140 characters may not seem like much, but when used properly they can lead to personal connections and meaningful conversations. Here we share some of the best ways to use your Twitter account to really connect with others.
Unfortunately, when you are using Twitter ineffectively you miss out on a lot of the best conversations that happen, and you might be left with some questions — where do people find hilarious tweets? How do people get re-tweeted? How do you actually communicate with people using this platform? Why isn’t anyone paying attention to you?
Twitter isn’t intended to be a personal journal or to shout your opinions into a void — it’s meant to be an ongoing conversation between you and Twitter’s other 236 million active users.
There are a lot of reasons you should use Twitter. While it gets some flack, Twitter can become one of the Internet’s most meaningful social media platforms when you curate your feeds, target your tweets, and use the service effectively. The changes to the way you use Twitter may be small, but they can have an enormous impact on how you feel about the social media platform.
Who Should I Follow?
The best people to follow on Twitter aren’t the ones that the app will suggest to you immediately. Start by following the people whose thoughts you already enjoy – whether you know them in real life, through their writing online (psst — here’s a great list of Make Use Of authors), through your industry or interests, or by their reputation. You may also want to follow your mentors on Twitter, or follow accounts dedicated to news in your field or area of interest so that you are up-to-date on what’s happening.
When you build your following list off of a strong base, you are guaranteed to see things in your Twitter feed that are interesting to you, and it will give you an “in” into the conversations happening online that you are interested in and want to be a part of.
Once you have your base group established, you can add to it over time by including Twitter users that you enjoy interacting with. It’s important to mention that just because someone follows you does not mean that you need to follow them back — keep your Twitter feed limited only to the people you actually want to hear from!
What Should I Tweet?
It’s a lot easier to tell someone to come up with quality 140-character messages than it is to actually put that into practice.
Honestly, not every Tweet that you send out into the world is going to be eagerly received with open arms and praise. Use your Twitter to be supportive, to share important information, to share knowledge that you possess — and do all of this in a tone that’s intended to make Twitter a better place to be online!
If you’re unsure of how to get started, here are some easy ways to provide quality content:
- Retweet. If you don’t have words of your own at the moment, you might as well share someone else’s! Retweeting is a great way to second someone’s opinion and is another fantastic way to make the acquaintance of other people on Twitter.
- Share Links. Twitter is an amazing way to share the resources you love with people who have opinions you respect, or who could also benefit from what you have learned. Don’t share just the link alone — all links on Twitter are shortened to 22 characters max, leaving you with plenty of space to add a comment or to give a shout out!
- Join Conversations. If people really wanted their Twitter conversations to be private they would send a direct message or use another form of social media! If you see a conversation happening on your feed and you have an opinion or additional information to offer? Jump right on in!
How Should I Tweet?
The most complicated part of using Twitter effectively is understanding the culture surrounding its use. The Twitter community has quickly created its own rules for conversation and hashtags, and its important to follow these rules!
Hashtags are everywhere you look on Twitter, but there are implicit rules for using Hashtags properly. Try to limit the number of hashtags you use in a single tweet to a maximum of three. Hashtags are used to link your tweets to ongoing conversations or topics, and it is rare that a single tweet would be relevant in more than three conversations at once!
Keep an eye out for hashtags that are used for discussions in your industry or areas of interest – many television shows will have an assigned hashtag or two, entire industries may have specific hashtags for ongoing use, and it is now incredibly common for events to have hashtags assigned to them as well.
Handles (usernames) are another key component of effective Twitter use. You can easily tag another user in a tweet by tweeting “@” their handle. This notifies the user and is a great way to directly engage them in a conversation.
While you might not get a reply from social media giants or celebrities, this is a great (and unthreatening!) way to reach out to people you respect and to get their opinion.
Remember that any tweet that starts with the “@” sign will not show up in your followers’ feeds unless they follow both you and the person you are tagging! To avoid this, it’s common to start a tweet tagging another individual with punctuation so that the tweet retains its visibility!
How Do I Gain Followers?
Success on Twitter shouldn’t be measured by the number of followers you have, but on how engaged you are with the communities that you care about online. Numbers are a bonus, and are almost guaranteed to come with using the platform effectively!
With that being said, numbers are important — especially in careers that care about your social media proficiency and popularity. The best way to gain followers on Twitter isn’t a “follow back” scheme or begging people more famous than you for retweets. While it’s boring, the best chance you have for gaining followers that care about who you are and what you have to say is to consistently provide quality tweets and to interact with as many people in your area of interest as possible.
One great way to draw in additional followers is to link your Twitter handle to your existing social media pages (think: blog posts, author bios, Facebook pages, Tumblr posts, LinkedIn, or Instagram) so that people who follow you on other platforms can find you on Twitter as well. You may also want to consider having a consistent handle that you use across platforms so that your accounts are easily found by those searching for your profiles.
The main lesson to be learned is that Twitter isn’t a popularity contest, no matter what what the prevailing opinion is right now.
Like all other forms of social media, Twitter is a tool — and it’s a tool that can have incredible personal and professional benefits when it is used effectively. By avoiding common Twitter mistakes, and focusing on building conversations and community you will get more out of Twitter, whether you have thirty followers or thirty thousand!
What are some of your best tips for using Twitter effectively? Do you agree that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to tweets and followers?