- Feed your community. This means finding and sharing interesting information for your followers. Just as people get tired of eating the same thing everyday, mix up the information you share. Use different sources and content formats.
- Add a touch of personality to your tweets. This makes your tweets stand out. Include a short, useful comment to guide followers. Edit post titles to shorten them while keeping the original meaning. Acknowledge authorship.
- Check tweets and links before sharing or re-tweeting! People often re-tweet incorrect URLs without realizing it because they never clicked the link! In a similar vein, strong titles can get re-tweeted while the article never gets read.
- Add creativity with the use of Twitter bait. Think about how to get others to tweet the same words. (For example: #UsGuys uses #RingTheTribalBell to welcome new members.) It’s particularly useful for talks and conferences.
- Don’t just re-tweet well-known folks or publications. Check the content to see if you want your name associated with it. Tweeting or re-tweeting highly tweeted sources may not get you recognized. Instead look for less popular content to share and stand out.
- Time your retweets. Don’t just hit the re-tweet button, change the timing by an hour or more to broaden the information’s audience. This is important if your followers overlap or if you’re using the same hashtag. It’s acceptable practice to use a Twitter application to schedule your tweets.
- Expand your reach beyond your followers. Use relevant hashtags to distribute your tweets more broadly. Consider whether you want to link your tweets to other social media platforms and/or include a Twitter feed on your blog or website.
- Send your audience a busy signal. Let followers know when you’ll be having a lot more activity than usual such as a Twitter chat or live tweeting at an event.
- Don’t clog followers’ or a hashtag’s tweet stream. Space your tweets out rather than sending a bunch in a short time period. One exception is Christopher Penn; he selects five things (#the5) worth sharing each morning and calls it the five.
- Don’t repeat other people’s tweets just to see your name again. This happens a lot for lists of Follow Friday (#FF) and Marketer Monday (#MM). Give someone recognition with a unique call out that explains why others should follow them. This doesn’t mean that you should include someone’s Twitter handle in your tweet just to get their attention. That can backfire and piss them off!
- Be human but skip the minutia. Showing that you’ve got real life feelings and relationships makes you more approachable and enables people to relate to you. However, don’t tweet your every action; even your mother doesn’t want to know that much about you. We don’t need to know every Foursquare checkin.
- Show you care. Include some small talk in your Twitter communications, but don’t over share. Twitter can be a great way to build relationships. A great forum for Twitter conversation is #UsGuys. (Please join our 24/7 conversation.)
My only comment is, like always, do the best you can with the best intent possible. Don’t delay starting, exploring, making mistakes, making connections, until you have the resources or until you’re prepared to do it perfectly. Voltaire said, “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien,” which is the infamous “the perfect is the enemy of the good” which is to say that Twitter is about the long game. Like being the imperfect parent who puts the time in as opposed to the favorite uncle who only pops in every couple months with a bunch of stories and prezzies.
Be the good parent, be the constant companion. Your retweets don’t have to be perfect. Lots of all of this can be overwhelming, so just dip in there and realize that some weeks you’ll get behind it, some days you’ll have too much to share. Listen to the feedback but don’t react to feedback because reacting on Twitter is generally almost always over-reacting.
Finally, as I advised a recent East Coast client, Twitter is a 24-hour cycle that needs to take California and Hawaii into consideration so please do not be afraid of loading up informational and “evergreen” tweets into the hopper for after you go home to be a good parent or good friend.
And, here’s my most controversial advice: feel free to tweet original, breaking, important news up to three times-a-day, worded differently. Twitter may well be called a microblog but unlike a blog, people don’t read it like a newspaper, they watch it like CNN Headline News (HLN) — for ten minutes at a time, when they can, and your news (an item on HLN) competes with a lot of other news items (Osama bin Laden killed by Seal Team 6 operators, for example) and so it is important to make sure your news gets in there when people are watching. I recommend at least three times, once at 0900h ET, once at 1500h ET, and once at 2100h ET, allowing folks from GMT +1 to GMT -10, from Europe to Hawaii, can maybe catch your notice on their Buddhist “now, now, now, now, now” constant river of news.
Thank you, Heidi Cohen for inspiring this rant, I don’t blog nearly enough.