What Should You Tweet About?

What Should You Tweet About? In this guest post Michael Martine from Remarkablogger shares some thoughts on the topic. Follow Michael on Twitter @remarkablogger.

You’d think coming up with 140 characters would be easy. Twitter requires us to think differently about how to provide value. In approaching any kind of social media (and you could argue this includes blogging, too), I believe the two winning strategies are to provide value and engage with people. There is no one-size-fits-all tactic to support these strategies, but here’s how I answer the question “what do I tweet about?”

Know what your followers want

I won’t assume that what your followers want are the same things my followers want, but I think it’s safe to say that most people on Twitter want to:

  • Get cool links to click on (and distract them from the work they’re supposed to be doing ;) ).
  • Get something worth replying to and having a conversation over.
  • Get something worth retweeting to their own followers.
  • Feel closer to others they like.

In other words, people like to have a good time, have their egos stroked, and be part of a group. If your tweets meet these “Twitter needs”, you’ll grow your followers naturally and accomplish the goals you have for using Twitter (fun, marketing, whatever).

Give your followers what they want

With the above points in mind, here are some ways to do this that really answer the question “What should I tweet about?”

  • Share links to cool stuff your followers will like. You’ll know if you’re on the mark because you’ll get positive feedback in the form of replies, retweets, and direct messages. Sometimes these links should be a link to your own posts, but mostly they should be links to other stuff.
  • Engage your followers directly: ask questions, throw a statement out there, do something to trigger a conversation. Directly addressing something someone else has tweeted with your own reply is a good way to do this, since the other person is almost sure to reply back to you. Often, tweeting a cool link will do this, but consider tweeting a great quote or an opinionated statement.
  • Send direct messages just to say hello or to thank someone who retweeted a tweet of yours. Direct messages bring you closer to your followers. It’s amazing what can be accomplished by simply asking someone how they are.
  • Retweet others when they post tweets you like and want to share. The more you help others, the more they help you, so retweet liberally (but not exclusively).
  • Use multimedia tools, such as Utterli, TwitPic, or 12 Seconds to bring some variety to your tweets. People love to look at pictures, and short audio clips and videos are not a prohibitive time investment.

Variety is the key

Aim for a good mix of stand-alone tweets, replies, and direct messages. Link to a variety of things (including your own) both on-topic (if you have one) and off-topic. Twitter is a great place where you don’t have to be “on message”. You can relax and be a bit more personable. Too much of any one thing will drive people away, so keep a balance to your mix of tweets.

How do you determine what you Tweet About

Comments

  • November 6, 2008

    Asking questions only works if you have a critical mass of followers.

    By the way, there’s something I would like those who I follow not to tweet: automated links to blog posts. If I follow a blog via RSS or direct visits, those tweets only clutter the timeline.

  • November 6, 2008

    a good mix is some good advice… love to stop hearing about the election…!

  • November 6, 2008
    Clive

    This is all well and good but not everyone wants to tweet your way. That’s the great thing about twitter. You can put want you want on it. If people don’t like it then they don’t have to listen. Not everyone is on twitter to have lots of followers but instead want to be able to talk to anyone who might be interested.
    Let’s not straight jacket ourselves.

  • November 6, 2008

    One extra tip:

    Tell others about your favorite tweeters. People are always looking for new people to follow, and you can tell them to do so. :-)

    Good post, Mike – Stumbled!

  • November 6, 2008

    Good advice there! Excellent article

  • November 6, 2008

    Interesting stuff. It’s good to have some guidance since we didn’t learn these rules in school.

  • November 6, 2008

    It’s nice to see how one can use other methods of promotion for blogs as well as to create communities, something that I feel is lost on the internet at times.

    Thanks for the great ideas. :)

  • November 6, 2008

    This is great post- especially for Twitter newbies, like myself. One thing I like to do share links to really good blog posts (ahem, like this one). I find that it really engages people and they enjoy it- opens up their world a little more!

  • November 6, 2008

    Great post, I love seeing cool links to distarct me:) I Agree with John, I’m so tired of hearing about the election.

  • November 6, 2008

    I love that combination of random thoughts, interesting observations and links that I can find on Twitter. I’m with John….I’m so done with election tweets!!!

  • November 6, 2008

    Thanks, John. I think you’ll see a slow down in political tweets.

  • November 6, 2008

    Good tips Michael,

    It’s important to mix things up. Everyone expects some links from content but try and mix it in with the rest of your tweets. Definitely a good guide for someone learning the ropes.

    @Darren – Cool idea twitter is only going to continue to grow by leaps and bounds and this should be a good resource.

  • November 6, 2008

    As always another great, informative post from you Darren. Thanks for all that you bring to the social media table in all its forms.

  • November 6, 2008

    Nice post. Start to tweet more interesting tweets. Looking forward to having your twitting ideas.

  • November 6, 2008

    Just realized it wasn’t Darren that wrote this one. So…. Michael Martine great post! Thanks for writing.

  • November 6, 2008

    Your tweet got me distracted from doing my work. :-)

    Now I’m going to tweet less about my statuses (I feel sick or something) and be thoughtful of what I share. Thanks a lot!

  • November 6, 2008

    This is all really great. While Twitter was originally meant to answer the “what are you doing?” question in a very literal way, it’s expanded so far beyond that now that most people will have a hard time getting or maintaining a following if all they Tweet is stuff like, “getting lunch” or “time for bed”.

    While those kinds of updates still have a place (I use them myself), more thought given to your Tweets is what really makes the difference. Thanks for this!

  • November 6, 2008

    Great tips, Michael. I enjoy the challenge of trying to condense something valuable (not necessarily the same as “meaningful”! :) ) into 140 characters.

    I’ve been most surprised by the number of responses I get to really “easy” questions. I guess it’s the quick, off-the-cuff, no-barriers-to-entry opportunity to connect that appeals to people in that case. And even then, the variety that you mention is absolutely essential.

  • November 6, 2008

    Good Post……….
    I wanna ask you…………..
    Well do we need to tweet for money or blog pramotion only? There is life beyond that……………..

  • November 6, 2008

    Good tips, I always try to provide resources and make sure I tweet a good mix, but also remember to keep some silence in there to actually listen to my followers too :-)

  • November 6, 2008

    Aniket, that’s a good question. These tips are designed to help you help others. That’s a win-win regardless of your purpose for being on Twitter. Even if all you wanted to do was just hang out with a few close friends on Twitter, these tips would help you have more fun with that.

  • November 6, 2008

    3 seconds = reading the average Tweet
    60 = #of Tweets read in a day (if you read that many)
    180 seconds = 3 minutes a day (minimum)
    3 x 365 = 1095 miniutes or 18.25 hours a year
    I think this is very conservative actually .

    Time is precious.
    I don’t think, and I hope, people don’t follow me because I Tweeted, “I just served mac and cheese to my kids” and similar Tweets on a continuous basis.

    I’d rather think about offering value and encouraging folks, most of the time.
    And perhaps a DM is better than filling up public space.
    The only people who really need to know who you’re interacting with, are the people you’re interacting with.

    A timely article!

    Thank you.
    Ray Schiel
    The Global Social Media Network

  • November 6, 2008

    I have found expert advice and given some on Twitter. My daughter found a new job on Twitter. But the posts I enjoy most are the ones about daily stuff going on in far away places like Australia. My favorite tweeter is problogger. Stuff I can use like today’s wordpress plugins (from down the road in Raleigh, NC) and funny stuff too. (McCain asked him to vote for him – all the way in Australia. You can tweet about almost anything as long as its well written and I’ll read it. Don’t really care that you’re going to bed, though!

  • November 6, 2008

    Michael,

    Another great post, Sir.

    In terms of sending useful links, I have alerts set up in google and tweetbeep that mine the web for useful stuff I might be missing.

    For example, I have one set up that searches for “non-profit marketing”. I’ll schedule the alerts to notify me “as it happens”. If I think the results are valuable, I’ll tweet about it with my own comments.

    John

  • November 6, 2008

    I believe it’s necessary to mix up your tweets with messages other than just self promotional things. I’ve found that if I simply post links to my latest blogs that quickly the number of people who follow my links start to decrease. My fellow twitterers want to see a more human side to your tweets and not just post quacks.

  • November 6, 2008

    Yahe i apreciate that, your post helps a lot for other activities like having a chat with some friends.
    But sometimes i feel that twitter is good if it isnt for the things like blog pramotiones and same stuff(I also do believe its a great blog pramotion tool). By the way thanks for the response

  • November 6, 2008

    Dave, absolutely right. When I look at someone’s twitter stream and all the messages are of one kind, that’s a turn off. I like to see a mix.

  • November 6, 2008

    Aniket, yes too many self-promotions looks bad, but promoting great links from others is a way to build friendships and provide value.

  • November 6, 2008

    I appreciated your balanced approach to different areas to Tweet about. Great post.

  • November 6, 2008

    That a questoon that i wore making to my self becase every time i hae a new fallower i feel the need to ask them that, why they decide to fallow me? becuase i really dont know what good am givin.

    But you give good aideas about what to do. well see

  • November 6, 2008

    I agree that a good mix is key. This is a brave new world, and I’m happy to take part in it… I also think that the political twittering will die down, which is very fortunate. I was following many people who I respect in terms of SEO and Industry but disagree with politically. This past year, everyone’s politics has been on their sleves, and I think that it has just further polarized the situation, because it’s so easy to unfollow someone who doesn’t have the same political opinion.

  • November 6, 2008

    A good follow-up post to this would be “What shouldn’t you tweet”, because I see a lot of things that have caused me to un-follow some people. Example, one person ended every single tweet he sent with an affiliate link which is very annoying. The same person spent 3 entire days, with 90% of his tweets promoting his affiliate crap. It might be my fault for following him in the first place, but twitter is a place networking, not spamming.

  • November 6, 2008

    Freelance Twins, that’s a great idea. Coming right up. :)

  • November 6, 2008

    @Freelance Twins : I’m sure Daren will be preparing the post. And true for what you’ve mentioned a place for networking and not spamming.
    @Daren : True, sometimes, if we tweet good feedback, follower will come. Great advice.
    @Michael Martine : Yes agree with you, if you promote too many, if its good, follower will follow, if its bad, you tend to get less and less follower.

    Thanks
    Twitter follow @davcheong

  • November 6, 2008

    Michael, you’ve provided valuable twitter tips for us all, for twitter newbies and “seasoned” twitter users alike.

    “Give to Get” is the motto I try to live by (on twitter, StumbleUpon etc), providing informative links to blog posts done by others that followers will enjoy and/or learn from.

    Blatant self-promotion (especially with affiliate links included in tweets) gets an immediate unfollow and/or block. Do unto others……

  • November 6, 2008

    I live in Ecuador (South America) and I think twitter is not as popular as it could be in the rest of the world. My followers are mostly fellow bloggers and “common” people such as my daily life friends or colleagues haven’t even heard about twitter. I notice most tweets are about what people are doing or thinking (in their personal lives) and not as much used to share stuff. I use twitter for my blog updates but I also include a lot of (not so) personal life. Another thing people tweet a lot about is music they’re listening to, via Twitty Tunes or such services. I think the “sharing” culture is still modest around here.

  • November 6, 2008

    Very interesting. I’m new to twitter, signed up last week and discovering what the hell it is all about basically lol

    At first, I was just answering the question “what are you doing now” but I’m slowly learning there is more to it than that question.

    For other musicians/creatives out there, there is a great article about using twitter at http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/twitter-is-radically-changing-the-way-musicians-are-building.html (this is what convinced me to sign up)

  • November 6, 2008

    Michael,

    You just said:

    “…promoting great links from others is a way to build friendships and provide value.”

    Seeking to help others is what seperates the best from the rest.

    John

  • November 6, 2008

    Well thats true you can always show your friends what you have found good.

  • November 6, 2008

    I haven’t really been using Twitter that much, and just set up a feed to update when I post new items on my blog. I should probably spend that little bit more time tweeting useful information and more “everyday”, to give it a more personal edge. I should know this, because I prefer to follow people who do exactly that!!

    Great post, Michael.

  • November 6, 2008

    Great ideas! I know I should probably tweet more useful things for my followers, but what can ya do?

  • November 6, 2008

    @Paolo Amoroso – yeah i dont like that either!

    good post :)

  • November 6, 2008

    Nice tips, Darren. Thanks!

  • November 6, 2008

    Great comments, everyone. The mostly unspoken rule about Twitter is that you don’t answer the question, “What are you doing?” :) Twitter is really all about using it in ways other than for which it was intended.

    Automation may make things easier for the tweeter, but it unless you’re very careful, it makes things worse for the followers.

  • November 6, 2008

    Great post. I was doing it all wrong. Thanks.

    @ken_wagner

  • November 6, 2008

    Hi Darren,
    great post. This looks like another runaway successful blog.

    Twitter to me is one great tool to prevent myself from getting too trigger happy for like what you say it forces one to think! (That is if we value and remember why we really twit)

    Here’s to everyone working together to keep it meaningful and interesting… not just a means to promote .

    Sylvester

  • November 6, 2008

    Hi Darren, I have been reading ProBlogger from a while.

    I am using twitter, but not much, just because not knowing more about it. I hope twitip helps me learn more about twitter.

  • November 6, 2008

    Hi Michael – it’s nice to see you writing over at this brand new blog. I hadn’t realised the importance of retweeting stuff, until recently. It’s easy to forget that your followers can’t often see the original tweet.

    I still really struggle with the 140 characters – sometimes I have to do 2 tweets for one message.

  • November 7, 2008

    I haven’t thought much about what I tweet, but I generally get responses to what I’m tweeting, so I guess I’m doing something right. I’ll have to start tweeting more carefully and see what happens…

  • November 7, 2008

    I’m relatively new to Twitter, and as such, I might not be an expert on what one SHOULD Tweet about. I joined Twitter to reach out to others with similar and in some instances, contrasting interests.

    Tweets that are wholly personal, detailing the minute details of one’s life, I don’t look forward to reading. Write a blog entry or ten if that’s your intent for Twitter.

    I share useful writing/media/entertainment information and links, and look for others in these industries to share tidbits I might have missed during the course of the day or week.

    “Should” takes ownership away from the person Tweeting. You can always unfollow someone if what they’re saying is uninteresting or repetitive.

  • November 7, 2008

    We’re using the word “should” here because it reflects an important question on the mind of a person who is new to Twitter: what should I tweet about?

  • November 10, 2008

    Good advice for a new Tweeter. thanks.

  • November 18, 2008
    CoachEva1

    Fantastic advice – personal yet value-packed at the same time. Value and values…two different topics that are very related to each other when we talk of blogging or the twitterverse. It seems you’re reminding us about respect for the other and service to the other. Not unlike advice I give in networking meetings “Serve before expecting to be served.” Is that about right? Thanks again.

  • November 18, 2008

    @ChoachEva1 – Glad you liked it. I would say that what we’re doing here is serving without the expectation of being served. You can’t expect it, because you never really know if that’s what you’re going to get or not.

  • November 20, 2008

    You should satisfy needs such as questions in Twitter. There is no difference between blogging and Twittering in my opinion. The only difference is the media.

  • December 18, 2008

    This is some great advice, and I’ll be watching what I promote on Twitter! I do like giving out interesting links, but I have a question. If we are to prevent sounding like spamers, how often – or how far apart – would you suggest that we post a link to our sites?

  • December 19, 2008

    Excellent tips Michael. At the beginning new twitterers are at a loss regarding many of the issues you mention. Many veterans are still at a loss. I regret not having read posts like these when I started. A balance, that’s the key. I like to be amused so I reckon people would like much of that. Now, when you want to entertain you can be good or just a clown. So you have to learn to balance, to administer your twits. And always, no matter how big your ego is, think of others first. It is easy to find out wh0’s lying in here. Just by reading at some tweets you have an idea of how this tweeter may be. So keep it clean, be of help, mean it. Make friends and don’t sell them your crap. Just like you would do with your real world good friends. Don’t expect too much. Reward whatever it may be, will come along the way. Thanks for sharing your ideas Michael.

  • April 23, 2009

    It is my crusade, perhaps quixotic, to get all Twitter users to avoid any and all attempts to advise or guide the content of a tweet. In that regard I offer an alternative viewpoint to this post in my essay, Steal This Twitter: A Non-Guide for New Users.”

  • April 24, 2009

    I had this problem when I first started using twitter, and I think a lot of new people feel the same way. “What do I say?” or “I don’t have anything interesting to say.” I think the best way to start talking about things is to go to Search.Twitter.com and type in things that interests you, and then start talking to people from there. This should get new people over the initial hump of gaining followers and joining the convo.

  • May 16, 2009

    Some great ideas here, thanks for sharing! Peace, Judi

  • June 21, 2009

    I just talk about funny things. And post the latest “breaking News” in my own way. ;-)
    I am not really posting personal stuff about myself to much I just tweet for laughs.

    Grinnn Greetz All

  • June 23, 2009

    How do you make this URL shorter to link it to Twitter? How do I use 140 characters and then link a website by “tinyurl” or “bit?”

  • October 1, 2009

    Very nice. Thanks for the links to Twitpic and 12seconds. I hope to use them soon.
    The Laughable News

  • January 28, 2011

    Just been to 12 Seconds and it has been taken off line, what did the site do?

    Thanks for the article very useful.

    I agree with the good mix of posts as I can’t stand peopel who just Tweet spam.

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