Twitter offers some fantastic tools for businesses and individuals. Here we’ll dive into friendly ways to get the most out of @Twitter without being overbearing.
Let’s go tab by tab, starting backwards with Lists.
Lists are best used for the things that matter most to you or that you simply want/need to keep an eye on. What are your favorite news sources? Whose tweets do you want to watch intently? Lists enable you to group them together under one or more labels whether you’re following those users or not, much like a news RSS feed. You can add someone to your list(s) by clicking on the drop down head and shoulder menu on anyone’s Twitter profile.
Following is like a handshake in the Twittersphere. It’s an introduction that can direct that user to your username and bio blurb, and expresses an interest in hearing what they have to say. Following back your followers is like socially accepting those handshakes and listening to what the other people are saying, enabling the conversation to be truly ‘social’ and two way, rather than an all advertising, one-way shout fest of ‘Buy my stuff! See me in the news! Care about what I say even though I don’t bother listening to anything you say unless you specifically @mention me.’
Twitter has following limits that prevent you from following more than about 120% of your total follower amount once you get over a certain number. So if you have 2,000 followers, Twitter may not let you follow more than 2,400. It’s a great tool on their part to inhibit spammers, but it means that if you’re following a lot of people who don’t bother following back because they login to Twitter too infrequently or such, you’re tying your hands when it comes to following more users.
You can a) use www.Who.Unfollowed.Me, @Unfollowr, and @TwitCleaner to see who’s not following back and who’s now inactive on Twitter to decide if you want to continue following them. You can always put those whose updates you’d like to follow, but whom you don’t want affecting your follow ratio because they don’t follow back, on lists. Lists enable you to have the best of both worlds; you can still see those updates in one place, but you don’t have to be held back from meeting and following new users by actually following the no-follow-back types. You can make lists public or private as you see fit. Follow @ListWatcher if you’d like a direct message whenever you’re added to a public list.
Searches offer a way for you to join in conversations that are important to you with people you’re (likely) not already following. Maybe you’re a huge fan of Iñárritu films, or you’d like to find out what people are saying about the new mp3 you just uploaded, Breathing Hope. You can save searches for Iñárritu and Breathing Hope as a reminder to check up on these topics weekly. It’s a good idea to save searches for your business name, as well. This can help you either a) catch complaints early on and reply to customers about technical issues and customer service snaffus or b) find praise about your brand to share and retweet to others. In either case, if you find someone mentioning your new tune ‘Breathing Hope’, it behooves you to follow them. They may not know you’re on Twitter, and following them gives them a means to send you direct messages privately. If they didn’t know you had a Twitter profile, it also offers them a reminder that they can tag you (i.e. @Mention you) when they mention you next time. Following those talking about your brands or other interests you share is a great way to build your Twitter audience with people who want to join in a conversation with you.
Also be sure to save a search with your name or product a variety of ways, as people may not @tag you or use your full title every time they mention your product. I have a saved search for both ‘Natalie Nicole Gilbert’ and ‘NatalieNicoleGilbert’; The latter helps me see when fans have posted links to my iTunes, Facebook or ReverbNation links, etc so I can thank them for spreading the word.
Speaking of offering thank yous, it’s also a great idea to check your retweets once or twice a week. You should be thanking fans and followers who retweet your links, quotes, random remarks, etc. Thanking them and mentioning them gives your followers a chance to get introduced to these great people. It’s a simple way to give some press to those who offer you free press, and raises the likelihood that they’ll do it again. Just click ‘Retweets’ and ‘Your Tweets, Retweeted’ to see who was kind enough to reshare your thoughts, then hover over an individual tweet that was retweeted and click on the ‘>’ sign to see who retweeted it. A simple tweet like “Thanks for the #ReTweet @SincerelyCupcak, @DanaChristoper, @IzzyLovesYou, and @GoldaRaphael! ;D” will do the trick.
You can also set up notifications on your profile settings so that you’re emailed when someone retweets or marks your tweet as a favorite, in case you forget to check. Just click on your username in the top right corner and select ‘Settings’, then ‘Notifications’.
Another great way to say thank you or highlight your colleagues is to give them a #ShoutOut on Fridays. This, too, is as simple as including their @names with a #FollowFriday and/or #FF hashtag. The hashtag makes them fully searchable for those looking for recommendations of who to follow on Twitter. In fact, adding a #FollowFriday or #FF saved search to your stash would hurt either, so you can find other recommendations of users to follow on #FollowFriday. There’s also a #MusicMonday or #MM weekly tag fest, as well as #WriterWednesday or #WW, and #SaturdayShoutouts or #SS. Numerous others exist and you can naturally create your own; the main thing is to be consistent. When I worked at KDAR, I announced our five featured songs on Fridays with the #5at5onFridays hashtag, and since I included that every week listeners could search all the previous related announcements with that same hashtag.
Your Timeline tab is, of course, your main Twitter feed that includes everyone you follow, as well as your own tweets. Even if you’re diligent about also putting everyone you follow in lists, don’t neglect checking this from time to time to see and reply to most recent tweets.
People are much more likely to follow a Twitter account that has active replies and mentions than a Twitter page that’s only siphoning off posts from Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and others. It’s great to link these social media accounts to save time when posting an update you want on every profile, but don’t rely on that as your primary means of updating your status. It’s like having a party elsewhere and only bringing your local followers leftovers and walking away. It communicates that you don’t really care about your Twitter profile or your Twitter followers, because you’re not sharing anything with them directly and exclusively.
Using a social media dashboard like HootSuite, Seesmic, TweetDeck and numerous others can help you track response and post updates in advance as mentioned in my last social article, TwitFaceTubeCircling.You can register for a free account at http://hootsuite.com/ that will let you manage up to five different social media accounts – whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, the essentially defunct MySpace, or others – in one place. If you do post in advance, be sure to acknowledge replies and responses to those tweets when you next login.
For those of you using Google+ in conjunction with Twitter and others, here are a few helpful links:
GPlus.to – Shortens your Google+ Profile link to something easier to share like GPlus.to/NatalieNicole instead of https://plus.google.com/105941133506943777008.
www.Group.As – Points you to other groups of Google+ users to add to your circles.
http://gplus.sagg.im/- Enables you to share your Google+ updates simultaneously on your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Just link acounts with their step by step instructions, then add ‘Agent G’ specifically to any posts you want to also display on Twitter and Facebook.
Last but not least, be sure to check your total Followers list from time to time (weekly if not daily) to follow back the users who’ve followed you. If you spot a spammer or bot, you can block them or report them for spam from the drop down menu there in your followers list. You can also receive email notifications when people follow you as a reminder to follow them back quickly. If days, weeks or months go by and you haven’t followed them back, you may show up in their @TwitCleaner reports as a person who doesn’t follow back, and they may unfollow you.
Questions? Ask away.