There’s just one thing you need to know about Twitter: It’s a game. Once you understand that, all you need to know is how to play–and win–at Twitter.
To start off, you need to understand that Twitter is a game where you win by earning new followers every day. How do you do that? Well, you start by sharing tweets that are informative, interesting and relevant to your followers. If they like what you tweet they will re-tweet it to their followers. If their followers like it, then they may decide to follow you too. Then your follower count goes up and you score. You’ve also increased your chances of gaining more followers the next time you tweet. If those people like it, they’ll re-tweet to their followers, you’ll gain new followers, and the whole process repeats exponentially.
Once you understand that, all you have to do is to keep these five things in mind to win at Twitter:
1. Follow Those Who Follow You
Gaining new followers on Twitter can be challenging. I’ve built my following up to over 4,000 over time and there’s a simple secret to that: Just follow everyone who follows you. The reason why is that Twitter puts a cap on how many people you can follow based on a ratio of how many people are following you. For example, you can’t follow 2,000 people if you only have 50 followers of your own. But if you have 2,000 followers you can easily follow 2,000 people. So, don’t follow those who don’t follow you back and only follow those who actually follow you. This way you can slowly, but surely, build up your followers count, which translates to more influence and a wider reach.
Note: Sites like www.JustUnfollow.com are specifically designed to help you identify who is following you and who isn’t. Try to keep a tight ratio of who you follow and who follows you. Obviously there are some people you’ll want to follow who will never follow you back [like Beyonce or Bieber], but for everyone else, if they’re not following you, you need to drop them like a hot potato.
2. Engage With Your Followers
Like all social media, Twitter is meant to be a dialog, not a monologue. Think more telephone and less megaphone. Simply put, people want a chance to respond, and when they do you should reciprocate. Plus, it turns out that the key to keeping the followers you have is to engage with them. If they re-tweet something you’ve posted, thank them for it with a “Favorite/Heart” and/or reply to them and thank them for sharing your tweet with their followers. Be sure to re-tweet what others share, too. Or, you can ask questions and engage in a dialog with those who respond. I’ve personally established a few actual friendships with people I’ve only “met” on Twitter by simply engaging those who engage with me. Try it!
3. Provide Useful Content [Not Just Pushing Your Links/Ads]
For the love of tweet, please don’t use Twitter to send a constant barrage of links to your website. That’s not how it works. Instead, use the platform as a way to demonstrate your expertise and establish yourself as a thought-leader in your space. Having a blog where you answer typical questions and/or explain difficult concepts to your customers is one easy way to accomplish this. Then just tweet out a link to that post and watch people respond with favorites and re-tweets of your helpful article. That’s how it works.
4. Tweet With Images, Not Just Links
Twitter allows you to add an animated GIF or a JPG image to accompany your tweets. Doing so removes a few of your precious characters, but it’s well worth the trade. Tweets with images or animated GIFs are 10 times more likely to get noticed, and clicked on, than text-only tweets. *Bonus tip: If you need a source for great, free images to perk up your tweets, try searching on Pinterest rather than Google and you’ll find a gold mine of undiscovered awesomeness.
5. Share a Mix of Professional and Sometimes Funny/Personal Content
Believe it or not, your followers like cat videos, too. So try to mix up your tweets with a balanced set of interesting, thought-provoking and humorous links, sprinkled with an occasional note about your company brag or upcoming discounts on services. The goal is for your followers to actually look forward to what you tweet and value what you have to share, not ignore your constant ad-speak and eventually unfollow you. Speaking of that, you’ll want to keep your personal opinions about the president, the government, and the upcoming elections to yourself [or on your own personal blog or Twitter account]. Spouting off about something in the news will no doubt help you engage with your followers, but it will also polarize your business into a corner you’ll wish you never painted yourself into. Keep it light, and humorous, but not controversial for best results.
Are you ready to tweet like a ninja and start winning at Twitter? Just put these simple rules into practice and watch your follower count improve over time.
Did I miss anything? Share your insights for winning at Twitter in the comments below.
Post contributed by Keith Giles, copywriter for Agency Ingram Micro.