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Twitter 201: Moving Beyond the Basics

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Twitter has many nuances that can make it seem overwhelming when you're new. Now that you've mastered the basics, what's next? My friend Tara Kusumoto had some questions for me on how to use Twitter beyond the basis so I thought I'd share the questions and answers with you. I hope this Q & A will help demystify Twitter and find what's next to help your Twitter account flourish.

From Tara: In my opinion, there are plenty of posts/resources out there about Twitter 101 (the basic how-to's, posting, etc.) I'm not a total newbie, instead, where I (and many of my colleagues/friends) need help is more around Twitter 201: how to be more engaging and more efficient when interacting on Twitter. And as a subset, I'm curious about which specific tools to use to be more targeted and focused with the type of Tweets I'm seeing/interacting with.”

Twitter 201 Moving Beyond the Basics

Below are Tara's questions, which fit under the umbrella of “improving how to really engage with people” in this Twitter 201 post.

Question 1— What is your advice for effectively creating/using lists?

Twitter lists focus your time so they are important in that they help you be more efficient. The key to a good Twitter list is keeping them small about ten to twelve people per list is ideal. I like to give my lists fun names but keep your lists targeted and specific. Keep in mind that the people you add to your lists will see the titles so you want to be professional. Also, you'll want to use names that will help you find them for future usage so don't just number them. Be specific.

Some suggestions for lists:

1. People you want to tweet every time you're on Twitter

2. Relevant people in your industry

3. New people you just met (People I want to get to know – rotate this list)

4. Blogs you like to follow

5. People who tweet great content that you can retweet

Question 2— What tools do you use to help manage/filter so much information and make sure you're seeing what's most important?

I have certain columns that I keep open in TweetDeck that organize my Twitter experience.

1. Mentions

2. Notifications

3. My fab people list that I want to follow closely.

4. Hashtag column if I'm working on something targeted.

I start by replying to my Twitter mentions as I try to respond to everyone that tweets me. I do my best to respond to questions and thoughtful tweets. This processes evolves over time. If you have a blog and it hopefully becomes more popular, it isn't practical or smart to simply tweet a “thanks” tweet to each person that has shared your blog posts. It makes your Twitter stream look spammy to people who check your tweets.

I also look through the notifications to see if new people have followed me as well as what content is being tweeted.

Question 3— Would you recommend using something like TweetDeck, HootSuite, Radian6 — just one or a combination?

I use TweetDeck for all my personal tweeting and have for years. I also use HootSuite for work on other accounts that I manage on social media. If you manage more than one account or profile, it's best to have the other accounts on separate Twitter clients then you know when you are on TweetDeck, you are tweeting your own personal tweets. If you're an individual tweeting, you don't need more than one. I would try Hootsuite and TweetDeck and see which interface appeals to you the most and does what you want.

Question 4— Can you offer some tips for the best way to track people who are high priority to follow/that you're most interested in?

I use Twitter lists for this but also go to people's Twitter page to make sure I don't miss tweets from my VIPs. I always make sure I follow people right away if I'm interested in them. If I'm on the go and receive a tweet that I don't want to miss responding to, I'll favorite it so I can go back to it. You can also email a tweet to yourself. You could also create a custom timeline in Twitter to track a topic or person. From Twitter: “There are four types of timelines available, all of which look and feel like timelines on”

Question 5— Like all social media, images are really important; what is the best way to include pictures?

I add photos to Twitter in a few different ways. I add them straight to a tweet in Tweetdeck and I tweet them from Pinterest. The correct size for Twitter is 2:1 aspect ratio, I've been using 876 pixels by 438 pixels. Here's an example of a tweet with an image that I sent with a larger image, it still looked awesome on Twitter and led to a great conversation with New York Times Best-selling author Chris Bohjalian about alpacas. I didn't even know he followed me. Random conversations like this are part of the charm of Twitter.

Question 6— Like Facebook and Pinterest, I can get really distracted by Twitter; just a quick search or Tweet and then an hour's passed! This is similar to my question above: any tips or tools for being more efficient with time spent on Twitter?

The best way to stay focused Twitter is to set a time limit and use a timer and use a task list. Sometimes I do both together. If I only have a short window of time, I respond to five or six people who've tweeted me. For my task list, I will:

  • Follow people back who've followed me after checking their bio
  • Tweet new followers
  • Find new people to follow
  • Unfollow people who've unfollowed me

Once a week, I use Social Bro to set the best times for tweets for the week. I have a complimentary version of Social Bro. It helps me focus on these tasks quickly and efficiently. You can send your “best times to tweet report” to HootSuite and Buffer. Use the “what your followers talk about” and “your followers top hashtags” to help you decide what type of content to tweet. social bro

Question 7— How frequently should you tweet?

Honestly, I tweet as much as I want and I don't really have a set amount of tweets per day. I schedule about eight tweets per day into Buffer, I carefully put this group together to have variety and make sure that my Twitter content is focused on things that fit my personal brand like marketing and social media how-to's. I also like to mix in random things that I think are fun or entertaining. Twitter should be fun, right? I try to respond to tweets two or three times per day and touch base with friends on Twitter. I also share content from tribemates on Triberr so I'll go in first thing in the day and schedule about five tweets to go out. Resource: What is Triberr? I will repeat certain tweets once or twice to reach certain time zones but I don't do that with all my tweets. I use Buffer's analytics that show my top tweets and repeat them. Top tweets in Buffer analytics

Question 8— What are the best tools for following conversations?

I use TweetDeck for everything including TweetChats. You can also try websites like Twubs to follow certain hashtags. Here is the Twubs page for #APEtheBook.


Question 9— How do you find, curate and share great content?

Answering this would be a whole post on its own! [pullquote]Following the right people on Twitter helps you find great content to share[/pullquote]. One really easy way is to sign up for an email list that Guy Kawasaki and I started called HASO to “help a socialist out” and make it easy for people to find great stuff to share. We're sending out a daily digest of great stuff we find. You can sign up here. Guy Kawasaki and I recently were guests on a workshop for Hubspot and shared our best tips for finding great content. This SlideShare provides lots of great information. To find great content, I recommended Pinterest, using Feedly and Goodreads.

I hope this gives you some ideas to bump up your Twitter activity, become more efficient and give you more time to have fun tweeting. Let me know if you have questions in the comments below. If you liked this article, please sign up to receive my blog by email when I post new content and share to your favorite social networks.

Article by Peg Fitzpatrick

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  1. whoah… I am saving this to Evernote. Thanks Peg for the twitter awesomeness. 1 more question – is it okay to post a lot of links via Twitter?

  2. jaredeasley  I post tons of links on Twitter. Personally, I try to provide value to the people that follow me so I share a variety of tweets but yes, lots of links.

    I follow Dan Zarella’s recommendations since he does so much research with Twitter.

  3. Another great article Peg!  Really made me think on how to use my Twitter list more effectively.  Thanks!

  4. Thanks for linking to my post about Triberr. It is a great tool as are many of the others you have listed here. I use SocialBro as well. It has quite a few different features and they keep adding new tools all the time

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