Using Twitter Effectively

For the past month I’ve had a lot of time to really explore the twitter universe. I have three twitter accounts – a personal account, one for my internet radio show, and one I oversee for True Men Ministries.

I’ve been on twitter for nearly two years and here are some ways to use twitter that I have found work really well.

1. Followers are not the end-all-be-all of Twitter.

After you’ve been on twitter for about a week or so, you will begin seeing email from different websites that promise thousands and tens of thousands of followers. But you probably already know TANSTAAFL. (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). Some of these sites are out-front with it – they’ll get you a plethora of followers for a set price – $5, $10, or more. Some are more subtle about it – they won’t ask for money, but they will require your email address, which they will then sell to others and in return you will be have an avalanche of spam email sent to that address.

These websites are trading on the near-addiction that twitter can lead to – people wanting as many followers as possible. While having followers is the point of Twitter, I much rather have 300 followers who are actually reading my tweets than 3000 followers who ignore me.

Cultivate your followers as the relationships that they should be – one at a time. For the last month I have gained nearly 100 followers for my internet radio account by actually dialoging with each follower. I have personally talked – via twitter – with each follower at least once.

2. Building followers via Follow Friday

In keeping with the spirit of relationship of point 1, don’t just fill a  tweet with as many tweeters as possible along with the ff hashtag. I now include only one or two other persons or groups in each #ff tweet. And I include a personal reason why I’m recommending them.

3. Follow active tweeters

Every couple of weeks I clean out my following list, deleting those tweeters who haven’t tweeted for more than 7-10 days. And related to this is

4. Be active.

I usually generate 10-30 tweets a day. I utilize a pending tweet option that my twitter tool offers and set up many of my announcement tweets ahead of time. But I also tweet my own thoughts and replies in real time.

5. Use a translation tool.

I have followers from all over the world, especially for my classical music internet radio show. So I use Google’s translate tool to generate tweets in the language of my followers.

6. Consider the local time of your followers.

For example, if I want to announce an update to my radio show that the London Symphony Orchestra will be a featured artist, I will tweet this when my followers and intended audience are most likely to be online. Since I live in the UTC –6 time zone, I will tweet it at 9:00 a.m. – when I am usually online. But I will also tweet it at 3:00 a.m. where I am – which is 9:00 a.m. London time. There are numerous sources of research available that show that most people who use twitter are usually online between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. local (where they are, not necessarily where you are).

7. Use Hashtags

You can target your tweets with a twitter hashtag. It is the “number” or “pound” sigh – # – before the target word. I target tweets that I want to reach Londoners, for example, by using “#London”. The tweet will then show up in a list of tweets with that hashtag. People looking for any and all tweets about London will then see it because they will  use #London as their search operator.

It is estimated that there will be 200 million people using twitter by January 2011. There has never been a free source of advertising and contact available to people like this before. Twitter can be a tool to get your message to millions of people. Use it well!

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