I’ve been taking some time lately to scan even more carefully profiles of new people I’m following. I’m seeing people do a lot of things that in my experience will not really make Twitter seem fun or even all that interactive. I thought I would pinpoint some of those items here as food for thought.
1. Do not try to get replies from Oprah Winfrey and Conan O’Brien: This is an extremely common strategy, in part because Twitter kind of sets you up for it by recommending accounts to follow. However, the chances of you getting a mention from these folks is extremely small, and in the end, your time could better be invested elsewhere.
2. Do not continually RT the “A-Listers” either: This is another common tactic that people who are new to Twitter try all the time. When I first started, I would RT posts by all kinds of people, thinking at the very least I’d get a thank you. Don’t bank on it. These folks get so many RTs that taking note of one person would be like telling a drop from the ocean that it was super duper. Not too likely.
3. Put a smiling face (particularly yours) in that profile picture box: If I see an egg where your face is supposed to be, I’m not going to feel secure about whether you are real or a bot.
4. Fill out your bio: Tell me why I should follow you, whether it’s based on interests you have, what you’re hoping to achieve, or what kinds of puppies you like. But there should be something there.
5. Ask questions: Yes, at first you may not get any answers at all, but asking questions is a symbol of invitation. It’s saying, “Hey, I’d like your input.” It’s … social!
6. Don’t just list tons of A-listers for your follow Friday mentions: If you haven’t experienced Follow Friday yet, it’s essentially meant to be a day when you say, “Hey, I think you should follow this person because…” Instead, a lot of people do this: #ff @soandso @xyz @qrs @tuv etc ad infinitum. If you list 15 “big names,” you aren’t really accomplishing much except probably driving those folks nuts. List one person who maybe took the time to answer your questions that week. It’ll make their day.
7. When you tweet out a blog post, try to include the person’s Twitter handle: It can be frustrating to go to the trouble of promoting someone and then never get an acknowledgment of your efforts. However, if you don’t include someone’s Twitter handle, they may not see what you’re doing. Everybody wins if you include the person’s Twitter ID!
8. Try to reply to people more than sending out tweets of your own: When I was new to Twitter, I would essentially sit there and send out profound (ha ha) thoughts hoping someone would converse with me. It’s much more effective to go out and respond to other people.
9. Find someone you admire and scan their follow list: It can be hard to know who to follow when you get started. Think of someone you admire, go to the list of people they’re following, and see if any of those people look interesting to you. You already know you have a friend in common.
10. Don’t talk about business all day every day: I thought Twitter was meant to be button down serious all of the time. I was shocked when I saw someone talking about Monty Python in my Twitter stream, but noticing that also changed my entire experience. Loosen up, at least some of the time.
11. Don’t be overly vile and obnoxious: Generally, if you have inappropriate content in your bio, your Twitter handle, or a lot of your tweets, I’m not going to follow you or follow you back. Pretend that Twitter is an extension of your office. If you talk that way at work, well…that’s fodder for a different post!
12. Send out what you want to get back: If you do nothing but promote yourself, you are likely to get followers who predominantly like to promote themselves. If you engage with others, you are likely to get followers who will engage with you.
13. Interact with people in the blogosphere: This is not intuitive, but blogs and blog comment areas give you a chance to see people communicating in more than 140 characters. Get to know people better in other places and it becomes easier to interact with them on Twitter.
14. Say thank you instead of RTing: I’m not going to say that RTing something positive about yourself is a bad idea, but saying thank you shows a little more thought going into your response (typing versus hitting “Retweet”).
15. Don’t tweet about how boring you are: I really don’t understand this one. Self-deprecating humor doesn’t tend to work too well on Twitter, I’ll just say that. If you tweet negatively about yourself, the response is more likely to be, “Thanks for the heads up. Avoiding you now.”
16. Don’t try to stir trouble: You might get attention if you do this, but it will be negative attention, and that’s a pretty shaky foundation on which to build your online house.
17. Be honest: That being said, it’s okay to be a straight shooter. If you disagree with a tweet or a blog post, say so with civility. Debate can be a great way to show people who you really are.
18. Don’t worry so much about “best practices:” I know it’s tempting to think that there’s a one size fits all solution to Twitter, but there isn’t. The best overriding rule – don’t tick people off. Beyond that, you really need to set up your own Twitter reality based on how you want it to be.
19. Try to @ someone every 3 tweets: When I am looking at whether to follow you and I click over to your profile in the web Twitter interface, I see your 3 most recent tweets. This has inspired me to contemplate trying to talk to people 3x more than I tweet out things of my own. Show that you’re engaging.
20. Promote other people at least 5x more than yourself: If I want to tweet out a blog post, I try to promote at least 3 other posts first. If I want to send out my post again, I try to find 3 more ways to promote other people. You don’t have to be orthodox about the number. It’s the concept that matters.
These are 20 recommendations I have on how to make Twitter more enjoyable, especially if you’re new to the whole Twitter world.
What would you add?
Image by Graham Briggs. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/getwired