Being good at Twitter
is about being good at people.
Unless you are simply retweeting vines, celebrities or brands, Twitter is about establishing a connection with others. It’s a daily stream of listening, debating, sharing, and commenting with those you know and who you want to know. Just as there are social conventions in the offline world around conversation and social interaction, Twitter has its own little nuanced playbook.
What follows below is a mix of tips ranging from dealing with other citizens to using the actual product.
This is a biased list. It largely emanates from how I use the service and how I would enjoy seeing others do so. Take what you will.
- Go easy on the hashtags. Stop optimizing for re-targeting and bot followers, optimize for the clarity and sincerity of thought towards others.
2. Just favorite and listen — don’t crash the party. Know your place. Know your place doesn’t mean because you’re some inexperienced whipper snapper you have to twiddle your thumbs and sit back like a fly on the wall. Just employ a good gut call as to when you should chime in on an intense discussion between two heavy weights or a group of good friends. If it’s additive (providing an answer or clarifying), you’ve got the green light.
3. If someone directly engages with you, don’t shout over their head.
Generally it’s best to keep public back and forth conversation a direct 1v1. If you and I were at drinks having a nice discussion and then I said something that was debatable or wrong, you wouldn’t turn around and yell out your response to the entire room.
It does seem more appropriate when you’re trying to show someone or something more love “just look at how great this is” and incentives/feelings are aligned when it comes to getting more potential eyeballs.
4. Do acknowledge others. Limit the number of cold shoulders. Throw someone a fav for gods sake if they’ve spent time and energy answering two #lazyweb questions for you in the past month. If you are too busy to acknowledge someone, you may be too busy for Twitter.
5. Limit the chest pounding. #Humblebrags are on the decline.
6. Learn the trick with direct @ replies vs general tweets.
7. Don’t be a human Buffer. We want you, not your complete Instapaper and certainly not an RSS feed. We all have enough to read and watch, you putting a blue hyperlink with no commentary does little to make it more top of mind for your followers, friends and co-workers.
8. Show you’re a real human. Tech dad — joke about kids and having no sleep. “Millenial” — quite ok to hint that your Saturday morning is off to a bit of a slow start. Additional reading: The Mission is “To Be”, Not Brand and Authenticity Dammit
If you’re active on Twitter, a good proxy for how genuine and real you are is to ask yourself, “if I was to meet anyone for coffee, would they be taken by complete surprise by the things I was doing or saying while we were together?”
9. Follow a lot. Prune later. The cost of unfollowing people is almost zero…one click. Not finding her tweets funny, or his thoughts informative — no biggy, unfollow. It’s a lot harder to know who to follow and actually execute on that so be liberal with following and then selectively whittle down from there. Additional reading: Being an early adopter of people
10. Don’t auto-DM followers. If you’re doing that, you have a long way to go.
11. Have exciting news you want to share about your company or yourself? Great, I want to hear about it (that’s why I follow you). But I don’t want to see 6 RTs from all your press outlets. I’d prefer one RT and then a bit of color commentary as to why this new hire is amazing, how hard it was to raise this round, where you are going, what I can expect as a user or customer, etc. If we were introduced at a coffee shop the day of, you wouldn’t hand me six article print outs to describe why you’re on cloud nine.
Textbook from Nicholas Chirls.
12. Know how to ask good questions. If you can ask good questions, you can actually get them answered and learn something. Enough of those across a few months and you’ll earn a follow or at least be top of mind.
13. Read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People.
14. Help others. Connect individuals that need each other, an answer or a step in the right direction. If you aren’t doing this on a somewhat regular basis you are either not following enough people to surface these opportunities or you aren’t listening closely enough. Mentally log what you read and try to route that to appropriate people when it makes sense. Not restricted to using Twitter to do so. Additional reading: How to Bring Value
15. Utilize your Twitter history in other channels. Drive folks to your Twitter presence if it may help as a confidence builder and proof that you are who you claim you are. If you’ve got something good going, don’t be afraid to surface it. Additional reading: Getting a Handle on Identity
16. Use Twitter search effectively. More than half of your starting points and resources for personal questions are found within Twitter search. Post coming about this.
17. Utilize DM (direct messages) to go offline. A year of quality mutual banter and one of you is finally in the same city?…“hey Adam, in town next week. down to grab a beer?” boom. Enjoy your new friend and colleague.
18. Give people credit for the original finds. The Bloomberg piece about how Uber casually raises another billion…you probably don’t need to HT anyone. A classic 2011 blog post about product management that you see an industry friend share…ya, that’s all them. Give ’em a little love. Curation and digging for the good stuff is a skill these days.
19. Be an extension of your company, organization and simply provide more surface area for yourself. You are not the next Arbys or ComcastCares, you just need to be a personal touch point that acknowledges real live humans are loving, hating or commenting on something that you work on.
20. Just listen. Many of these points above are action-oriented and specific to tweeting. You can throw all this to the wind as you long as you follow the right people and check in once a day to see what your customers, colleagues, peers, mentors and friends are doing. HT to @maxbulger for this point. // Additional reading: Finding my tribe by Ben Basche