We’ve all seen the other lists, you know, about driving up your number of followers and all. What about how to actually use Twitter in an effective manner? As I teach in my university classes, as professionals we want to use technology to do three things: increase revenue, increase efficiency, and decrease costs. Here’s how to do that for a business, or as an individual by focusing on the value we provide to others.
1) Focus on content, not followers
Being followed by a lot of people brings a great sense of satisfaction to our techno-egos… it makes us feel like we mere digital mortals could become Internet celebrities. Get over it! Treat Twitter like real life where you’d rather have a few close friends than a lot of casual acquaintances who mooch. Compare having 1000 loyal followers who interact half the time versus having 10,000 followers with only a three percent interaction rate. Under the first scenario, you could drive 500 people to your content but under the second, only 300 would be attracted, and at a much higher effort–and lower quality of participation–at that.
2) Follow metrics, but not closely
It is great to know and track your Klout score, but don’t look at it every day. In fact, don’t even look at your score every week. Let some months pass between checking your metrics… maybe two or three. The only exception is if you’re engaging in a massive format change in your delivery of content, then you may check more frequently, but by the week and not by day by day.
3) Relay interesting media
Find the best of the web in your focus area(s) and relay that to your followers. You can retain follower loyalty and even gain new quality followers by creating value in the daily lives of others. In essence, you passing your efficiency in a field onto your followers by pre-selecting their reading material makes you a valuable Tweeter.
4) Create original content
What would have happened to HBO in the days of booming DVD rentals if they hadn’t created amazingly high quality original content? Now fast-forward to more recent times and ask where they might have ended up competing against the likes of Amazon and Netflix without their original content. Merely playing commercially released movies wouldn’t have kept them alive as screen-to-DVD time drastically reduced. It is fairly easy to relate this same concept to your publishing of content created by others as you can increase your value by offering unique and high quality custom made content.
5) Monetize your Tweets
You may not have 100,000 followers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t monetize your Tweets. Personally, I began monetizing my Twitter feed at somewhere between 100 and 150 followers thanks to TwtMob and SponsoredTweets. Tweeted ads aren’t the only way to increase Twitter-based revenue. Remember before when we discussed quality followers relating to a higher participation rate of clicking on links, and later talked of creating original content? Much of the money made via Twitter is indirect, or rather it’s made by offering links to your custom content which is supported by a more traditional form of browser-based web advertising.
6) Be personable
“Watch what you say” and “Everything is public” are mantras being incessantly repeated right now, but remember, social norms change with generations and these two bits of advice can sometimes be detrimental. While you shouldn’t go around issuing negativity, hate speech, or utter profanity, sometimes a little sincerity and honesty works wonders… especially as an individual that doesn’t require a complex PR department. Politics is a little charged, and it can be good to avoid that unless you want to carve a niche as an “insider” of a particular group, but telling it how you see it and talking about your day can sometimes remind followers that you’re a real person. Too much, however, and they’ll think you’re just falling into the trap of only providing trivial and irrelevant updates about your day.