When I stumbled upon Twitter 54 months ago, I was bemused, flummoxed, and even curious. What is this social network that keeps me to 140 characters, sounds like a bird, and seems . . . well . . . pointless?
I tweeted here and there and collected 31 followers in 90 days of meandering. I even followed people with large Twitter tribes on topics as diverse as food, photography, and politics. Malcolm Turnbull, the local senator, must have thought I was a Twitter groupie.
Luckily, he didn’t report me for stalking.
My progress on Twitter was slow, confused but persistent. Despite this, I continued to tweet, retweet, and play. My curiosity was undiminished.
Obsession on Twitter is not unknown. Some people, such as Jennifer Aniston’s boyfriend at the time, tweeted so much that she decided that he loved Twitter more than her.
She moved onto boyfriend number 27.
Twitter is more powerful than you think.
Twitter’s sometimes chaotic nature does make managing the torrent of tweets seem like herding cats. It is essential that you plug your Twitter account into a management tool such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. This will help you manage your stream with lists of people and hashtags that categorize topics.
The real power of Twitter is that you can build a follower base that allows you to share a focused stream of content, adding value to your followers’ daily lives. There are no fancy Facebook “Edgerank” algorithms to throttle your tweets and choke your content distribution. It’s pure and wild. I like that.
So what are some fundamental principles that you should embrace if you want Twitter to work for you?
The 10 Commandments of Twitter
Here are 10 commandments that may guide you to the Twitter promised land of a large and loyal following, that engages with you and shares your content with speed and velocity.
(Moses used this phrase, so I thought that I couldn’t go wrong if I borrowed the phrase “Thou shalt”)
1. Write a meaningful “bio” description
If you are using Twitter for purely personal reasons then go crazy and knock yourself out with a crazy and cute bio. If you are serious, then make sure that when people read it they know in a heartbeat what you are about.
2. Have a link
I don’t know how many times I have looked for a link to take a deeper dive into a Tweeter to see what they do and where they have come from—but get stymied. If you don’t have a blog then take them to your Linked account or Facebook page. Let them discover the real you. The bio is just the start.
3. Be focused
Build a tribe of Twitter followers who are passionate and interested in your topic of interest. That can be done with tools such as Tweepi or Twellow.
4. Automate where appropriate
This may seem evil to some, but as you grow your follower base things like following back become time consuming and unmanageable. Automate the boring tasks such as content distribution and follow back but not the conversation and engagement.
5. Not neglect Twitter
Keep the stream of Tweets rolling out so that followers see activity and content. Keep that activity going. Do this at a level that you are comfortable with. It is different for everyone. Remember it is a tool not a religion.
6. Use Hashtags
Hashtags allow you to put content into followers’ accounts that are topic driven and organized. If you are interested in blogging, for example, then include a tweet with the hashtag #blogging. It will lead to increased awareness and sharing of your tweets.
7. Manage with a tool
The Twitter eco-system of tools and apps evolved because Twitter kept its network simple. It has been effective and part of its charm. To manage and monitor both the tweets and the people you interact with on Twitter, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck should be used.
8. Brand your Twitter account
Ensure that when people trip up on your Twitter account they recognize your brand that is on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. My caricature works for me. Consistent branding is good.
9. Use Twitter sharing and subscribe buttons on your blog
Make it is easy and obvious for people to share your content on your blog with obvious Twitter buttons at the top of your article. Make sure they can follow you on Twitter with buttons that don’t confuse and, again, are in a position that is prominent.
10. Write the best headline you can
As Twitter has only 140 characters, your tweets should be written with the best headlines you can muster. Learn and practice this skill until your fingers hurt and your mind burns. You only have 2 seconds to capture their attention until they click away. What About You? What commandment resonates with you? What have I left out? Maybe we could come up with 20 but I ran out of time!
Published: May 13, 2013