Thoughts on getting the most from Twitter

There are loads of people out there who know far more about Twitter (see my previous post on the power of Twitter) than I but here a few of my observations:

  • Don’t try to follow too many people. Too many and you will start to get lost in the noise and be unable to get a grip on what’s going on. Be selective about who you follow and don’t automatically follow someone who follows you. Look at their Twitter feed and profile and try to gauge if they will add interest and substance to your network. If you decide to follow a large number of people then use an app like TweetDeck that offers groups and filters. Don’t be afraid to un-follow people who you feel have begun wasting your time.
  • You can benefit from following a variety of people with a mix of opinions. Don’t just follow people like yourself or only people you agree with. If you want to really understand the world then you need to engage with people who may not share your world view. Select a few interesting people in this category, you may learn something and have the opportunity to influence them once you have gained their respect. Try to remain open minded and be prepared to discuss issues with people on all sides of the debate. It is possible to be friends with someone you totally disagree and it’s very healthy when both sides can respect each other and communicate without resorting to abuse.
  • Avoid mundane personal info but keep it real. “I’m on the train” or another photo of your breakfast will not add much to the sum of human knowledge, can become annoying and probably get you unfollowed. However talking about the stuff that is going on in your life is important and helps people get to know you.
  • Remember Twitter is a mainly conversation not a billboard or broadcast medium. Be prepared to engage in conversations. Twitter becomes really interesting when you get into a discussion or observe other people’s conversations. If you ONLY use Twitter to promote yourself, your events or just your point of view you won’t attract many followers. Engage with the community, chat, share and discuss. You will quickly find, as in life and on the web generally, there are plenty of people with extreme, weird or offensive views on Twitter. Be careful not to be provoked into hasty ill-thought out responses which you may regret later. Be prudent about who you engage with, sometimes it’s wise just to avoid being dawn into rants or dead-end conversations.
  • Find a few subjects and Tweet mostly about them. People with similar interests will then follow you and you can be an influencer or ‘go-to’ person on that topic. The most successful Twitter users are usually talking about a few niche subjects rather only randomly talking about what is on their mind that particular day. For example my personal Twitter feed is mostly about my work, the Mac & iPhone, church stuff and a bit of football. Being interesting is the first priority and endlessly just re-Tweeting other people’s stuff or nothing but links is rather mundane. Try to let your personality show through and talk about the things you know and understand best.
  • Don’t Tweet too much. There is no hard and fast rule about how often it is advisable to tweet but I know I get annoyed when I see that same person filling my twitter feeds with endless chatter, however interesting they may be. Avoid automated Tweeting systems (that for example Tweet every song you listen to on Spotify). Automated Tweets will get you unfollowed fast.
  • Tweet your photos and links to photos when you can. Although Facebook is a generally better medium for sharing photos, tweeted photos, particularly as of events as they happen are very useful. I find them particularly interesting when they show an event or subject that I’m interested in when I am unable to be there in person.
  • Don’t get obsessed with the number of followers you have. If you think Twitter is a competition to get the most followers then you’ve missed the point. Obviously it’s desirable to have a larges network, but what is more important is the quality of your followers. It is better to have a few followers who re-tweet you and chat with you than loads who are not really paying much attention. Building a good Twitter network involves playing the long-game, it will take time and effort to build a valuable network. Avoid shady offers the that promise to “add 5000 followers instantly”. Even if these schemes actually work, then followers will be spammy and probably of little relevance to you. This in not going to enhance your network or credibility on the long-run. Accept that you will lose followers as well as gain them. Don’t worry if you lose a few followers from time to time but if you suddenly have a big drop in followers then maybe re-consider how you are tweeting.

[Baltant self promotion alert] Follow me on Twitter

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