In this guest post Dan Hollings (@dhollings) takes a look at 6 Questions that are often asked about Twitter and gives a comprehensive introduction to how to use Twitter effectively. Grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy.
How to light a candle under your Twitterings for both Newbies and those that think they are Pros…
How silly! I’m preparing to share some powerfully useful and advanced Twitter tips, yet I start with a warped variant of a well known children’s nursery rhyme. What’s up with that? It’s simple…
At the core of Twitter is a concept so simple, even a child can do it. Yet almost every newbie who arrives at the Twitter site is overwhelmed with a variation of the following thought:
My interpretation of this flummoxing phenomena suggests that most folks (newbies or not) are really asking:
- Why should I Twitter?
- How do I Twitter?
- What do I Twitter?
- How do I get followers?
- Can I make or raise money with Twitter?
- and… OK, I’m ready to start, what’s next?
If you could nail down these answers (quick), it might strike a match in your brain and get that Twitter candle burning bright. Now granted, I could write a book on each of these questions, but after Twittering for months, my brain often goes blank after 140 characters, so bear with me as my nimble finger pecks away at these Universal Twuestions.
THE SIX UNIVERSAL TWUESTIONS
1) Why should I Twitter?
You’re already doing lots of stuff, right? Business, social, charity, a blog, a site, marketing too… Twitter (if done right) can become the VELCRO or glue that makes all the stuff you currently do “cohesive” – yet, Twitter does not require much extra time.
2) How do I Twitter?
Technically, you just type (or tweet) short sentences from time-to-time, sharing with other folks (your followers) interesting stuff about (fill in the blank) – oh, and you can LINK to anything. At a deeper level and in time, you’ll develop a “Twitter Personality” or style. It’s well worth listening and observing other Twitterers you find interesting to plot out your “personality strategy,” but ultimately your goal is to be 100% YOU – a real person – only notch it up bit; be MORE of whatever you are. Perhaps MORE humorous, MORE edgy, MORE informative, MORE social, MORE sexy, MORE original, MORE controversial, anything except… MORE obnoxious
Take note of this reTweet classic:
I only follow those who meet 2 of 4 criteria: informative, interesting, dialectical, original.
3) What do I Twitter?
Ah, that’s the magical part. Now granted, what you post depends largely on your goals and purpose with Twitter, but in general this is easy… just post interesting stuff, preferably related in some way to what you do, who you are, what you (and your followers) are interested in etc. It pays to be interesting to your followers, but it pays more to be interested in your followers; so communicate and network to your hearts content – but don’t (I repeat, do not) tell me what you or your cat had for breakfast. Twitter is NOT a public cafeteria nor a micro-advertising billboard.
Twitter posts (if done well) can be very valuable and/or interesting tidbits of information. However, rest assured that even the most attentive follower will not read all (if not most of) your posts. Thus repurposing previously tweeted posts is a good idea provided you do it with prudence. On posts you feel are particularly interesting or valuable, repost or reTweet these with honesty while spacing them broadly across time.
For example, you might say things like:
- In case you missed it…
- Last weeks retweet…
- Popular Retweet-
- Last weeks favorite…
- Did you see this?
- Retweet Rewind:
- Rehashed Twit:
- Recycled Twit:
For any naysayer who just read this tip and you’re now experiencing raised hairs on the back of your neck as you think “Twitter Spam!” – think again. Is your TV spamming you when a station runs repeats, or are they providing a service whereby you can catch something you’re interested in but you missed it earlier? Unlike a blog which journals posts in archives by month, some have suggested that Twitter is like a text version of Reality TV; it’s an interesting thought and I they do both flow in a timeline.
At the end of the day, quality content should have a lifetime value beyond a single Tweet. Think about that great advice you shared with your followers 2 months ago. If you don’t recycle some things occasionally, how will it benefit your newest followers that just tuned-in to your Twitter channel? If you set your quality standards high and space your Tweets broadly, everyone will be happy.
4) How do I get followers?
Re-read tip #2 first. Potential followers seek out interesting personalities to follow. The MORE interesting you are, the more followers you’ll get. But beware: having more followers is not necessarily a worthy goal. To rain tweets upon a million non-attentive followers is like circle irrigating barren soil where no growth is possible.
- Be interesting (as in VERY)
- Be YOU (only notch it up)
- Be social (that does not mean putting a lampshade on your head)
- Be helpful and informative
- Engage existing followers regularly in interesting things.
- Tweet as often as you can, but maintain quality.
- Look sharp (Photo/wallpaper etc)
- Seek out targeted followers, who may be predisposed towards your “Twitter Personality” and subject matter.
While there are systems and strategies to pro-actively increase your followers, you will find that quality followers (people that listen) will often find YOU once you’ve established an interesting “Twitter Personality.”
OK OK, it’s the old “you attract more flies with honey than vinegar” strategy… but what other “get more follower” tips might there be?
Here’s the straight scoop. You don’t want to seek more FOLLOWERS you want to seek more LISTENERS. There are many proactive strategies, here are a few:
- Make Twitter the “CENTER” of your online universe. All profiles across the social media universe should list and link to your Twitter page as your primary page. If you are doing Twitter seriously, this will be very effective. With the exception of specific campaigns, you should drive all ancillary traffic to Twitter as the primary destination. Twitter is a soft close, in other words, people can get to know you without giving you a name and email straight way. It’s far easier to move a Twitter follower along your path (or funnel) to more engagement later, than to go from cold contact to full close in one fell swoop.
- Determine the primary keywords and phrases that your ideal follower might use in their daily lexicon. With that in mind, do searches of Twitter timelines (Twitter Search) and/or Twitter bios (Twellow) and/or Twitterers in your local area (TwitterLocal or Twellowhood) to find targeted people you might follow. An ongoing strategy of finding targeted people to follow will build your followers because often 30% or more will follow you back. Don’t go twitty, just add a reasonable number of new follows each week – meet and greet as many new followers as you can.
- There are many resources such as Mr. Tweet, TwitterGrader and TwitterPacks which all offer different angles on finding the best listener/followers. And with care, automated services (such as Twollo) can help.
- Don’t be shy about visiting the Twitter follower or following pages of other users who already have the type followers you like. Yes, we’re talking comrades and competitors; you can follow folks from their ranks. I can hear it already, a few readers are getting heart palpitations about it now, as if I’ve just recommended robbing the local five and dime. You’re following people, not stealing people; if these folks later decide you’re worthy of following, cool. There is nothing sinister about any of this and for sure, there are no monopolies on followers.
- Add “Follow Me on Twitter” messages in prime spots like: email footers, newsletters, thank you pages (after a sale or opt-in). Don’t trap your mindset in just the online world; think SMS text messaging, sending real cards and letters, mentioning your Twitterings in speeches and even within your own voice mail recordings.
- Socially bookmark your better Twitter postings (I’m talking static pages). Yes they have SEO value. Services such as Twitchboard and Fleck Lite automate social bookmarking in different ways. You can of course go heavy-duty with services like Onlywire or SocialPoster.
- I could easily list 100 more ideas on how to get followers, but I’ll close with TWO of my favorites…
- Simply increase your engagement with existing followers, and your followers will reTweet and recommend you to new followers. As a famous Twitterer once read… It’s not how many followers you have, it’s how many times you get reTweeted.
- Whenever you get a new follower, a direct message, or someone reTweets or mentions your name… pour on the hot social buttered rum sauce with a smile.
Believe it or not, before you can say Twittercalifragilisticexpialidocious, you’ll likely have more followers than you can manage and dumping a few can be a good thing. If only I had these tools back in my college dorm days! Lessfriends, FriendorFollow, or TwitTangle
To sum up this Twitter tip:
Followers are fiction whereas listeners are fact. In Twitter, you want more fact than fiction.
5) Can I make or raise money with Twitter?
Answer: Send me $1 via Twitter and I’ll tell you (just kidding).
All kidding aside, the answer is YES! In fact…
“Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) says Twitter has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts”
Read How to make a million dollars on Twitter (just like Dell) and my wacky response.
OK, you’re not Dell, but rest assured the fact that Twitter can help make or raise money is no longer theory. If you VELCRO everything you do with Twitter, the cohesion of your strategy will increase your prospect, customer, or audience stickiness factor and the money will follow.
The secret is NOT to think Twitter drives revenue as a stand-alone vehicle. Instead, think of Twitter as one more wheel or perhaps the driveshaft on your internet dune buggy. Once it’s up and running, you’ll likely find yourself compelled to put your Twitter pedal to the metal. You’ll find ample fuel to power your Twitter vehicle at the many Twitter Tip sites from TwiTip to my own Twittin’ Secrets series which provides 100 Twitter Tips 100% free.
6) FINALLY, “I’m ready to start, what’s next?”
If you haven’t signed up for Twitter, DON’T. That’s right, do not. Not yet.
Step back and become a sponge for a few days. The first few decisions you make about Twitter can be important and deserve forethought as you contemplate your Twitter purpose and Twitter strategy. Twitter is this tiny little thing that “with a good strategy” becomes a BIG thing.
Even if you’ve already started Twittering, the following Twitter Tips should provide invigorating insight regardless of where you are in the Twitter timeline of life.
You are ready to start Twittering when…
- You’ve skimmed through Twitter’s official FAQs and HELP. (I’m not kidding. Invest 15 minutes upfront and save hours down the road)
- You’ve decided on your “Topical Twitter Focus” (what you plan to Tweet about – mostly).
- You’ve thought of a memorable (and perhaps descriptive) 15 character username that you can carry across all the social networks (Here’s a tool to let you check username availability)
- You have a really good photo of yourself for your Twitter profile (Occasionally an avatar, cartoon, image, or logo can be appropriate – but be careful – when is the last time you wanted to follow or chat with a logo? )
- You have a punchy, compelling, and interesting 160 character BIO ready for your Twitter page.
- You have a FIRST TWITTER POST (Tweet) ready. 140 characters. No link required. Here’s where many go brain dead or embarrass themselves. Your first tweet is like your first baby steps and it should begin your “Twitter Flow.” You’ll find a lot of “What NOT to post” ideas here: MyFirstTweet
- Your Twitter background image or wallpaper can wait (if necessary), but it is very important to really do a bang-up wallpaper job within your first month. So many Twitter pages look like the work of a one-armed paperhanger.
- Finally… and this might be the hardest part (but don’t skip it)…You need a low key “Twitter Convincer” web page to LINK TO as part of your Twitter Bio. Most likely your website or blog home page is NOT the best choice. And for sure, your “get rich quick for only $19.95 page” can be saved for relatives, your “ex”, or former jail mates. Here’s why: people visiting your Twitter page want to know WHY they should follow you. If your Twitter posts look interesting, your wallpaper catches their eye, your photo looks good, and your bio packs a punch, all that’s left to convince a visitor to follow, is a quick click to see what you’ve linked to. At that point, you either convince them to follow or they’re gone. A good “Twitter Convincer” page can be an “About Me” or any page that gives the visitor two things:
- The answer to his or her primary question… “Why Should I Follow?”
- A convenient way to get back to your FOLLOW BUTTON on your Twitter page.
“The Beginning of Happiness!”
Andrew Matthew is a cartoonist and author of books about Happiness.
His first Twitter post establishes his “Twitter Focus”
His “Happy Bio” plays off the title of one of his books and he links to his “About Me” page:
Oh, and let’s not overlook, Andrew snared a great Twitter username @followandrew
http://twitter.com/dhollings (Click my website/bio link / upper right)
Or BIO link: http://go2468.com/followdan
On my own Twitter page, I’ve used a creative frameset, whereby I display a humorous static page Tweet (to the left) and in a frame (to the right), I give reasons and simple steps to follow me on both Twitter and Google’s FriendConnect. I also take all the mystery out of WHY you might follow me:
- Free Twitter Tips
- Marketing Ideas
- Wacky humor
- Lots of laughs
- Even more laughs
I’m not recommending my set-up necessarily, but it demonstrates a creative approach that works well for me. For the adventurous, here is how to build a frameset, step by step.
A SIMPLIFIED VARIATION:
A variation of what I’ve done could be as simple as linking to a very well worded static Tweet. In other words, I could have made my Twitter website/Bio link simply this:
(note: my wallpaper is designed to encourage followers)
By the way… I can hear you asking already… How do you create (or find) a “Twitter Static page?”
Step 1: Make a Tweet.
Step 2: Click the timestamp link directly below that tweet.
Step 3: The link to that page is in the browser address bar.
Before finishing up, let’s return for a moment to where we started with our Jack Be Nimble nursery rhyme. According to Wikipedia, it has been suggested that “jumping over a candlestick” is a way of foretelling the future. If the candle stays lit, good luck should follow. With that in mind, I’ll leave you with one final Twitter tip: Twitter be Nimble, Twitter be Quick, if you don’t know Jack, follow & listen and he’ll follow you back.
About Dan Hollings
Follow Dan on Twitter @dhollings
The author & creator of “Twittin’ Secrets – 100 World’s Greatest Twitter Tips & Secrets” and the free “MyTwitter Toolbar.” In pre-Twitter days, he was the internet strategist behind the mega hit movie phenomena, “The Secret.” Dan is also the co-founder (along with Joe Polish @jpolish) of “BridgeGAP Marketing” – bridging the gap between Online, Offline and Mobile marketing.