7 Easy Steps To Win At Twitter


How to win at Twitter

In the grand pantheon of social media platforms, each most definitely has its own character.

Facebook is a faithful old friend with whom I’ve shared many a good time over the years and holds a special place in my jaded and cynical heart. We don’t speak as much as we should, but whenever we do get together it’s as though nothing has changed. Quiet comradeship binds us and no matter what else changes, Facebook is always there.

Google+ is my new BFF (as the kids, I believe, would style it). G+ was a friend-of-a-friend and, on paper, we have little in common at first glance, yet we have bonded astonishingly quickly over a shared love of certain mutual interests. So compatible are we that I now spend more time with G+ than with some of my older acquaintances. We just work together, you know?

Pinterest. Ahhhhh, Pinterest Can you hear the sighs? Pinterest is the pretty, intriguing-looking newcomer who I worship from afar, too scared to approach for fear of finding I have nothing of interest to share with her. There she is, all fresh and lovely and multi-faceted and what do I have to offer up? Nothing but my stories. One day Pinterest and I may share lunch, but that day is not today.

And then we have Twitter.

Twitter is akin to my least-favourite Aunt when she’s been at the gin. Over-talkative, self-interested, somewhat raucous, frequently confusing and occasionally rude. You have to know how to handle her or you’ve had it. At least Twitter has never relieved itself in my wardrobe or fallen asleep on the cat.

I used to hate Drunken Aunt Twitter with a vengeance. I ignored her for many a year and thought myself the better for it. However… I was wrong – not a phrase I use very often! If you approach Twitter with an open mind and a clearly-defined strategy, you will find that it all begins to fall into place. The one major proviso is that you need patience and a plan that you will stick to.

And let’s be realistic – Twitter isn’t for everyone. If you try it and don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again. Just give it a shot for a while before despairing. With that in mind, allow me to present you with an introductory set of tactics which will help you keep Aunty on the rails.

1. Spruce It Up
Has your bio had a spring clean recently? You have a limited space in which to make an impression, so make it count! The first thing I do when deciding whether or not to follow someone is read their bio – if it’s dull, then off I pop without a second thought or a follow. Here’s mine by way of example. Yes, it’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but it tells you what you need to know and gives an idea of the kind of content you’re likely to get. And it also points to this very splendid blog, to help drive readers.

Find me on Twitter @jfcliffs

2. Mix It Up
In all probability, the next thing anyone will do is check out your timeline. Should they see nothing but a stream of your own tweets, about yourself, your books, your writing, your thoughts, your reviews… they’ll most likely think Auntie’s been at the Gordon’s again and really shouldn’t be followed. To avoid this, make sure you re-tweet interesting content and engage with other users. Re-tweets (you re-tweeting and you being re-tweeted) and @mentions/replies all appear on your timeline and help to break up the monotony of “me, me, me.” That’s why it’s called ‘Social Media’ after all. Not ‘Vainly Self-Obsessed Media’.

3. Don’t Spam, Never Spam, Do Not Spam, Don’t Spam
In case that’s not quite clear enough, please do not ever spam me. OK? Great! That means that if all I see from you are tweets yelling “BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK!!” or “My book’s only .99p and it’s really fab” I shall let loose the Badgers of Doom and give them your address. And a chisel.

4. Be More Followed Than Following
In the early days of Twittering, it’s very tempting (and quite natural) to follow as many people as possible in the hope that this will build an audience. This will cause you problems in the future. Because unless you’re already a big name, your own following will take time to grow. During that time, you will still be increasing the number of people you follow, albeit more slowly. By the laws of mathematics, you end up following a larger number of users than are following you. And that just never looks quite right. It can make you look slightly desperate and not as interesting as you should be. I hold my hands up to the fact that I am only now redressing this balance myself.

5. Follow Wisely Young Grasshopper
In order to assist with the follower balance above, do not engage in the practice of automatically following back anyone who follows you. Now, I grant you, it feels lovely and cosy and warming when someone follows you and you generally want to run round to their house with a slice of battenburg and run them a bath. But resist. First hop on over to their profile and see if they have ever said anything you find remotely interesting/amusing/blackmailable (kidding!!) If not, then why follow them? You have already snared this particular rabbit and they will get to see your outpourings of wisdom and share these with their followers. Avoid unnecessarily inflating your Following count.

6. Timing Daddy-O, Timing
When do you get the most re-tweets? Anybody? No? No hands going up? OK then… find out. There is a lovely service called Followerwonk (yes, really!) which enables you to analyse your followers. It will show you when they are most active and, crucially, at which times of day they re-tweet you the most. Now that has to be worth knowing doesn’t it? Imagine if you could post your most important tweets when you knew your most active followers were in a re-tweety frame of mind… mwahahahahaaaaaaaaa, the power!!!! Ahem, sorry.
Note: I am in no way associated with Followerwonk, nor do I receive any benefit, either financial or otherwise, in recommending the service. I just like it. Almost as much as biscuits.

7. This Is The Really Obvious One That Everyone Forgets
Use the ‘social’ in social media, along with your innate story-telling abilities, to your advantage. It’s surprisingly easy to get caught in the trap of simple broadcasting. You send a tweet out into the wild and wait for it to do its thing. How often do you actually go out and initiate a conversation on the back of someone else’s tweet? If you’re like 87% (an entirely fabricated, yet plausible, statistic) of the Twitterverse, probably rarely. I know I’m guilty of this. Endeavour to engage with others and forget the fact that it makes you feel like a stalker. OK, they may never heave heard of you, but if they weren’t looking for people to interact with, they wouldn’t be on Twitter, right? Exactly. So respond to tweets, start conversations, reply to replies – you never know where a well-timed comment could lead.

This, my dear readers, should begin to get the gin-sodden old dear a little more sober. It is,nevertheless, a mere scratching of the surface of How To Win At Twitter.

So here’s a question ladies and gentlemen! There is a vast amount more to be written on this very subject. Would anyone fancy a little eBook on the subject eh? If there’s enough love for the idea, I might be persuaded to give it a crack. Let me know in the Comments section down there, if you would be so kind…


22 thoughts on “7 Easy Steps To Win At Twitter

  1. Ericka Clay

    This great! Some Twitter-esque apps I really love are Twitlistmanager and Justunfollow. Keeps everything organized and relevant!


  2. Oh, there’s always time for an ebook! Although, in the case of Twitter, less is often more particularly thanks to that 140 character limit! So perhaps an epamphlet or eshort-instructional-text would be more appropriate… and also much quicker to finish! Because you’ve got a novel you should be writing, haven’t you?

    Followerwonk. Love it. Hardly looked at the site – just love the name! There is also such a thing as a Wonky Chomp. It’s a variety of dog treat which I have never known a dog to refuse… although it must be strictly limited as a rare treat because if your dog does too much chomping, when he walks he may start to get all wonky around the middle.


    • An eshort-instructional-text may just be the perfect invention 🙂 Ah yes, the novel. It does seem to be somewhat languishing. Too much platform-building and too little writing A very timely reminder, thank you! Must find at least some editing time this weekend!


  3. I’d love an ebook. I’m afraid of Twitter. My husband seems to dig it, but so far I haven’t gone there. All his students must follow him so it works out well for him. I should just do it already. Oh brother. This week I’m going to do it. Thanks for the tips, Jon.


  4. Great post. Well and amusingly written. An eBook would be most welcome. Have just recently (past few weeks) begun to learn about and use social media, am very much a novice in this area. Feels like being dropped into a foreign country and I don’t know either the language, culture, etiquette or customs. Am bumbling along without knowing whether I am doing right or wrong. So, hints and tips and concise explanations, such as your post, are appreciated and instructive. Social etiquette on social media is an area where I would benefit from some instruction. When to re tweet/post? What’s the deal on private posting? Does it mean one should not share outside the community? What about comments? Should same be long or short? This is my longest comment thus far as I have ‘played safe’ by re tweeting/posting and only (on rare occasions) made comments of, at most, a few word in length. So, looking forward to an eBook for the social media challenged, such as myself. Thanks. Keep up the good work.


    • Excellent questions Eliz and ones that we all struggle with sometimes I think, even with the benefit of experience. An eBook is definitely on the cards, watch this space… And there will be plenty more posts on social media coming too, so if you follow the blog, they’ll ping into your Inbox just as soon as I publish them. Thanks for stopping by!


  5. This is a great list and I’m thinking an ebook would benefit a lot of people. Personally, I am a fan of twitter. It is my favourite social media tool, although I seem to be neglecting it lately. I was always on when Tweetdeck was fully functioning. Since twitter took over Tweetdeck it doesn’t seem to work as well and I am having more trouble negotiating the landscape. Why are they always “fixing” stuff that isn’t broken.


  6. Am I glad I found you during these early days of my venturing into the faceless internet world beyond Facebook. Without your invaluable advice I surely would have been devoured by the beast that is social-media.


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