How to get more value out of Twitter.
Let’s start with a clarification:
I’m not about to tell you how to go “viral” or get a million followers because neither of those things actually matter.
The biggest misconception about Twitter is that your goal should be to amass as many followers as possible and use it as a broadcast platform.
Don’t do that. It’s a crappy broadcast platform anyway.
Twitter’s real value is unlocked when you use it to identify and connect with people who can help you accomplish your goals.
Don’t chase followers — build relationships.
Here are four types of tweets you can use to do that.
- The Recommendations Tweet
The goal of your tweets isn’t to talk AT followers, but to spark conversations WITH them.
A Recommendations tweet is a perfect way to do this.
Pick a topic that’s relevant to your goals and ask your followers for recommendations related to that topic.
This will draw people into conversations while simultaneously spreading the word throughout the community of people interested in that topic…who happen to be the same people you’re looking to build relationships with!
Since I help artists and creators grow their audience, I asked my followers to recommend other sources of similar information.
Here’s the tweet:
I then followed that tweet up with a reply where I tagged a few specific people I know (to make sure they saw it) and encouraged them to share their suggestions.
Here’s what that tweet looked like:
It led to a bunch of good responses, introduced me to several people I didn’t previously know existed (and them to me), and connected me deeper into this community.
Apply this tweet format to your own topic of interest and you’ll likely see similar results.
- The Recap Tweet
You don’t always have to rack your brain to come up with 280-characters worth of wisdom in order to get value out of Twitter.
You can also build relationships through curated content, especially when you format them as Recap tweets.
A Recap tweet features content someone else created that you in some way summarize in a tweet.
Always credit the source of the information not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s strategically smart.
When you tag the original creator of the content in your tweet, that person will likely share it with their audience and get you more exposure to a relevant audience.
I’m currently reading a great book by Bobby Hundreds, so I tweeted about it:
You’ll notice I not only recommended the book, but actually featured two excerpts within the tweet — a photo featuring an interesting paragraph in the book and a quote excerpt in the text of the tweet itself.
This makes the tweet more valuable than it would be if I simply recommended the book because it now provides value to people even if they don’t actually read the book.
Since I tagged the author in the tweet— and he’s smart enough to pay attention to his Twitter mentions and acknowledge them — he replied, thanked me, and retweeted it to his 77,000 followers.
This Recap format can work with anything — books, articles, podcasts, videos, etc. — and is an easy way to deliver value and build relationships.
- The Retweet With A Comment
Most people who retweet stuff don’t retweet it with a comment and that’s a big mistake.
When you retweet without a comment and your followers share it with others, what they share is only the original poster’s tweet.
This means you get no attention from the transaction, even though you were the one who turned them on to the tweet!
But if you retweet with a comment and your followers share it, your profile and comment gets shared along with the original tweet and you get seen on every share of that tweet moving forward.
That can mean a lot more exposure for you and the opportunity for a lot more people to connect with you.
While you should try to retweet with a comment whenever possible, don’t just add a random comment like “This is cool” to your retweet.
Take advantage of the opportunity to actually add value in your comment because the whole aim is to give people a reason to be curious about who you are when they see your name.
I recently shared a tweet from Hamish McKenzie about social media and added my own thoughts on the subject as a comment when I retweeted it.
It generated several likes from followers that I wouldn’t have gotten had I simply retweeted it without a comment.
- The Reply
Replies may be the simplest and most consistently overlooked opportunity on Twitter.
Reply to as many tweets as you post (maybe even more?) because doing so is the best way to engage in conversations and build one-to-one relationships.
Reply to everyone who mentions you and/or your work whenever possible to show them you’re paying attention and appreciate it.
Always encourage more of the behavior you want, so if you like the idea of people talking about you and sharing your work then reward that behavior with a personal acknowledgement in the form of a reply.
But even if people don’t tweet about you, there are still ways to use replies to build relationships.
Don’t be shy about replying to the tweets of people you’d like to connect with — even if they don’t follow you.
When you do reply, aim to add value.
There’s nothing wrong with replying to tell someone you liked what they said or to thank them for sharing something, but ultimately you’ll get more out of trying to engage them in a real conversation about something or delivering them something of value.
When someone I don’t know recently liked one of my Medium posts, I looked up his Twitter account and tweeted at him to thank him.
I noticed he shared a lot of stuff related to basketball, so I sent him an article I found a couple months ago that I thought he might find interesting.
Here’s what it looked like:
Will doing this or using any of the tweet formats I suggest above instantly turn you into a Twitter superstar?
But they will increase your ability to build relationships with people who can help you get where you want to go and they’ll help you way more than a bunch of random followers ever would.
And that’s the point.