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12 Keys to Success on Twitter

Twitter was never designed to be a social network but it has become one.12 Keys to Success on Twitter

In fact it was designed initially in 2006 to used by individuals as an SMS type service to communicate with a small group at the podcasting company Odeo. When I first joined Twitter in 2008, I was underwhelmed and wondered as to its usefulness. Its early attraction to me was its novelty factor. It has overcome this challenge and four years later it has built an impressive resume.

  • Over 140 million active users as of 2012
  • Generates over 340 million tweets daily
  • Handles over 1.6 billion search queries per day
  • Tenth most visited site on the internet

In the nearly six years since its founding over 600 million users have registered Twitter accounts.

Twitter Provides Leverage

This is Twitter’s biggest and best advantage.

Social media allowed the word “viral” to be associated with marketing rather than the great plagues of the last few centuries. It has enabled the localised and physical word of mouth to now become “world of mouth”.

Social media with its exponential multiplier effect is the amplifying agent that marketers used to dream about. Many business owners still do not understand the global multiplying effect to word of mouth that it brings.

What I Discovered about Twitter

Despite not being impressed initially with its rather simple interface and perceived lack of usefulness I stuck with tweeting an occasional tweet here and there. After playing with it for a few months I discovered it was driving traffic to my blog in numbers that surprised me. It now had my undivided and focused attention!

I realised that if I wanted more traffic to the blog then building a large Twitter tribe of followers could be a great benefit to providing more visibility to my blog.

One Tweet at a Time

Stephen King, the fiction writer who has written 47 novels and according to Forbes earned $39 million last year, when asked, how he was so prolific and successful, had this to say.

How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.” ― Stephen King

Being successful with Twitter is no different. One tweet at a time.

12 Keys to Success on Twitter

Success on Twitter will take time. It will require patience and persistence. There are many online services promising overnight success. True success takes longer and it takes discipline and commitment.

1. Size matters on Twitter

Don’t believe it when people tell you that its just the quality and not the size of your following on Twitter that matters.That is bollocks! Both are important

A large Twitter following provides scale and leverage to market your business, blog or website.

Building a Twitter following applies the law of reciprocation. If you follow someone then there is this underlying obligation to follow you back. The more credible your account looks with credibility displayed by links to a blog and a sizeable Twitter following will make you more attractive to be followed back.

2. Build a targeted tribe on Twitter

This is where it starts to scale when you not only have a big following but a tribe that wants to hear what you have to say and links that take them to valuable content that they want to read and view, whether it is yours or another trusted source.

Your tweets need to be relevant to your followers. If you want to build a targeted following then I have found that Tweepi is a great tool to assist you with that (and it is free).

Applying the law of reciprocation, follow people’s (preferably top bloggers with large followings) followers in the market  segment that you’re focused on. In the main these followers are already following that person because they are interested in that topic area. It is a list that is already qualified for you.

For example if I follow Chris Brogan’s followers then I am quite confident that they are interested in social media. If I tweet about social media then they are going to be interested in my links.

Building a targeted tribe on Twitter with Tweepi There are other tools that you can use to build a Twitter following and another on I use  is Twellow, that is like the yellow pages of Twitter.

3. Tweet “evergreen” content

Online your content defines you.

The challenge for many is coming up with the ideas for tweets and the content that they lead to.

Stephen King reveals the secret  to finding the inspiration and ideas for your content- “you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot

Some people fall into the trap of just tweeting news and topical content.

If you want to build and enduring presence on Twitter and on social media including blogs then link to content that is useful and helpful not just this week but also next week and in one years time.

Link to content such as “how to” videos or articles that adds value well into the future and isn’t dated within 24 hours because it is now “old news”. Aim to educate, entertain and inspire and not just inform.

4. Include links to liquid and contagious content

Tweeting great content is essential.

If you want people to share you then you need to make your content compelling and contagious. That could be through assisting people in solving problems.

It must do one of 4 things, inform, educate, inspire or entertain.  This takes work but it can be done.

Create content that is so good it begs to be shared. Coca Cola have realised the power of this and have changed their marketing strategy from “creative excellence” to “content excellence”. Their strategy is labelled as “liquid and linked”.

5. Tweet multimedia content

On Twitter people expect to be taken to content that is multi-media rich. It needs to include media such as videos, Slideshare presentations, podcats, images and photos.

So think multi-media tweets. Twitter is now allowing you to view these within your Twitter account.

Slideshare presentation viewed within Twitter

6. Visual tweets are vital

There is a significant trend happening on the social web and it is the increasingly important communication technique of getting your message across via visual formats and media. It is showing its power with the rise and growth of platforms and social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram.

It is also evident with the obvious popularity of Infographics. It can be seen in the evolution of Facebook and the emergence of Google+. The images are bigger and beautiful than ever before. Share them on Twitter and watch your engagement and your content sharing grow. Pinterest and the visual web

7. Automate Twitter

Many social media purists don’t agree with this but it works and saves a lot of time. I have been labelled a Twitter maverick by some but my principle on this is to “automate the content distribution but not the conversation“. This balances efficiency with engagement. I automate the tweeting of my content about 90% of the time. It provides visibility online and it keeps my content in the Twitter stream. I tweet on average one tweet every 15 minutes.

The two tools that save me 60-70 hours a week and let me sleep are Twitterfeed.com and Social Oomph Professional (a paid service that costs me about $25 a month)

Productivity  tool #1. Socialoomph

This saves me about 80 hours a week at least. socialoomph.com twitter productivity toolI use social oomph several ways but mostly for these two tasks

  • Automates the sending of my tweets
  • Automatically follows people back ( I can’t follow manually back 3,000 people a month, I need to sleep!)

Productivity  tool #2. Twitterfeed

I enjoy sharing other bloggers content that I trust. Twitterfeed.com enables me to share their content on Twitter automatically by detecting their RSS feed when they publish their post.

Twitterfeed Twitter productivity tool

It achieves two objectives. It enables me to continue to share content that adds value and secondly sharing content from other bloggers sometimes ends up in them sharing your content. Send it with their Twitter handle so they know you have tweeted their link. That is what I call a win-win!

8. Learn the art of the Twitter headline

In a world where everyone is time poor you have only seconds to make them click. Your headline is the start of the seduction. It applies to all of your content but on Twitter it is vital. David Ogilvy on the importance of the headline

9. Tweet to all your social network accounts

We all have our preferred social networks. Some are Facebook fanatics, others are LinkedIn legends and some are Twitter twerps. Don’t miss a chance to get your content and brand where your customers hang out. Tweet links to content on a variety od social networks.

Edelman publishes a trust  barometer every year to measure what creates trust online. They have discovered that if someone only sees your brand once your trust factor is only 4%. If they see you mentioned 3-5 times it rises above 50%.

The lesson here is “be seen everywhere” Tweet links to content that is published to the major social networks in a variety of formats.

10. Tweets should have a home

Your Twitter account should link to a home that you own. You should also be tweeting links to take people to that hub (it could be a blog or a website). Don’t build your home portal to the web on someome else’s platform. Build your own foundation and hub. This should be a blog with your domain name and that is self hosted.

Don’t sign away your rights to your content to someone else. Sure, post your articles to your Facebook page or a Tumblr account but don’t hand over the keys to a landlord, you never know when he might want to sell or demolish your home. Invest in your own online asset.

Twitter should have a home Blogs and website home hub

11. Tweet with purpose and passion

This will provide the focus and the why for building an online brand in your category of choice.

On Twitter I tweet about subjects that are the intersection of my passions and interests that combined provide nuclear fuel to drive my social media endeavours. You need to plug your tweets into that power source. It provides the rocket fuel to rise early, it provides the energy to stay up late,it provides the ideas and the inspiration for the writing and the content. Many of us have many things we love but you will need to choose the topic area for your Twitter account and blog and stick to it.

12. Be relentless

Stephen King writes one word at a time but he produces 2,000 words a day 7 days a week. This is what we call relentless. What enables him to do this is his passion for his craft. This is the fuel. You need to be relentless in the production of content to tweet and the use of Twitter to market and distribute that content.

One tweet at a time.

One last thing

If you haven’t put a Twitter sharing function on your website or blog then do it “now”. Don’t make it hard for people to share your content on your online portal and home.

What About You?

In human history there has been no better opportunity to publish and promote your content. Are you tweeeting enough content? You have a tweeting and publishing machine in your pocket it is called a smart phone. It can be used to tweet on the go.

Are you tweeting the right content? Have you built a targeted Twitter tribe?

Look forward to hearing your success stories in the comments.

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Jeffbullas's Blog


  • These are some great pointers.  A lot of them, you, have written about before but they are so important.  From sharing multimedia rich content, to automating your content (not conversation :)) Being in the social media management business I find tip #4 very useful. Specifically when you speak about solving problems in your content.  Most successful business are built off of solving a common problem and relieving  a major frustration.  Doing the same in your content will absolutely gain traction.  Great post! 

    • Thanks David for the comments.This post will be the key word rich cousin for a presentation I will be doing TED style in 18 minutes at “Social Media Down Under” on Wednesday the 14th of June. The visual version of this will be on Slideshare in the next 24 – 48hours.

  • Wow, I just scheduled tomorrows post for my website, and it’s entirely about Twitter Content Strategy. When writing it I was thinking “Twitter isn’t new, is that why other popular social media blogs don’t do many Twitter tips posts anymore?”

    Twitter is probably the most misused, underused, and overused (all at the same time) network on the Internet. It’s also probably that primary network for most social media bloggers. I hope that some people take these tipcs to heart. Good luck with your TED talk!

    • Thanks Adam for dropping in and contributing. A lot of people don’t get Twitter. It is a sharp tool that needs to be brought out of the shed..

  • Jeff, 

    Killer content……….again. I had to bookmark the post for reference. 

  • I really need to learn how to write headlines 🙂 Thanks for the great post!

    • Tha art and science of the headline is really important. It can be learned!

  • Glad to be in the Coworking Space center 🙂

  • Glad you enjoyed it. There are a lot of tools and I have only mentioned a few. If anyone has more tools that they use for Twitter that work for them it would be great to hear from you.

  • Visual version on Slideshare coming soon!

  • Thanks Andrew for the contribution to the conversation and the hints.

  • Thanks for the comments. How did you notice that the blog post was influenced by Stephen King? Maybe the title should have read 12 lessons from a Twitter maverick and the worlds best selling author! Now you just need to work out who is who 🙂
    He wrote a great book on writing principles titled” On Writing” it is worth a read that is full of great insights!

  • A few writers tend to be of the idea that too much multimedia content distracts the readers
    however plain content is boring too! I love your point on automating twitter> that will definitely save me a lot of time. Thanks Jeff.
    I like your article a lot. Great Read as always.

    • Thanks for the comment. It is a fine line sometimes to walk between multimedia, images and text.

  • Twitter is often underestimated and used properly is a great content distribution platform.

  • What a great post! I don’t think people understand how important twitter is! It is almost like a gateway to everything this, new customers, new clients, new connections. I think the most important thing that you mentioned way headlines! It is so true because I am guilty of only reading headlines you have a certain amount of time to catch someones attention and the best way to do it, is headlines ( interesting ones) and or pictures! Once again great post! Love your blogs. 

    • Thanks Shannon. Yes, don’t forget to learn the art of the headline.

  • Chris Picanzo

    Great one Jeff.. It is very important to have followers or better yet a Tribe of followers that is your market specific. I will say the one group of people using twitter like fire are the teens! I have a son and daughter and my son and his friends are very into it. FYI I’m writing this from my iPhone 🙂

    • Yes it is building fast especially as it is now embedded in Apple’s mobile operating system

  • Thanks for the comment and look forward to hearing about your success.

  • hi Jeff, thanks much for your wonderful article. also i joined tweepi immediately it looks wonderful for followers maintenance. i have now asked them where do i maintain my twitter lists. 
    for you i have the following question: people these days are so much drilled to re-ply instead of just ply. when twitter started there was no expand, no “conversation”. i contemplate that twitter dropped the ambition level by giving the audience what they are used to instead of asserting them that being authentic is good, and interaction is not necessarily the same as re-action.
    so the question is: what is your view on this change from twitter from “what are you doing?” to “what is happening?” to now being able to reply and expand a conversation?

    best regards, Ron

  • Thanks for a very informative
    article. Since the Twitter explosion, those who want to gain a large following should
    heed your suggestions. It is very true
    that if you want a large following, you need to focus on the category of your
    choosing, follow the experts in that category, and make sure your tweets are not
    only be informative but “educate, entertain and inspire”. I try to grab their attention with a headline
    that makes my followers want to read what I posted. I try to make my posts relevant to what they
    want/need to know about, and I try to find interesting things others may not
    have seen before.

    I do find frustrating those blogs
    and/or websites that have a twitter name/account, but don’t use a twitter
    sharing function on their site. It takes more steps to get their information out
    to my followers. There are even a few
    blogs I enjoy that don’t have a twitter account, so it even harder to get the
    information I find from their sites out on twitter.

  • Linda Wilson

    Good morning!

    Sorry to be a pain, but could someone very briefly explain how twitter helps with seo, please?

    Many thanks,

    • THanks for the question. There is one indirect way Twitter helps with SEO. It allows people to discover your blog content read it and then link to it. It contributes significantly to link building but only if you are creating quality contagious content that people want to link to..

  • Roy

    Thanks for the Info. Jeff! I’ll use it.

  • WilliamWynn

    I like #12 about the Twitter tribe. I think your right whether it is yours or another trusted source, your tweets need to be relevant to your followers.

  • I must praise your effort of explaining twitter in detail. I was almost 5 % known of twitter, Now I will use it fully

  • Jeff: We just wanted to give you one combined ‘thank you’ for all of your Twitter (in fact all) posts which for this soon-to-be-startup have been universally useful and helpful.