Why do some people rise to the top of Twitter and some people are destined for the dregs? Being “good at Twitter” can look really effortless, but seem exhausting to execute. And while Twitter has no gatekeeper, gaining access to another tier of Twitter can appear to be an impossible task.
Is Twitter this important to be good at, anyway? The short answer: yes.
The longer answer is that Twitter is one of the top three places anyone will look for more information about you or your company, not mention it’s beginning to factor into Google search in a major way. And you should embrace it. Twitter is perhaps the best platform for personal branding, the place where you get to have a real voice that can reach an enormous audience. No matter what your niche, Twitter probably has a community for it.
And it doesn’t have to be a mysterious thing. Keep these 7 reminders above your desk or on a notepad for reference, and you’ll earn a solid Twitter following in no time.
There’s nothing less appealing on social media than inauthenticity, and Twitter is not a place for posing. How do you know inauthenticity? It’s hard to describe, but it’s much like pornography: you know it when you see it. A good test of a tweet is to ask yourself if you can picture saying it out loud to a friend or acquaintance. Does it sound like you? Would you be embarrassed to say it out loud? Would your friend be interested in hearing you say it? The bottom line here is don’t tweet what you think you should tweet or what others are tweeting. Tweet what feels most real to you. That authenticity will come through.
There is nothing worse than an inconsistent tweeter, and nothing is more likely to get you unfollowed than by being dormant for a few weeks and blasting off on Twitter one day. Followers follow you because they like what you have to offer, and those who regularly clear their lists and purge people will quickly realize your inconsistency. Decide early on what time of day you like to tweet and/or how many tweets you want to try to hit per day, and make sure you meet that mark. Helpful tip: use the drafts function in the mobile app to save tweets to push out later, or use a tool like HootSuite or Sprout Social to schedule tweets.
This can only be answered after you define your personal brand, and that might come after a few weeks or months on Twitter, trying to find your community. Don’t be deterred if you don’t find it right away, but do follow a trail. If you find a tweeter you like an identify with, see who they follow, who they retweet, which tweets they favorite. Build a list that way, or search by topic and hashtag. Once you figure out what community on Twitter you want to be a part of, figure out what kind of content will be useful to that community. Links? Commentary? Humor? Discounts? It will likely be a mix, but figure out that mix and make sure you’re hitting all the high points.
This can’t be stressed enough: don’t comment on everything. Sometimes Twitter can look like a place where people go to express outrage over every single news item, and you do not by any means have to participate in that. Decide what’s important to you or your brand, and add your commentary to that. But don’t completely ignore current events. If a major tragedy has occurred, it’s going to look awkward and in poor taste for you to be commenting on something brand-related. You’ll also need to keep up with new ways Twitter members are using the platform. For example, in recent months members have been copying links to specific tweets, and sharing those links in their tweets with commentary. Now, if you aren’t using tweet links that way, you look like you don’t know how to use the platform. The bottom line here is to always pay attention, but don’t feel pressure to comment on everything. If you make paying attention a regular habit, being current on Twitter will be a breeze.
Don’t forget that Twitter is not a vacuum. Twitter lives and dies on engagement, and while it can seem daunting at first, don’t be too afraid to reach out to members of your community. Tweet back at leaders in your community and you might be surprised at how they respond. Tweet at community members if you find something they’ve contributed to be useful or important, or if you have something to add. Twitter is the world’s conversation, a digital cocktail party, and everyone’s there without a date. Don’t be afraid to go up to someone you don’t know who looks interesting and try to find common ground.
Be a Good Community Member
If people start noticing you, a good rule of thumb is what I like to call AB-CAM (Always Be Checking @ Mentions.) Turn on notifications for @ mentions and respond quickly and kindly when someone tweets at you. Respond to healthy negative comments. Thank those who praise you. Share your good news, and share others’ good news as well. Be someone who is a cheerleader, and other Twitter members will be grateful.
Yes, be real. But also be real tactical. Personal branding exists somewhere between the natural state of things and a full-on strategy. Once you get the hang of how you want to use the platform (and this may take a while; be patient) and what your true voice is, never forget that it’s a tool for branding, and it’s visible to everyone. Don’t tweet under the influence, and don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable with your boss seeing. But don’t tweet like a robot, either. Tactical authenticity is a tough balance to strike, and you’ll make mistakes along the way, but if you think of it as your goal, you’ll be well on your way to Twitter success.