Twittering Tweets to My Tweeps, 10 Tips for Using Twitter

new_birdI’ve been using Twitter for quite awhile now.  I had an account (@shanevanderhart) for almost a year before I started using it.  My first thought was this is like for Jr. High kids.  I just thought of stupid tweets that one could send out.  “I’m in the kitchen!”  “I’m eating a sandwich.”  You know share your life in minute increments like some kid with ADHD.

Well obviously it took off, and now all the cool kids have Twitter – which means I should probably get rid of my account.  Actually I manage several Twitter accounts now.  I have one for Caffeinated Thoughts (@CaffThoughts), one for Serve Our Youth Network (@serveouryouth), I help administer two for American Principles Project (@approject and @apaction) one for my church, Grace Fellowship (@gfdesmoines) and one for Truth in American Education (@TruthinAmEd).

I am by no means a Twitter expert,  but I’ve learned some things along the way.

  1. Nobody cares about location tweets or “what I’m doing” tweets.
  2. I don’t need to follow everybody back, especially if they have a gazillion followers.  My goal on Twitter is not to accumulate so many followers I take on the appearance of being a pseudo-celebrity.  It amazes me when I have somebody follow me who is relatively unknown follow me and they have some 30-50 thousand followers.  I read their tweets and ask – why?  They’re usually the people who deem themselves to be “social media experts & consultants”, etc.  I avoid following people like that, and I find I usually get dropped in a day or two which tells me they have an app doing the following and unfollowing for them.  Follow those who interest you.
  3. Do follow people back – I know it seems like I just contradicted myself here, but if you never follow people back you come across as a Twitter diva, and unless you’re a well known celeb it just comes across as arrogant.
  4. Use lists – it is so much easier to keep up with and scan the tweets of people you’re following.  I have lists like “Politicos/Political Orgs,” “NewsMedia,” “IowaTweeps,” etc.  Just following the home feed if you have a lot of people you’re following is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant.
  5. Use third party apps to help make you more efficient on Twitter.  A lot of people I know use Tweetdeck.  I used to.  I’m especially glad I didn’t use it yesterday.  I currently use Hootsuite.  I like Hootsuite for a couple of different reasons.  It features tabs, so I can set up different tabs per account.  I can also use it not only for my Twitter accounts, but for Facebook, Facebook pages, and LinkedIn.  I also like that I can set up different RSS feeds via Hootsuite to feed into my accounts.  I also use Twitterfeed for that, but I find it can be rather touchy, so I’m starting to use Hootsuite more for that.  I have to warn you.  Hootsuite does have free account, but it is rather limited.  If you only have three accounts you want to link to it fine.  I went ahead and did the paid account which allows for unlimited accounts.  I would only do this if you were managing numerous Twitter accounts and Facebook pages like I am.  Both Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to schedule posts, but I found the Tweetdeck one to be buggy.  This allows you to space out your tweets, plan a Twitter campaign, etc.  If you’re managing several accounts it helps you be more efficient.
  6. Content, content, content… people more and more are looking to Twitter to get caught up on the news.  If you blog and you’re not sharing your stuff you’re missing the boat.  Also make sure you RT (retweet) other people’s stuff as well so it isn’t all about you.  This is where an app like Twitterfeed and Hootsuite among others is great because it will tweet out your blog posts automatically when you update.  Also be sure to tweet out good articles you read.  I try, if possible, to use the author’s Twitter handle so they know I gave them a shout out.  There is another app out there that I’m just trying out that schedules content tweets for me.  I set up the times I want tweets to go out and it does it automatically.  It’s called Buffer.  You can also use this with Facebook and LinkedIn.  This has the potential to set up all your content tweets at one particular time during the day and it will space it out for you however you’d like so you can have a consistent social media presence throughout the day.  The free version is limited as it only allows three accounts.  Ten bucks a month will allow you to have multiple accounts.  I’m just giving this a spin so the verdict is still out.
  7. Engage your followers.  Be sure to thank people for RTs (retweets), respond when people Tweet to you.
  8. Use #hashtags.  This helps with people trying search for different topics.  You may want to find out what hashtags are associated with the content of your tweet.  During the Iowa Caucus for instance I used #iacaucus a lot.  People looking for Iowa Caucus tweets would go there and my tweets would be listed.
  9. Try to tweet at least once or twice a day otherwise you’re pretty boring.  I mean it’s only 140 characters, come on how hard is that?  It’s hard to believe that some people have a Twitter account and only update it once a week, I’ve seen some where they only Tweet once a month.  What’s the point of having a Twitter account then?
  10. Twitter is meant for Web 3.0.  If you have a smartphone, have a Twitter account, but don’t have a Twitter app you’re missing out.  There are a lot of good free apps for Blackberry, Android and iPhone phones.

There are plenty of ways to make your Twitter experience fun and efficient.  Happy Tweeting!

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