How To Be Contagious on Twitter

Social media is going through a transition period as some social networks struggle to survive and others grow so fast it makes your nose bleed. How to be Contagious on Twitter

Google+ has stirred the pot and is acquiring new customers as quickly as an umbrella shop during a rain storm.

Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that Facebook is facing saturation point  in developed countries with adoption in the US now over 90% and growth rates slowing, but in developing countries Facebook continues to grow at significant rates.

Twitter the Enigma

Twitter is still an enigma and if you talk to a college class and ask them how many are on Twitter and what Twitter is about you will see barely a hand raised and stunned silence. Despite this lack of adoption by the younger generation Twitter goes quietly about its simple 140 character business while still keeping its 200 million users happy and keeping its brand top of mind in the media by  breaking news stories almost every day on its platform in real time.

Twitters secret is that in essence it is not complicated and it is a marketing and social networking channel all in one little simple package.

Dan Zarella is a “Social Media Scientist” who studies the vagaries of obscure elements such as when is it the best time to retweet or post a Facebook update to get the best sharing rates. Dan’s mission life it seems is to help us understand the science behind the social media and networks and ensure marketers have the best knowledge to make their campaigns successful.

On Twitter Size Matters

He has recently published an article that validates the importance of the principle that on Twitter “size does matter”. Marketers are always on the hunt to make content and ideas spread and to make that happen you need 3 things to happen if you are on Twitter according to Dan.

1. Expose People to your Content

For this to happen you need to have Twitter followers that have opted in to follow you. If they aren’t following you they will not see your tweet

2. Aware of the Content – “Attention”

They need to see it in their Twitter stream (so if you only tweet once a day then that will limit people’s awareness of your content)

3. Motivated to Share it

This could be driven by elements such as your online influence or the power of the headline

How to Be Contagious on Twitter Why you need many twitter followers

The Easy Way to Increase your Twitter Reach

These three elements combined will make your ideas and content spread but the place you have to start is by increasing your reach and the easiest way to do that is to grow your Twitter “Follower” numbers.

Yes, you can work on increasing the “Attention” and you can increase “Motivation” to improve your sharing rates but the place to start is the numbers, without that you have no one’s attention.

To provide some context to his argument Dan uses the 1% example of what it can take to get just one retweet. (and from my experience this not far off the real numbers)

If you have 10,000 followers (reach) and with one tweet you get 1% of attention this means that 100 people read your tweet. The next and final step is if 1% of those are “motivated ” to retweet then from 10,000 followers you have achieved only “1 retweet”. This where you see the power of “Sheer Numbers”

How Do you Increase Your Twitter Reach and be Contagious?

You can just use Twitter to follow people to grow your reach but it tends to be cumbersome and inefficient. There are different Twitter tools to do this but there are two tools that I have found effective to increase your Twitter reach that are targeted and effective.

1. (the Twitter “Yellow pages”)

For tips on how to use this:  The Marketing Secret about Twitter that Most People Don’t Know

2. (allows you to follow the followers of top Twitter users 40 at a time)

For tips on how to use this: How to Get Targeted Twitter Followers

So this is where you start and as you build your followers you should of course work on increasing attention and improve motivation but you need to lay the foundation and that is building a large reach through acquiring 1,000’s of Twitter followers.

Image by Aquila


  • Anonymous


    Great post and absolutely true. In my recent fray into the adoption of twitter for my online presence, your spot on with your advice. I’ve implemented many of your strategies and they’ve worked well.

    Thanks for your guidance.


  • Leo Dimilo

    Of course, the caveat to this is that your people will listen.  When you are following 1,000’s who are following you, that is a huge signal to noise thresh hold you have to jump over.  

    I mean let’s be real here.  Someone that is following 20k+ people isn’t using twitter to listen or even aggregate messages…they are there to broadcast themselves.  

    Dan’s message holds true if intent to participate (and not merely there own message is there) AND their audience aren’t the “you follow me, I follow you” crowd.

    Mind you, I am not hating.  Just trying to give a different perspective from someone who isn’t a celebrity.

    • Michael Martine

      Anyone can do this with time and effort. Where most people fail is that they simply have nothing interesting or valuable to offer. 

      • Jeff Bullas

        Thanks for the comment Michael. Yes, building followers is essential but providing valuable content is vital to keep them coming back

        • sespring

          That is the same thing with all online media, we must continue to (or learn to in my case) provide valuable content is vital to keep people coming back.

        • sespring

          Jeff, what plug-in do you use to create the share buttons on the left side of your pages?

    • Gail Gardner

      I have to disagree with Leo. I follow over 20k and that many follow me and I listen all the time. The limitation is not following and followers because you can use search and lists and especially listen to your @ username messages no matter how big that number gets. 

      • MartinSellingzoe

        I agree with Gail and her point is shared by Guy Kawaski. @Scenttrail (me) doesn’t have as many fans, but I follow back those who are active, who don’t spam me and a handful of “celebrity experts” that will never follow little ole me (lol) but whose thinking I respect. The advantage to the follow is twofold. I never know who will teach me something and by following we can share direct messages, a big advantage if I want to ask a question or have a more intimate conversation. What amazes me is when companies don’t follow anyone. Not only can’t they DM me, but their arrogance is showing. Companies should be glad anyone ever cares enough to follow them. It isn’t like we don’t have 10 other choices :). Agree with Gail on this one Jeff. Marty

  • Emma of CEM

    I love the irony of being able to tweet a story about cautiously using twitter. :)

    But seriously, there’s some really great insight here, and I think many serial tweeters would be wise to heed your sage advice on using twitter effectively but sparingly. I think a lot of tweeters tend to get over-zealous with buffering their presence on this platform, but there is, as with anything, a right way and a wrong way to utilize any kind of communication tool.

  • Annie Sisk

    Helpful resources here. Of course, it’s not just numbers but the right numbers. As for the signal to noise problem – well, like most networks, it’s about adopting a new way of interacting with the service. I don’t “read” my global timeline anymore than I read all the feeds in my RSS reader. Scan, decide, move on.

  • Steve James

    Thanks for sharing. I had know idea about

  • Steve James

    Thanks for sharing. I had know idea about

  • Media Companies In San Francis

    By contrast, our previous article about the top five telcos’ lack of success with social media showed up on the first pages of all selected search engines within a few hours of launch. We’re not telling you that to advertise our services. We don’t offer services, just free opinion. We use social media to share our views on social media, not for profit.

  • Nikki Teller

    As always Jeff, great blog. But I always worry about using “tools”. I try to be as authentic as possible and I’m not too concerned about having 20,000 followers. Having said that, I should check the tools out and see if they fall into my “authenticity” ethos. Thanks, yet again, for your clever blog!

    • Jeff Bullas

      Thanks Nikki for dropping in and contributing. How you use the media is up to you Use it to achieve your goals. My goals will be different to others.

  • Marsha Ingrao

    Twitter is hard to get to know for some reason. It has been the slowest of all the social medias to build, not just for myself but for different organizations for which I help manage their social media. I have to admit I haven’t used twellow to the best advantage, so I’ll try it. :)

  • Marsha Ingrao

    Hi Jeff,
    I just went to Twello. I joined education, teachers, k-12 teachers. I found very few teachers in those categories. Most of them were teaching something as their business, but actual school teachers didn’t seem to be there. Could it be that real public school teachers aren’t using this at all?