1) Have Conversations
If you’re following people, it’s because what they’re saying is interesting, right? So respond to things that peak your interest. you may not get a response (everyone’s busy, after all) but odds are whoever you’re responding to will hear what you’re saying, and think it over. If your Twitter stream (the recent list of tweets you’ve made) is just a long series of short tips or links to your own articles, it makes you look suspiciously like a series of automated messages. So you’re clearly not listening – you’re a one-sided marketing machine. And while there’s a place for that (for example, Radio Daddy’s regular drop of voice over requests), when was the last time you had a satisfying conversation with an automated response system?
2) Be Present
The flipside of engaging other people is being there when people engage you. Twitter is a much more time-sensitive medium than email – probably because of the constant stream of messages going through it. So a response ideally should be in a fairly short window of time.
Now, being on Twitter isn’t paying the bills and not everyone has the time or inclination to be in front of that firehose of information constantly, particularly when it’s such a great source of distractions. But there are a few tools you can use to help here:
- SMS notifications – those of you in countries where Twitter has deals set up with phone networks can receive notifications when someone direct messages or mentions you. But that can get costly, and make responding painful to manage. That brings us to:
- Email – Twitter has really improved the email notifications it sends around direct messages, mentions and new followers, so as long as you’ve given Twitter an email address, you can get a heads-up when someone is talking to you, without having to have a Twitter client open. If you want something beyond what Twitter provides, tools like Tweetymail are even better – for example, as part of notifying you of a new follower, Tweetymail will show you some of their recent tweets, which is one of the best ways to get a sense of someone on Twitter. That way, you can decide on the spot and respond via email to follow the person.
If someone mentions you, it’s good form to respond in some way. The more people you have following you, the more difficult that gets, but the occasional response shows you’re listening. Amanda Palmer for example will often retweet a particularly apt or witty response in the middle of a long conversation with her fans.
3) Follow The Networks
Like LinkedIn, one of Twitter’s real strengths is the implicit recommendation in who a person is following, and who is following them. Now this is a rabbit hole you can get lost in, but if you make sure you ration your time (set aside say, an hour a week) then looking at the following can be useful:
- Who are the people you’re following following themselves?
- Who is also following the same people you’re following?
- Who else are your followers following?
That likely seems very complex, but essentially what you’re doing, if you forgive me representing Twitter relationships as a hierarchy, is wandering off to these parts of the graph of relationships:
I highly recommend using Twitter’s website for this exercise, because they’ve added a new feature a while back that recommends similar people when you’re looking at a particular page, or have just opted to follow someone – based seemingly on that giant graph of relationships and likely some clever data crunching besides – who is also worth following.
Now, doing this is likely to increase the amount of incoming messages from all of these interesting people you’ve found, so that brings us to:
4) Use Lists
Lists are a great way to keep the people you’re following organised. Tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite will let you create individual columns for the lists you’ve defined. This ensures that you can find information from particular types of people quickly. For example, you might sort the people you’re following into:
- voice over coaches
- news sites
Lists help ensure that you don’t miss particular types of information that are relevant to you.
Lists are also a great way of keeping an eye on what people think of you – your Twitter profile page will show the lists that you’ve been added to. That shows you the company you’re placed in, and who’s actively interested in you.
I’d love to hear any feedback, or if there are areas that are important to you that I’ve completely missed. If you’ve got questions or if there are things you’d like to talk about in more detail (possibly on the technical side?) please let us know in a comment!