Monday, July 6, 2015

10 Most Important Things You Need to Know About Working With Twitter

You'll notice that in the title of this article I wrote "working with Twitter". I do mean "work". If you only plan to use Twitter recreationally, as a pastime, or as a way of shouting out your love of Justin Bieber, read no further. This article is intended for individuals (such as authors, artists, musicians, politicians, etc.) and businesses (big and small) who want to "sell" their products via the Twitter social platform. "Sell" is the wrong word, as I will soon explain.

The following is my Twitter Philosophy. I have over 36,000 Followers, 95% of them real human beings. My followers come from all over the world (although I don't think I have any followers in Antarctica). My followers are lovers of poker, good books, Bulgaria, Israel, marketing, Jewish holidays, television, travel, grandchildren, more good books, and, for the most part, fellow authors, or aspiring authors, just like me.

Read and then follow my example. It's free advice. You can implement my philosophy in five minutes a day, or three hours a day. It doesn't matter. But please, use Twitter properly!

1. ENAGE, DO NOT SELL. If you tweet to me "Buy My Book" I will disregard your tweet as junk, as spam. Twitter is NOT a place to sell anything. Twitter is NOT a place to invite me to follow you on Facebook. (If I wanted to do that, I would look you up on Facebook). Twitter is not about selling.

Twitter is about engaging. Making contacts. Making friends. Meeting people with common interests. It does not matter if you are an individual or the Social Media Manager of Apple Computers.

By engaging with my 35,000 Twitter followers I have made many real friends (they visit me in Israel). I have received valuable advice from fellow authors. I have learned from others. Most importantly (and most recently), I have signed with a literary agent after engaging with her on Twitter.

2. TWEET CONTENT. You tweet to say hello, yes, but if you are "working" with Twitter, you must tweet content. This means that you must have a constant stream of new, interesting content. It doesn't matter if you have a personal blog or if you run a corporate website. You must write new content ALL the time. Blogging once a month is NOT BLOGGING. You must blog AT LEAST once a week, and it doesn't matter if the blog post is one paragraph long, just an image, a video, or a novel-length composition.

New content is what attracts readers, new eyeballs and existing followers. Your mission is to drive people to read. After they read once, they will come back and read again. After they enjoy what they read, they will recommend the article to their friends (by re-tweeting, sharing or stealing your content, it doesn't matter).

But here’s a secret about new content. If you post an article today, and someone follows you three months from now, the article you posted today is new content for him/her. Hint hint.

If you run a small business - let's say you are a private plumber - how would you write/post content that would engage a large audience of followers? It won't work to blog each week about a new sewage leak, or a drain clogging in your neighbor's house. Try blogging pictures of a plumber eating pizza. And then images of plumbers from different countries. Then female plumbers. Then, the world's youngest plumber. You get the idea.

Readers will start out as READERS. Then they will become REPEAT READERS. And then they will become CUSTOMERS.

3. RETWEET WITH FEELING. Twitter is all about sharing, and you share by re-tweeting, or by re-re-tweeting. But don’t just do this automatically. Justin Bieber is not going to follow you if you re-tweet his tweets. (Note to self: I have to find out who this Justin Bieber guy is – I’ve mentioned him twice in this article so far).

4. USE IMAGES. Most users of Twitter access their feed on a mobile device. I am not one of the "most users". I am old-fashioned. I ONLY see Twitter on my desktop. I use my smartphone for making smart phone calls. But, no matter how you use Twitter, you are probably most attracted by the images you see.

Tweet with images. It's that simple. You don't have to use an image with every single tweet, but beautify your Twitter feed by coloring it with different, funny, (non-pornographic) images. Hey, guess what! You can "steal" someone else's image and use it in your tweet! You can tweet an image of Scarlett Johansson (my wife already knows I think Scarlett is the most beautiful woman in the world) and you can tweet: "This is the woman I would like to have dinner with tonight". It's legal to do this!

But please don’t tweet 30 times with the same image! What are you thinking?

5. BUILD a FOLLOWING. Followers will not come to you out of their own free will. No matter who you are (unless you are Justin Bieber), they will NOT find you. You must find them.

Every single day follow new people. Be proactive about this. Follow people with common interests as you. Follow people with no common interests as you.

Here is an example of how I found people with common interests as me. I am an author (or at least, this is how I describe myself). I have a literary agent. People who follow a literary agent are for the most part, aspiring authors like me.

Need I say more?

6. WHEN SMALL, SAY HELLO. Welcome each and every new follower with a personal greeting. In some cases I strike up a short chat with my new follower. This establishes a personal connection and frequently leads to re-tweets.

7. WHEN BIG, SMILE. When you have 35,000 followers (and another 100 new ones every day), you simply do not have time to welcome each and every new follower with a personal greeting. In fact, you probably barely have time to notice new followers coming in.

I go into my list of Followers once a day, at the same time every day, and go down the list to see who has shown up at my doorstep. If the follower’s description (not his/her picture) looks like it was written by a real human being, I will click “Follow”. If the account looks fake (picture of Garfield, an image of a celebrity) or if the account has private tweets, I click “Block”.

The many attempts to sell you fake Twitter followers constitute a worldwide plague. I do not relate favorably to anyone whose tweets cannot be seen in the public Twitterverse. Those are the red lines of my Twitter Philosophy.

If there is anything in between my choices for “Follow” and “Block” - I will not click anything. These people, apparently not too interesting in their daily lives, are free to follow me.

A word about TrueTwit. This is the service that makes you write in some words after seeing squiggly characters against a colorful background. You can do this. Or you don’t need to bother. Whatever.

8. UNFOLLOW. Just because someone followed you doesn’t mean he/she should follow you. Yes, you heard that right. Your followers have no right to follow you unless you agree. Get rid of the garbage. Every day. Block anyone trying to sell you something and any profile that says "you can get thousands of followers." You could do this one by one (if your list of followers is small), or you can use a free, user-friendly program like ManageFlitter.

9. TWEET NO MATTER THE SIZE OF YOUR FOLLOWING. No additional words necessary.

10. RETWEET YOUR OWN TWEETS. Here’s my thinking, and please correct me if I’m wrong. If you are following a lot of people and you go onto your Twitter feed at 10pm, you will only see the tweets from the past two or three hours. That means, if I last tweeted at 5am (in your time zone), you will never see my tweet.

I have a lot of articles on my blog and I rotate them in my tweets. Usually I send out four types of tweets every day: One about Bulgaria / one about Israel / one about the craft of writing / and one a book review. Here is what I do. I tweet each of these 140-character babies once every two hours. That means, in the course of two hours – four tweets in total. (Note: I have been tweeting less lately in order to devote more time to my writing.)

If you log in at 5pm, or if you log in at 11pm, you will only see four of my tweets in the past two hours. But, I’ve covered myself by tweeting to people in New Zealand, India, Ireland, and New Mexico. Everywhere in the world, you will only see me tweeting good content tweets – one tweet every 30 minutes.

There, that’s my Twitter Philosophy. Sorry that I couldn’t write it all down in less than 140 characters, but I had a lot to share.

And that’s the final word.


Related article:
How I Got 10,000 Twitter Followers in Less than 10 Months

Originally published on The Huffington Post.


  1. Ellis, thanks for a great article on using Twitter effectively. I don't believe we can have too many reminders about the real purpose behind each and every social media platform. This list is priceless. Have saved to Evernote for reference, and have shared with my followers.

  2. Great advice! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom about Twitter... To 'us' young authors learning the ropes... I will take heed and IAM sure my forthcoming book Your Magnificent Self... A Journey to Freedom will be a most magnificent inspiration to others like yourself and your writing Ellis...

  4. I totally agree with you, Ellis!
    Oftentimes, Barbarically blasted with marketing tricks and advice, we tend to forget that there is a reason behind this 'social' in 'social media'. Good points there!

  5. Thank you for the reminder on how to use Twitter effectively. I have some changes to make in my strategy; it is all too easy to simply post links to books. I have some work to do to create some Tweets about my writing, fiber arts and alpacas.

  6. I'm not even smart enough to have a smartphone, I've got a cellphone from the pre-smartphone era, and you know something, it makes great phone calls, reminds my ageing brain to do important tasks and wakes me up when I need to go to an early doctors appointment.

  7. Thanks, Ellis. It's common sense wisdom that too many people forget. Cheers!

  8. Really helpful advice. I love Twitter and enjoy learning how to use it more effectively.:-)