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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cynthia's Quick and Dirty 12 Rules for Using Twitter More Effectively

Twitter fascinates me. And I spend a lot of time on it. I decided to write a blog post on using Twitter because there are so many people who don't use it to its fullest capacity and don't seem to understand some basic things about it. If you know nothing about Twitter, then you should start by reading my earlier blog post about it. Today's article is for people who are already using it but want to use it more effectively.

The reason I'm allowed to have an opinion on this subject is because I've been on Twitter only 2 months and have amassed 2200 "followers". I haven't used any gimmicks or weird or paid services to attract followers. I attracted them the old-fashioned way--just hard work. For what it's worth, I'm now ranked #6 in British Columbia by Twitter Grader and about the same by Twitterholic --if they knew I existed. See tools for understanding your significance on Twitter. I have regular people I interact with daily on Twitter. I recommend people to others and others recommend me.

So here are my Quick and Dirty Rules for attracting the most followers on Twitter. There are other things that may or may not work, but if you follow these rules, you will maximize your chances of attracting people.

1) On your personal Twitter profile page have a very descriptive bio.

Why? There are several reasons: having a descriptive bio makes you appear to be a live person. Twitterers abhor "bots" short for robots or automated presences on Twitter. Also using several key words enables people to find you in searches by looking for words like "reader" or "writer" or "candlestickmaker".

2) On your personal Twitter profile page upload a picture.

Why? Bots usually don't have photos. What are you hiding? People like transparency.

3) On your personal Twitter profile page fix up the background.

Use one of the free tools available to create something unique and attractive.

Why? Bots usually don't have pretty backgrounds. A personalized background makes you look more real and more permanent.

4) Have a few tweets on your page.

No one is going to follow you with zero tweets on your page. No one is going to follow without a recent tweet or at least half a dozen tweets because you look like a bot. I shouldn't say no one. A few people who don't evaluate the ones they follow might follow.

5) Follow everyone back who follows you. Except of course, obvious bots, spam, and porn.

Why? Because you will attract more followers. This is a controversial topic, but I have a strong opinion on this, and here is some support for my opinion. Most people are not willing to follow others who won't follow back. Who wants to listen to someone who is not interested in hearing what you have to say? NOT ME and not most others. A lot of people seem to think that what they have to say is so interesting that they don't have to follow people back and they will attract others by the tens of thousands just by existing. NOT TRUE. You're kidding yourself. Unless your name is Heather Armstrong or Conan or Craig Ferguson, most people don't give a rat's ass what you have to say if you're not willing to listen to them too.

So ask yourself this. Do I want a big presence on Twitter--for business, for example? Then you increase your probability of attracting people by following back.

The key here is to keep the "following" number higher than the "followers" number. ALWAYS. This becomes more difficult as time goes by--BUT DO IT ANYWAY. Let me use my own case as an example. At the time of this writing I am following 2252 people and I have 2223 following me. Of the people following me, there are about 100 that I don't follow--because they're bots, spammy or porn. That means that the people I am following who aren't following me back (YET) are about 130 even though it appears to be only about 30 (difference between following and followers). As people follow me at an increasing rate, I have to scramble more and more to keep ahead.

To those who say, "I can't make sense of such of big stream of incoming tweets," I respond, "then use Lists". That's how you set aside what you *really* want to listen to (read). If you don't want people to know what you're *really* listening to, then just make the lists private.

To those who say, "you're artificially inflating your numbers of followers," I say, "you don't know what you're talking about." This is real simple: you want lots of followers--then you have to follow a lot of people. PERIOD.

6) Be nice.

Why? People like it better and want to hear what you have to say. Thank people and suggest following people by name and publicly. That's how their name gets circulated. It helps them, and it helps you get the reputation as a nice person that others thank. It doesn't cost you anything extra to be nice--if that's not your nature.

7) Be positive.

Why? See above. Personally I get tired of a steady stream of saccharine quotes, but that's what most people like. There are a few exceptions, but most people don't want to read tweets that are mean-spirited and sarcastic and downers.

In real life do you want to hang out with Mr. Grumpypants or Mrs. Sunshine? Yeah, I thought so. Same thing on Twitter. So in the morning when I look and feel like roadkill I tweet things like, "and how are my twitter buddies this fine morning!" Why? because it's pleasant and that's what people want to hear. Moreover, if you talk like that enough, eventually you start to feel like that.

8) Don't be vulgar.

Every time I say "shit" as in "the weather is shitty in Vancouver" a handful of people unfollow me. If you don't care about that, then go for broke. If you're a business trying to amass followers, then don't do it.

Similarly don't have a "porn-ish" background to your page. People don't like it--unless you're trying to attract sex-offenders. Make your background "vanilla" flavored. Every time I see large breasts falling out of bikinis on background pages, I just roll my eyes and click away. Idiots.

9) Retweet.

Retweeting or RT'ing circulates peoples names, and gets you a reputation as a retweeter--that's a great thing. Everybody wants to be retweeted. I try to Retweet at least 2 or 3 things every day. I find it a waste of time and impossible to try to predict what others will retweet. Just be yourself. I'm always surprised by which of my tweets get retweeted.

10) Tweet something interesting.

Tweets like "I'm brushing my teeth." or "My toe hurts" or "I hate Democrats" are BORING and don't encourage people to follow you.

11) Engage other twitterers.

Ask questions and make comments with @ messages. It makes life interesting and encourages others to join in. It's good vibes and helps your overall reputation on Twitter. The fact is no one knows you exist until you talk to them.

12) Sometimes break your own rules.

Samer Forzley on Twitter @sforzley is an example of me breaking my own rules. I followed him not expecting him to follow me back. But I engaged him and asked him about an article he had written about Twitter. In fact, he was happy to follow me back and has turned into a really nice and helpful guy. You should follow him too.

There are also about 50 accounts that I follow even though I expect they will never follow me back (although one did recently to my surprise). These include a couple of well-known comedians and several news-feeds.

Follow these suggestions, and I know you will have more success on Twitter than you are having now. If you want to follow me @quinceandquilt on Twitter, I'd be delighted to follow you back.

Epilogue: The people who have been most helpful to me--getting me going on Twitter--are @agrevet and @keithborgnet and @trotlinedesigns These are folks who have spent (and still do spend) a lot of time explaining things to me so that I can make sense of them. I am very grateful to them.

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  • Really a nice and helpful peace of writing. I love spending time in Twitter too, both for what I learn from here and also for wonderful friends I make here everyday. Looking forward to interacting with you in Twitter.

    By Blogger Souravji, At March 11, 2010 at 4:14 AM  

  • Hey! This is really helpful! Thanks!

    By Blogger Andye, At March 12, 2010 at 9:40 AM  

  • Nice tips - thanks

    By Blogger ChangeRisk, At June 2, 2010 at 7:57 AM  

  • A young lady that goes by @cgraydc recommended you to a huge bunch of us over on Skype. We all hang out on the "Be Social" side of a new upstart social network called me2everyone. Love to have you come visit with us. We have several groups who are "in to" quilting and I am sure you would be more than welcome.

    If you wish, you may register through my portal at http://me2everyone.com/222268 and yes, I'll get a few brownie points if you do. Enjoyed reading your list and look forward to following you in the future.


    William Littlehales
    a.k.a. - @OldMrBill

    By Blogger William Littlehales, At September 11, 2010 at 7:59 PM  

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