5 years, 1,000 followers, and (almost) 5,000 tweets: What I’ve learned on Twitter

twitter-bird-white-on-blueThis month is my fifth anniversary with Twitter – I joined as @azurecollier in April 2008 – and as of today, I’ve grown to have a smidge over 1,000 followers and I’m pretty close to posting 5,000 tweets. To celebrate, I thought I’d take a look back and share some of the lessons I’ve learned.

1.      Tweet like a person, not like a robot

People do not want to interact with a robot that auto-generates posts when you update your blog, Facebook, Instagram, and anything that you can connect with Twitter, and just “set it and forget it.” They like helpful information, but they want to know why they should click on a link you’ve posted in a tweet. So, when I find interesting things I want to share, I try to make a comment about what I like about the thing I’m linking to or share a cool stat that I found in a blog post or article. Sometimes that’s hard to do in just 140 characters, but it’s worth it if you can be helpful to your followers!

2.      Negative words get attention, but make sure you include a positive message

Every time I post something that includes the words “Don’t do this!” or “mistakes” or “things that make you look dumb” or “social media crisis/fail”, I get lots of clicks. Why? Because you want to make sure you’re not doing these things! The negative words will catch your eye, and the reward is usually a post that includes not only the things you shouldn’t do, but also how you can fix it or how you can do it the right way.

3.      Sometimes reading is overrated

I’m a recovering ex-journalist, so I hate to say this, but it’s nice to take a break from scrolling and reading chunky paragraphs on a screen. Give the people what they want: something pretty to look at or listen to. Share infographics and videos, and make sure you use those words in the tweet. And write them in all caps to get people to notice (oh Twitter, when can we start using bold for emphasis instead of shouty caps?). Tell people there is a VIDEO or INFOGRAPHIC in this tweet.

Fellow tweeters also like PODCASTS. I’m a podcast junkie (what else are you going to do on an hour-long commute?), so when I hear something that’s relevant to what I do or is just really cool, I like to share it. Need podcast suggestions? I have a ton: The Speakeasy Marketing Roundtable (shameless plug, I am on this podcast), On Point, This American Life, Car Talk, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Radiolab, On the Media, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, WTF with Marc Maron, and Fresh Air. If you listen to ANY of these, your brain will thank you, and you will be on your way to becoming an official smarty pants.

4.      People like tips and things they can pin to their cubicle walls

I am always in search of social media stats, tips, trends, what’s new, and any best practices that I can have on hand for reference. So are the people who follow me. When I find something that is reference-worthy and can help me with content creation or can function as a marketing best practices checklist, I often include words like “bookmark this” or “print this out and pin it on your cube wall” – those tweets get lots of clicks and retweets. If you are someone who uses that kind of information, sign up for Diigo – a social bookmarking site. You can tag anything you add to your Diigo account so it’s easy to track down later.

5.      Tweet chats are helpful and will get you more followers

I’ve been a bit of a tweet chat slacker lately, but I definitely recommend them. I usually learn something, meet some new and smart people on Twitter, and get a few followers (if I add something interesting to the discussion!). Find tweet chats by topic on this Google Twitter Chat Master Schedule. If you see one you like, create an appointment for it in your calendar to remind you to attend.

6.     People like shoes, food, hilarious signs that have bad grammar, and videos of cats on Roombas wearing shark costumes and chasing ducklings

Since we’re not auto-posting robots and we’re talking like people on Twitter, it’s OK to not be all business all the time. Share your Instagram photos of your pets or a PacMan doodle on an office whiteboard. Post a link to 33 ingenious ways to store your shoes. Do not keep awesome things a secret. If you find an epic video of a cat wearing a shark costume who is riding on top of a Roomba and chasing a duckling (I am not making this up), you are obligated to share it with the Internets! Hilarious and interesting things are clicked, shared and retweeted all over the place. They might even cause you to ask a real live person sitting next to you: “Did you see this?!” You will laugh, have a shared experience with another human being, and enjoy yourself.

I have many more lessons to add to this list, but these are at the top of my mind today. Do you have any Twitter tips to share? Or more podcasts? Let me know in the comments!

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