets the best come out of you.

  • September 19, 2010

    I have been using twitter (ineffectively) for quite some time, but hopefully this blog and doing a little more research will get me using it like a pro.

  • September 19, 2010

    Sorry for the second comment, but I wanted to make sure my Twitter ID got in there in case anyone wanted to be so kind to follow me ;)

  • September 19, 2010

    Okay. Third attempt :(

    I don’t know what you want in the Twitter ID field. I put the whole URL the first time (wrong), then just my ID (mikepedersen, wrong), and now I’m trying @mikepedersen. Let’s see if that works. Sorry.

  • September 19, 2010

    @Mike… they weren’t “wrong” so much as you were just impatient. ;)

    As you can see, all of them work. However comments sometimes get held in moderation, and we only go through comments a few times a day, so sometimes there’s a delay.

  • September 19, 2010

    As far as for what I’d give my readers, I’d give them ME. The real me! I’m in the marketing industry so I tweet stuff I find interesting, stuff that I think will absolutely help them in this industry, and just your average tweets about my life and what’s going on around me. Quotes help some but there’s no better advise than your unique view on any issue. :-)

  • September 20, 2010

    Hi, I have been using twitter for a year or so but still i haven’t achieved much success in it. I have been trying retweets, @replies, updates but nothing seems to work for me at the moment.

  • September 20, 2010

    @Mike, good luck with your goal. Your persistence and commitment should help you shine.

    @Pablo, glad your method of tweeting is working for you. I leave tweets about my life for @replies but I know many users who successfully give their professional Twitter accounts a more rounded personality by describing their day as they go.

    @Nida, the thing with Twitter is that it can take a long time to get comfortable with a structure you like. Give the account as much purpose as you can, keep speaking to others, give your opinion on what you retweet… There are so many things you can do, just so long as you remember it rarely happens overnight (unless you’re some kind of celeb or big brand).
    I wish you every success for the future as you tweet. You may find what works for you when you least expect it!

  • September 21, 2010

    @Martin: Thanks for getting back. I will follow the strategy of continuous and meaningful tweets and retweets. Will get back to you with the results :) . Thanks a lot.

  • September 29, 2010

    This is such a refreshing article, i work in social media myself and its nice to be reminded of how important the basics really are. Agenuine approach is always the best :)

  • October 26, 2010

    So if I wanted to shout out a mention to more than one person, ie. @shabbie, @twitbrain, etc , don’t I need to look up their handles, why isn’t there a pull down?

  • October 26, 2010

    Oh and is there a list of acronyms? i.e. #FF I just found out what that meant. I’m getting more into twitter due to article marketing on ezines and want to know what I’m doing, lol!

  • January 17, 2011

    Really Nice Tips! What I’ve found works best for me is to take time, mention people with questions so they answer you, and specially STATE YOUR OPINION. This of course on the twitter geeky community, don’t know about other stuff, after all, I’m just a tech geek. :P

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