9 Things to Tweet About

by melissa on September 17, 2010 · 55 comments

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?

Pssst. Yeah, you. If you like my Momcomm Mondays, I’ve got a new badge just for Momcomm! It’s in the column over to the right. Thanks for spreading the Momcomm word. Wee!

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{ 51 comments }

1 Kevin September 20, 2010 at 8:12 am

I struggle trying to find time to devote time to twitter to do all the things you mentioned. I know it’s important to establish yourself and your blog or product/service, but my kids are quite demanding of my time.

2 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm

It can be SO time consuming! But I try to tweet in spurts and then off and on using my iPhone. Actually, do you know who Laura Roeder is? She has a great video on how to use Twitter in just 10 minutes a day. http://twitterwebinar.com/opt-in.html (you have to sign up but it’s free and her emails are actually very useful!

3 Laura Roeder September 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Thanks for the mention Melissa :)
Laura Roeder recently posted..Open Wide- Using Your Mouth To Promote Your Social Media Presence

4 Wanita April 20, 2011 at 3:10 am

SBWTPC I’m out of league here. Too much brain power on dsilpay!

5 Serene September 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

I have to disagree with you (kind of strongly) on #7, but the rest of this post? Golden. Thanks!
Serene recently posted..Three-ingredient Fudge

6 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Thanks for commenting! I’m curious why you disagree with #7.
I know there are plenty of people who tweet WAY too much in that regard but I also think it’s a great way to build relationships or discover more information.

For example, once I tweeted about going to a new indoor park with my kid. So many local twitterers had never heard of it and I ended up helping them discover a new cool park!

Anyway, while I agree #7 can be done wrong on many levels, I’d love to hear more from you about it!

7 Serene September 21, 2010 at 11:26 am

“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?”

These are the mundane details of people’s lives, and I don’t want to know them, and I don’t think they want to know mine, though of course, you have a different take, and that’s fine. A new indoor park is interesting. The same old bank line isn’t.

I have a daily reading list on Twitter. It’s limited to the following three groups of people:

1) Famous people who say clever things (not all famous people do, but they seem to be more aware of being entertaining on Twitter, so they’re more entertaining for me to read)
2) My actual friends and family members (not that I have any family members on Twitter yet, but if I do in the future, I’ll read them)
3) People who post interesting stuff most of the time.

I’m not going to stop reading someone if they post something dull once in a while, but if it’s not mostly interesting, I have lots of other ways to spend my time, and I’m rarely caught up on that reading, so I’m merciless about cutting those folks from my daily reading list. (I don’t cut people from my complete following list unless they’re spammers or bigots or something, but I won’t read them every day.)
Serene recently posted..Three-ingredient Fudge

8 melissa September 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I admit my examples are kinda lame (had to write this post at lightning speed)! I still say that I’m pretty interested in the mundane details unless that’s ALL someone talks about and if they’re tweeting a play by play of their day. Tweeting the answer to “what’s happening” is definitely tricky because it can go to such extremes! Sounds like you have a great system down for using Twitter so that’s really all that matters! :-)

9 Melisa September 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

These are all good suggestions. I see above disagreed with #7…which I think more people than not would also disagree with, mainly because some ppl hate when people tweet about the mundane things they may be doing. Me? I like seeing all sorts of things people are up too!
Melisa recently posted..Fashionable Friday- Do You

10 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Me too- I’m nosy! Plus I’ve learned so many things from tweets and I know people have learned from me (ex. a new park around here that none of my local tweeps knew about).

11 Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation September 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I love your MomComm Mondays!!!! I totally agree with your Twitter points. Especially about engaging with people and I also HATE that auto DM’s!! What is up with that!!!!
Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation recently posted..Recipe of the Week- Taco Salad

12 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Auto DMs are the WORST!

13 Michael Senchuk September 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm

My wife and I are in the midst of buying some property in Peru, and we were commenting that we should have a lawyer look over the sales contract (in spanish). I instantly remembered I followed a real estate agent (and he follows me back), so I asked him, and about five minutes later he responded back with a recommendation. That’s the kind of thing twitter is great at, is connecting people so you know where to go when you have a question.

14 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:30 pm

That’s great- don’t you just love Twitter for that? I’ve used it a lot to ask a question and someone always comes through!

15 Aarn Farmer September 20, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I had never heard about hashtag.org. Thanks!

16 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:30 pm

It’s relatively new to me too but it’s a great, simple resource!

17 Jennifer September 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I would add mobile tweeting. Not 4square (because that makes me a little nuts), but to add an app to your smartphone. I’m on twitter a lot in dr’s offices or waiting in line at the drive through or waiting to pick my daughter up from dance. It is easy to hop on for 15 minutes, participate and hop out.

18 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:31 pm

So true! I’d say about 50% of my tweets (or more) are done from my phone.

19 Autumn September 20, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I never know what to say on Twitter, but everyone says it is a valuable resource, so I have to endure it :) Thanks for the tips. I will definitely keep these in mind the next time I open my keyboard “mouth”.

20 Fadra September 20, 2010 at 3:36 pm

There are lots of people that don’t know what to say. Like Melissa, I either “butt in” to a conversation that is interesting (which is totally acceptable on Twitter or I ask a question. If i’m looking for factual info, I go to Google. If I’m looking for opinion, I go to Twitter. Faster than Google!!
Fadra recently posted..Life After Cheesesteak

21 Fadra September 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Clearly, everyone has their likes and dislikes about Twitter. I think the misconception about Twitter is that ALL people do is tweet about mundane things. I engage other people more than I tweet out myself but I do find that the most random things elicit responses. The night I was tweeting about watching Willy Wonka, I had people coming out of the woodwork to share their favorite parts.

As for 4square, it can be annoying but it can also be good to start a conversation. I might add a comment when I check in “OMG, they have the BEST fried pickle chips here!” which in turns starts a lot of chatter.

I didn’t know about hashtag.org so that’s good to know. And thanks for the McD’s shoutout!
Fadra recently posted..Life After Cheesesteak

22 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:33 pm

All that is SO true. I feel like I get to know someone better with those “mundane” tweets- as long as they aren’t tweeting every single thing they do all day.

I meant to tell you about the shout out– glad you saw it!

23 Andrea (Lil-Kid-Things) September 20, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Excellent tips again! And you are SO right about brands listening in. I tweeted about a post I did where I challenged myself to try a week’s worth of recipe’s from a Martha Stewart mag and they linked to it frim the EveryDay Food blog! Twitter has done more than any other medium for my blog and also for personal connections with my readers. As an aside, I have found some awesome blogs that I never would have seen otherwise.
Andrea (Lil-Kid-Things) recently posted..Storkie Express Custom Stamps Giveaway!

24 Natalie September 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

This is an awesome post for somebody considering joining Twitter or for newbies. Some good info for those of us who are addicted, too!
Natalie recently posted..Friendship

25 Renee(2old2tap) September 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I love this post!

I’m twitterdicted, so am already doing most of these. Including #7, ie: “I’m sitting on the couch”. I love doing that!
Renee(2old2tap) recently posted..Short Confession of a Slob

26 Hannah September 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I actually have just joined the Twitter bandwagon LOL. I am still trying to figure it all out, but so far it has been fun. Thanks for the tips I needed them! Hope you have a great week!
Hannah recently posted..Sunday Citar

27 Andree September 20, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Hello Melissa!

Great post about tweeting (where I haven’t been recently) — and yes, it can be a scary tweety-world out there for new-comers, and even for the learning curve (me) — Twitter is different than our regular communication writing – and all that hashtag stuff can be confusing! Thanks for writing some simple guideline and suggestions!

28 kirstie September 20, 2010 at 6:41 pm

so glad i found you! REALLY liked this article – incredibly useful for someone like me! going to check out the others now!
kirstie recently posted..New features &amp sneak peek

29 Paula@Simply Sandwich September 20, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Thank you so much for the info. It is a lot to digest but I will conquer that fear and check it out! :)
Paula@Simply Sandwich recently posted..More Multi-Meal Cooking

30 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Twitter seriously rocks! If you have any questions, feel free to @ me on Twitter or email me!

31 Audra September 20, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Once again, an awesome and helpful post! I, too, HATE auto DM. I would love to see a post in the future about how to use hootsuite and more about hashtags.

32 melissa September 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Good call! HootSuite is on my list to Momcomm topics but hashtags isn’t… until now. Thanks for the idea!

33 Merry120 September 20, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Loving the Momcomm Monday posts! I am a Twitter addict so I do most of the things you mention above. I really agree with your recommendations in #9. I have had to unfollow quite a few people who tweet ONLY about their latest posts/giveaways/etc. I’m fine with tweeting about that but not 20 – 25 posts all at once!

34 melissa September 23, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Same here! There’s a well known marketing person that I’ve followed and unfollowed TWICE because I can’t deal with his Twitter stream. He posts too dang much!

35 Caroline Mukisa September 21, 2010 at 6:27 am

Another great lesson for me – I kind of knew I should be doing this, but I think the way you spelled it out makes it easier to follow (and that Twitter in 10 mins a day video was a great link as well!) I’m going to give this a proper go – it came just at the time when I was wondering whether it was worth continuing on Twitter. Thanks for sharing!

36 melissa September 23, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Awesome Caroline! Let me know how it goes and feel free to drop me a line (or tweet) if you have any specific questions!

37 Jessica September 21, 2010 at 9:54 am

This is great! I often have trouble figuring what to tweet about, so this guide helps!
-Jessica

38 Heligirl September 21, 2010 at 10:54 am

Great MomComm Monday! I’m so thrilled to see this taking off for you and you always have such helpful stuff, Melissa. I love it! I need to be better with Twitter. I’m so swamped right now everything is suffering – the blog, twitter, e-mail. Your weekly tips remind me to keep plotting along. You’re my Unmarketing! :)
Heligirl recently posted..Mom Tip Monday- 3 Alternatives to Offering Rewards

39 melissa September 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Swoon! That’s the best compliment ever!

40 suzanne @ pretty*swell September 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Another awesome momcomm monday post!

I love me some twitter, so I really appreciate all this great information. Lots I hadn’t thought of and will try! Thanks!

And, I can’t get over Fadra’s story! So cool.
suzanne @ pretty*swell recently posted..Sweet on sweetpea prints

41 Tina @ Life Without Pink September 21, 2010 at 9:16 pm

You rock! I love twitter and when I started I had no idea what to do! So this is great advice even for someone that is addicted like me :)

42 Mrs.Mayhem September 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Thanks for these suggestions. I just joined twitter, so I appreciate all the help!

43 Alexandra September 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I love twitter b/c it helps me feel connected and stay connected, even though I may have a day where there’s been no time to visit blogs…I can still stay in the mix, you know?

44 melissa September 23, 2010 at 4:50 pm

That’s a really great point! Same goes for me. I am still connecting with people even if I haven’t read their blog in a while. Love that!

45 Rachael September 23, 2010 at 2:30 am

I love Momcomm Mondays! I’m so glad you started this :-)

46 melissa September 23, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Thanks! They’ve been SO fun to write I can’t even tell you!

47 Jo Brielyn from Creative Kids Ideas September 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Thanks for the great tips! Twitter rocks. I’m a new follower. :)
Jo Brielyn from Creative Kids Ideas recently posted..Teaching Kids with Pizza – Reader Idea

48 Wyletter September 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Good tips. Thanks. When I joined Twitter, I struggled with what to tweet about. Your post provided useful information.

49 Stacy September 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I mostly retweet valuable posts. I haven’t gotten involved with interacting with others on twitter. I like interacting through blogs and forums mostly.
Stacy recently posted..Be Careful What You Tweet!

50 beonca November 26, 2010 at 10:56 am

Great information I will use on my twitters

51 beonca November 26, 2010 at 10:59 am

Looking forward to the Hoot suite post

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