Momcomm Monday is my weekly series to help you become a better writer, blogger and social media geek. If you missed last week’s, catch up on The Secret to a Gazillion Blog Post Ideas.
Twitter scares people.
You log on and see the question: “What’s Happening?”
All between you and a tweet is a cursor blinking in a box tormenting you: “Huh? Huh? Huh? Did you hear me? What’s HAPPENING?”
So what DO you say on Twitter? I’ll give you a hint: if you just answer the question “what’s happening?” you’ll run out of things to say and wonder why all the fuss about Twitter.
If you’re newish to Twitter (or just don’t get it), check out my Twitter is a Never-Ending Cocktail Party first. Then come back. If you’ve been hanging out on Twitter for a while, you have my permission to keep reading.
Hard time coming up with things to say? Here are 9 things you can tweet about.
1. Talk to someone
This is hands-down the most important way to interact with your followers on Twitter.
Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing my marketing hero – @unmarketing – speak at an American Marketing Association meeting. Scott (no his name isn’t unmarketing) said that about 75% of his tweets are conversations with people (done by saying @name). SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT!
Twitter is essentially about engaging with your followers so ENGAGE! No one wants to talk with someone who just talks about themselves all the time or posts links to their new blog posts all day. In fact, I partly base whether or not I follow someone back by their level of engagement with their followers. If I go to a profile page and I don’t see any @s, I usually don’t follow back.
People want nothing more than to feel validated so if someone tweets about the bad day they’re having, send them some sympathy. I promise you it will go a long way.
2. Share articles from your niche.
Did you read an article or blog post the other day that you found interesting, taught you something, made you laugh, filled you with anger or something else? Share it! Most websites these days have either a “share” link or a Retweet button (like the one I have- hint hint).
How do you find these articles? The two easiest ways is to subscribe to blogs in your niche and set up Google Alerts for specific keywords.
3. Tweet using a hashtag.
What’s a hashtag? It’s a way to unite a global keyword around a specific topic or event by using #keyword. For example, when I have a question about breastfeeding, I use #breastfeeding in my tweet. That way anyone following that hashtag can respond to me, not just my followers. If you aren’t sure if a topic uses a hashtag, go to hashtag.org and type a keyword in.
Using hashtags not only exposes you to more people than just your followers, it almost always results in new followers. I recommend following hashtags in your niche. The simplest way to do this is using HootSuite or Tweetdeck but you can also keep two Twitter pages open in your browser: one to tweet and one with search results from a hashtag. I keep a hashtag column in HootSuite for #playoutdoors. I always find great ideas about getting your kids outside in there. And when I write a blog post about being outdoors, guess what hashtag I use? Yep.
4. Retweet tweets from your followers.
The quickest way to make friends on Twitter is to spread the love. Did someone you follow make an awesome blog post? Retweet it! Did someone say something spit-out-your-coffee funny? Retweet it. Try to spend 5-10 minutes a day tweeting things you think your followers would enjoy too.
A little note of RTing. While there’s officially no right or wrong way to RT, I suggest reading @unmarketing’s (it’s okay- you can call me a fangirl) post Don’t Stick It In Their Mouths. It offers a little advice on how to RT without making it sound like your words came from the other person.
5. Talk about a brand.
Complain about a brand, rave about a brand, share a story about a brand… or all of the above. First, it’s a great way to engage with your followers because people almost always have a positive or negative association with a brand. In fact, two of my biggest influx of replies are when I mention Trader Joes (and Joe Joe’s in particular for all you fans) and Starbucks (no one can resist Pumpkin Spice Latte conversations).
A bonus? You never know when a brand is watching. I complained about Sears once and ended up getting someone to address my concerns right away. And you’ll never believe what my friend Fadra got in the mail after tweeting about McDonald’s (her post was even mentioned on their blog).
6.Voice an opinion.
Go ahead, let it out! It doesn’t have to be an earth-shaking proclamation. In fact, any time I tweet about how much I L-O-A-T-E auto direct messages in Twitter, I get no less than 10 people either RTing my angst or replying back with how they can’t stand them either.
7. Answer the original Twitter question.
Well, the ORIGINAL Twitter question was “what are you doing?” Now it’s “what’s happening?”
Answer it! Are you waiting in line at the grocery store behind someone who’s writing a check? Are you chomping on some Oreos? Are you trying to go to bed but are too mesmerized by Twitter?
All of those are tweet-worthy. And if you think that’s useless information that no one cares about, think again. This type of tweet can be the start of a conversation with one or many of your followers. It can also bond you (in a casual way, not a creepy way. usually) with someone. For example, if I’m chomping on Oreos and you puffy heart Oreos and say “Oooh wish I had some Oreos and a tall glass o milk” then I know you’re down with Oreos too and we have something in common. I mean, wouldn’t you want to get to know someone more if you had something in common with them (even something as small as liking Oreos). It’s a baby step to building a relationship with your followers.
It’s hard to make connections on Twitter if you don’t show you’re human.
8. Ask a question.
Twitter is becoming my first place to go when I need a question answered fast. It’s pretty fascinating really! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a question only to have the answer a few minutes later.
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a question with a specific answer. Ask a question to your followers as a way to connect with them. The other day I got a good amount of responses by asking what activities people like to do outside. If people don’t respond, don’t get discouraged though. Try again another day or at another time and maybe even RT a response you get to encourage others to join in.
9. Promote yourself (sparingly).
Tweet your latest blog post. Ask someone to join your new Facebook fan page. Ask someone to vote for you in a contest.
You can do all of this on Twitter but DO IT SPARINGLY. I’ve heard a good rule of thumb is to promote yourself about 10-15% of the time. I think that’s about right. Remember no one is as interested in you as you are.
If you’re tweeting something you think is especially RT-worthy, try not to take up all 140 characters of your tweet. Shoot for 120 so that people can RT easily without having to edit it.
A little tip with tweeting your latest blog posts. Tweet them more than once but not too often that people get sick of them. I usually tweet a post three times on the day it posts- one in the morning, one near lunch and one in the evening. I vary the tweet too so I can see which tweet gets clicked on the most (you have to use a URL-shortening service to see the analytics).
What do you think? Do you struggle with things to tweet about? What sorts of things do you tweet about?
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