February 26


The Ultimate User’s Guide to Twitter

A common question I hear from potential new customers is, “How many new followers can we expect?”
I can provide an accurate estimate, but that equation is also impacted by how well you do Twitter.
How does someone do Twitter?
There is no manual for such a thing, but here are the ways that I have found to work for me across a wide variety of Twitter accounts.

How to Follow Back

People follow you on Twitter, most are hoping to be followed back. Following back ensures what will typically be a lengthy connection between you both.
Some people feel inclined to follow back everyone that follows them. There were even apps (since outlawed by Twitter) that allowed people to do that automatically.
But following everyone that follows you, while maybe the kind thing to do, is ultimately a bad idea. Let me tell you why.
Not everyone that follows you in Twitter is worthy of being followed back. There I said it.
The best rule is to follow back anyone who truly is in your niche, has a quality account, and appears to be a quality individual (or organization).
Avoid following back the junk accounts such as:

  • Mr. Roboto — accounts that are not even real people (after awhile you can spot these out a mile away).
  • Desperate Housewives — people that are following loads of people, with few of their own followers, and are just fishing for quick and easy growth.
  • New Kid in Town — you can follow back if you feel sorry for them, but I rarely do follow back new accounts. I prefer to only follow back proven accounts, unless the person is very heavily targeted to me.
  • Spam Sandwich — you know the people that all they do is talk about themselves and try to sell you their crap? Ignore these people.

Which one of these accounts do you perceive to be more influential?
hootsuite twitter
the onion twitter
Why not follow everyone just to be a nice guy or gal? A few reasons:

  1. Your are judged by your ratio. The more followers you have in comparison to the people you are following = your perceived value. This may not be fair, but this is how many will judge you — at least initially.
  2. The fewer people you are following, the more people you (or TribeBoost working for you) can follow to try to initiate some new connections and gain new followers.

Say Thank You

I try to always say thank you to anyone who retweets one of my blog posts or mentions me or my brand in a kind way.

This is something that does not scale well and takes time, so I tend to respond in bulk late at night or when

I need a quick break from real work.

Why do this? Well it is polite for one, good karma for another, and it shows that you are human. Being human on Twitter is important as we have reviewed before.

Answer Questions

If someone asks you a question on Twitter, you best answer it and try to quickly. Twitter is a real-time platform and if you answer the question several days later, it is nearly as bad as never answering the question at all.

When I am on the other end of a question and get nothing but crickets, it is nearly 100% certain I will never do business with this person or brand ever. That is not a good thing.

But when I do get answers back, especially in a timely way, it makes an impression.

So keep this in mind, it is an easy way to impress someone and be helpful. Several of my biggest clients started out as unknown people asking questions about TribeBoost on Twitter.

Have a Good Avatar

Having a good avatar is important. A well-cropped and clear head shot is typically the most effective thing to use. Smiling seems to help too.

Avoid animated gifs, cartoony images, or anything that could possibly offend someone or conjure negative emotions.

Here is the avatar for the highest follow back ratio of any of our current clients. Not saying the avatar is the complete cause, as she is a quality person with a great Twitter feed.

I do think the well-cropped photo, interesting background, and great smile do help attract people.

Have a Good Bio

Your bio is incredibly important and should work from a number of different angles. Make sure you put some thought into it.
Here are some good guidelines for your bio:

  1. Someone should have a good idea about what it is you do or are looking to do after reading it.
  2. It should be obvious what kind of tweets I can expect. If your bio make this hard to decipher, then explicitly state “I like to tweet about X and Y.”
  3. Don’t describe yourself like you would within a resume. Think about what kind of people you are looking to attract and describe yourself in a way that merges well with those types.
  4. Think about keywords. People search through bios, make sure you are using commonly used terms that people are searching for often.
  5. Make use of the space. I am not saying to junk up your bio with every hashtag known to man and woman. But if you have not listed any hashtags and have available space — at least include the most popular one in your field. Use http://hashtagify.me for your hashtag research.

Have a proper location

Don’t be cute here. You do not need to list “Wonderland” or “Down the Rabbit Hole.”

Just list your town and state or province, etc. Again think about people running searches. If you leave the location field blank and someone is looking for people in your town to connect with, guess who does not show up?

How to Tweet

I constantly see blog posts talking about the best days, hours, or even minutes to tweet. I personally think that is a bit over-analyzed. I do not focus so much on the times of day, or what days. Instead I just try to stick by these rules:

  • Try to tweet regularly. Retweet special tweets, share great blog posts, and talk about your ideas. Do not be too active either — you can be too active in my view.
  • Talk about others and try not to talk about yourself.
  • Do not push your products or services. People hate that. If they want to buy from you, they know how to reach you.
  • Be polite, even if baited…never go down the path of argument.
  • Be positive. Positive tweets perform much better than negative tweets. Lift us up, don’t bring us down.

Don’t be a Twit

TribeBoost works hard for my own accounts every day, following interesting people and hopefully making some new connections for me.

But there are some people that are so worried about being followed by robots, that they set up a barrier to make you prove you are human.
This is something called TrueTwit and in my view anyone who uses this is a true twit. You just required me to do something extra and manual to get connected with you. Really? Are you that special?

I just ignore these people, and they have lost a potential new connection. I will not be back to try again. This is stupid and a loss for both of us.

Automated Direct Messages are Cheesy

So many people do this that it must be effective for some — but I think many people are annoyed by this.

When I receive these I always ignore them. In fact it became so common that I have made it so I never get emailed about direct messages at all. There are just too many of them coming in and who needs more email to filter through? I know I don’t.

Automated direct messages just feel tacky, spammy, and unnecessary to me. I know the idea is to make me feel special and elicit conversation. But when these messages come the very second after I follow you, I realize I am not special at all. You are sending this out to everyone and my opinion of you just went down a notch.

If you want to try to get a conversation going, I would suggest just sending a direct tweet instead. And type it by hand. You will have better success and actually achieve your intention.

These are the Twitter guidelines that have served me well over the past few years. What did I miss? What rules are serving you well?


avatar, followers, following, tweets, Twitter

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