It took for Twitter four years to reach its first 10 billion tweets
The 20 billionth tweet came 10 times faster than the first ten billion. After tweeting it, the user tweeted (translation from IDG News Service):
“It looks like I posted the 20 billionth tweet. I’m getting replies from people all over the world. It’s scary. What are the chances? Maybe I’m going to die. Is it more amazing than winning the lottery? I thought it was a joke”
The 20 billionth tweet:
Screenshot of nearly the exact moment from GigaTweet:
While I provide specific steps below, what’s most important is that you (1) be a real person (2) and engage people (3) who are interested in your topic. Any way you do these three things is good! For the best use of this information, see “How ANYONE can become incredibly popular on Twitter.”
Remember to begin by thinking creatively of what categories you would like to find influential people in. Consider using a thesaurus to come up with ideas for terms. For this example, we’ll use “parenting” as an example. Once you have settled on “parenting” as the phrase that best describes the category you’re interested in, you’ll also want to consider finding people who are influential about such key words/phrases as
How to find the most influential people willing to help you
Maybe you’re trying to make important connections for your business, or get your name onto important Twitter lists. Whatever your reason, you need help and connections.
Ideally, you’ll begin by first being a resource, mentor or inspiration for people that can benefit from your help. Start by giving, even if only from enlightened self-interest—it builds your reputation. However, most people want to get what they need first. With that in mind, I’ll cover getting help before I cover giving it—but giving is usually the better place to start.
Figure out who the most helpful influencers are
Most influencers will be on Twitter and Facebook and have a blog or website. Twitter is the easiest place to learn about influencers efficiently, but be sure to pay attention to key influencers even if they are not on Twitter by reading their Facebook status updates or blog posts.
You can skip or abbreviate any of these steps that seem too time intensive:
Rank users by influence scores using tools such as Kred, Klout, PeerIndex, TweetLevel, BlogLevel, Twitalyzer, Tweet Grader, etc. Note that step 3 below—read some of their tweets—can be more useful than their influence rank. So I would suggest not solely eliminating people from consideration by rank.
Create one or more private Twitter list(s) of everyone you are considering.
Follow the users who seem most engaged with other users, and interested in your topic, and add them to a public list.
Over time, add and remove folks from your Twitter list of potentially helpful influencers. Check it from time to time to see if anyone stands out—either good or bad—and to find useful information or opportunities to engage. If you’ve decided to follow them, I suggest either removing them from your first “trial” list or—even better—creating a second list and adding your chosen users to it.
► Tip: Some folks subscribe to see whenever they are added to a Twitter list, so this step alone can help get their attention and increase engagement.
Tweet something about them. By accurately and positively sharing information about them with your followers, you are helping them to widen their reach and deepen their engagement with like-minded people.
Leave comments on their blogs.
These are just a few suggestions: there are plenty of ways to engage others on Twitter.
Find the communities influencers are a part of
There are communities built up around every topic or interest imaginable you can tap into. When you think you may have found an influencer in one of those communities, examine, in order:
Who they tweet with (read their tweets or do specially filtered searches);
Who they have made lists of;
Who they follow.
Who comments on their blog.
Try to figure out which of these three is the most useful. For example, if they have curated good Twitter lists (#2) that will probably be the most helpful—it’s their attempt to give you exactly what you are looking for—key members of a community. But sometimes a user who is clearly highly involved in a specific community and has many followers only follows a few people themselves. The people they follow are then a good starting point (but realize some will be unrelated family, friend, news/hobby accounts that they follow, etc.)
How to tweet your request for help
Through this process of engagement they have learned more about you, and recognized you are a real and engaged person.
And you will have learned who would be most responsive to your request for assistance. When you compose a request for help, be specific. It’s essential to direct requests to people who might be interested or responsive to the topic of your request—you have to have done your homework first. Indicate that you have read their tweets, bio and blog by addressing their interests. Do NOT tweet to random people “I don’t know anything about you, but would you be interested in _____?” Start by:
Tweeting a request for help, not directed at a particular user. Wait at least a few hours to see who responds, if anyone.
Tweet via @ msg—not via DM—your request for help to the most-likely-to-help user you’ve found so far, repeat with the second-most-likely-to-help user, etc.
Space out your tweets by at least 45 minutes, and don’t tweet more than 4 requests for help in one day. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the more you spread out specific requests, the less annoying it is
Wait a couple of days for a response. Many people are a few days behind on reading their Twitter messages from time to time.
The more frequently you tweet in general, the more frequently you can mix in @ messages requesting help from others. But unless your need is urgent, the more you space it out, the better.
Making difficult connections: The “friend of a friend” approach
If you’re trying to connect with someone that follows a relatively small number of people (as many celebrities do), look at the list of people they follow, and find the most engaged people on that list. If you can build a strong and legitimate relationship with the friend of someone, you may be able to get your request or message passed along by them to the hard-to-reach contact. Note that the worst thing you can do is simply ask someone you don’t to do something for you. For example, sending a tweet such as “Hey @[friend], get @[celebrity] to follow me” is likely to get you blocked and reported as a spammer by multiple people. You’re also likely to be blocked and reported as a spammer for tweets such as “Hey @[celebrity] follow me back!”
Be real and engage people interested in your topic
The more important part: Helping, and building a community reputation
As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s best to give before you get. With that in mind, use the same techniques as above, but look for people that could use your help, instead of the other way around.
Since these people are harder to find in directories, use Twitter search. Experiment with search terms to find people tweeting about things you can help them with. And that means NOT sending tweets trying to sell them your product or service. Educate, advise, consult and inform. Don’t sell. This is a reputation you’re trying to build, not a sale. Follow up. To help someone, do Google searches and ask others for advice and help on how to help them. When I find a question I don’t know the answer to, I ask others for help, and pass along what I find to the person asking the question (along with the usernames of the people who helped).
Build your reputation one person at a time. Give each person you try to help “awesome service.” Once you’ve built up a reputation as a giver and a resource, getting people to help you becomes much easier.
If you’ve been using your Twitter account very differently from this, you may want to consider opening an additional Twitter account.
A Secret Benefit
A lot of Twitter users are NOT very engaged. If you don’t try to find the engaged ones, Twitter can feel like a ghost town at times. But if you follow this approach, you’ll have a completely different experience.
Users often ask me why so many of the people they tweet don’t respond. A lot of people don’t know how to use Twitter properly, and are just here shouting things and not engaging. Also, sometimes a mostly spam account can fool you—some of them try to fake appearing engaged by sending messages to other spam accounts—fake conversations. Of course, they won’t respond to you—there often isn’t a real person reading incoming tweets.
Also important to realize is that most people take much more time to respond to tweets than to other ways of communication. Give someone the better part of a week before assuming you’ll never hear back.
It doesn’t matter what the relationship is between the people sending messages to one another. Anyone who follows both of the people chatting will see their messages. No one else besides the people chatting will see the messages.
Rule #1: A person must follow you before you can DM them. If @Mom and @Dad (fictional example names) want to write completely privately so no one will see what they write but each other, they have to DM each other.
Rule #2: Anytime you put an @someone anywhere in a tweet, it will be sent to that @someone, regardless of whether they follow you or not.
2. Creating tweets only your “family” can see
But what if @Mom and @Dad want to write tweets that @Sister and @Brother can both see, but no one else can see? Then they tweet like this:
@Dad Message goes here -or- @Mom Message goes here
So, rule #3 is: When you start your message with @someone, the message will only be sent to @someone and the people that follow both you and @someone. Of course, anyone who follows both @Mom and @Dad will see these tweets, but for the purposes of our example let’s assume only @Brother and @Sister both follow @Mom and @Dad.
3. Sharing “family” tweets with everyone
So what happens when you put @someone after the beginning of your tweet? It is sent to all your followers, and to @someone. It’s just a regular tweet, delivered to all your followers. Why do that? It’s a way to share the conversation you’re having with @someone with ALL your followers. If you’re just saying something directly to them that you want everyone to see, it’s common to write
.@someone message goes here
If you’re just saying something about them you want them and all your followers to see, you’d tweet something like this:
So like I was saying to @someone the other day… -or- .@someone did something cool the other day…
Since anything you put before you write @someone will have the same effect, both of these messages are sent to all your followers and to @someone. It’s just common to use a period “.” if you’re talking to them directly, but you want everyone to see it.
4. How Tweets are viewed, and how to make it work the way you want
Twitter applications and the Twitter website provide several ways to see your tweets. One way, called @mentions has a problem you might want to work around. This is typically how most interfaces show you tweets “sent” to you.The problem is that @mentions are a list of every tweet that has your @username in it. If lots of people you don’t want to hear from start writing tweets with your @username in them, it can be overwhelming. This happens to popular/celebrity Twitter users, and also to people who get retweeted a lot. What to do?Simple: add a search for message sent just to you to your favorite interface. The Twitter search terms for messages that start out with @TweetSmarter, for example, is:
Since the web interface will save searches for you, I have this one saved: a search for messages sent just to me.Here’s how that works:
5. Viewing conversations
Twitter does notice when you click “reply” on any interface instead of just typing in a user’s twitter name. It then will show you both your “conversation” by making all tweets replied to available for viewing on some interfaces, by clicking “view conversation” below the tweet. Thanks to @WalterKort for reminding me of this feature
6. The exceptions
The exceptions are mainly just ways people can see everything you tweet, regardless of how you are using @’s. “Who sees a tweet?” usually means “When I tweet something, who does Twitter send it to?”
Exception #1: Your Twitter page
People can also see your tweets by going directly to your Twitter page. Everything you tweet is shown there to everyone (except your DMs). If you don’t want that, you have to make your tweets private. The only time anyone will visit your Twitter page in most cases is the first time they hear about you. Then they’ll just check out your page to see if you are the kind of person they want to follow.
Exception #2: Searching for tweets
People can search for tweets, and all your tweets (except your DMs) that match what is being searched for will show up. So your tweets are more public than you might realize, especially because of…
Exception #3: Applications can create exceptions
Some applications show your followers what you tweet by using Twitter’s search features. That means they’ll see everything you tweet (except your DMs). Most applications don’t work this way though.
Exception #4: Users that don’t exist
This was pointed out to me by @gnarlydawn, and testing confirms it: If you address a tweet to someone that doesn’t exist (perhaps through a typo), e.g. “@suspended …” everyone that follows you will see it. You might have expected that NO one would see it (since the user doesn’t exist), but when Twitter can’t make sense of the username, it shows the tweet to everyone that follows you.
Exception #5: Clicking vs. typing
Can the “reply” function override or change how a tweet works—change who sees it? This appears to no longer be the case. How it used to work:
When you clicked a “Reply” link in any interface, it writes the first part of the tweet for you, such as
…then you simply add what you want to say to @someone and everything works normally. But what happens if you don’t click anything and just type (or cut and paste in)
It looks exactly the same, doesn’t it? But Twitter could originally tell if you clicked a “Reply” link or not, and the rules only applied if you clicked the link. If you typed or cut and pasted the @someone in, your tweet was shown to everyone, same as if you used the .@someone trick. Alternatively, what if you clicked “Reply” but then deleted the username you were replying to? Read my comment here for more details on this.
7. What about protected accounts?
No one can see your tweets unless they follow you, period. It doesn’t matter if you follow them and include their username, or anything else. If they don’t follow you, they won’t see any of your tweets. And of course to follow you, they must request to follow, and you must approve. Protected accounts are hence very limited.
Update: If you follow @Support, you can DM them (even though they don’t follow you) and ask your question that way. Though it doesn’t always work. For what is often a better but sometimes slower way to contact Twitter support, read on:
Each time you file a support ticket you go to the back of the line (Twitter handles them in order received) so only file one ticket, respond to the email they send you, and wait. If you file multiple tickets frequently enough, it only guarantees that you will NEVER get a response.
If you didn’t get any email notification, you’ve filed a ticket regarding suspension and it’s been awhile and you haven’t heard anything back yet, send a tweet something this:
@Delbius my ticket number is #12345 want to know if/why my account was suspended & what I can do
Suspension is not always a death knell!
Accounts can be permanently suspended. But for lesser infractions, or for some first-time infractions, accounts can be restored/unsuspended. Just because it was suspended does not always mean you can’t get it back. It DOES mean though that changes to your practices MUST be made or problems fixed.
Twitter has a number of “tests” for an account before it comes under review or suspension. They don’t divulge all the flags against you but point out the main area they feel you need to improve in.
Granted, Twitter could provide more details to users whose accounts become suspended. A common error that can get your account suspended is automated following/unfollowing combined with links that are clearly from feeds. This marks an account as possibly fully automated which Twitter does not want.
There are several different kinds of issues that could be happening here:
Your Tweets and Hashtags are not showing up in search.
Your Tweet count is incorrect.
You’re missing a group of Tweets from my Profile timeline.
SPECIAL TIP: If your problem is on Twitter.com, you can reset your browser cache (which is known to fix some problems) by using your keyboard. Here’s an approach that works for most: Hold down the “Ctrl” key (command for Mac) and press the F5 (function) key at the same time. If that didn’t work, see http://j.mp/ClearCache.
Options for help outside of Twitter
Many things are not Twitter problems, per se. It’s always a good idea to search for a support website or support account relevant to your problem if it’s an application or third-party service, such as TweetDeck, TwitPic, etc.
You can ask other users for help on the Twitter page at GetSatisfaction. Twitter used to say they monitored this site. Now they say instead “We encourage users to help each other get the most out of Twitter. Often the community provides answers and solutions faster than we can respond directly.”
There are also a variety of third-party services that try to help Twitter users get all kinds of questions answered. One example is the TweetQA service.
And of course you can always send an @message to other users that you think might be helpful. Don’t bother sending @messages with questions to @Twitter though. Your best bet if you want a response from Twitter is to file a ticket.
Twitter “tracks tens of thousands of metrics in real time” to find problems. They also watch incoming trouble tickets, and comments users post on the Twitter known issues pages. They don’t pay much attention to tweets to most employees, so if you feel you must send a tweet a Twitter account like @Support, file a ticket first and include your ticket number in any communication.
How Twitter fixes problems
Twitter handles trouble tickets in the order they are received. For some tickets, you may receive an email with suggestions on what to do, and a note telling you to let Twitter know if you still have a problem. If you get this kind of email and fail to respond to Twitter that you “still have a problem” your ticket will be closed. So, watch your email after filing a ticket. Also, if you have left a comment about a problem you are having on a known issues page, you may receive a tweet with further information.
This is an annoying method Twitter uses to keep things running when there are problems, or when things are being worked on. Basically, features are intentionally turned off! Learn more about why Twitter “breaks” it’s own feature here. Also, realize that if you get a FailWhale, sometimes its just a slow server, and if you reload the web page, you’ll get a faster server…or at least you’ll get to see the page you’re trying to visit
Twitter’s biggest improvement was to switch to a queuing technology called Unicorn. This caused them to use 30% less CPU and much less memory on their servers. It was such a big improvement, it allowed them to deploy many fixes and new features without downtime.
John Adams of Twitter has stated “[garbage collection and] SQL problems are root of most of our issues.” Considering that, it is disturbing that Twitter recently decided to halt moving away from SQL for tweet storage, at least for the time being. To help take the load off servers, Twitter stores some things for up to 60 seconds to speed up your access to “real time” information.
John Adams and Nick Kallen of Twitter in the video and slideshow below describes all the geeky details of how Twitter handles issues. Instrumentation and logging is critical at Twitter. Here is one of the key diagrams from the video:
Both third-party ad brokers and Twitter itself have gone through a few twists and turns that shows no signs of getting easier to understand any time soon. As of early 2011, the latest development is that Twitter has two partners that will sell you access to search the “firehose” (the stream of all tweets)—@gnip and @DataSift.
We won’t run ads. No wait, we’ll run several kinds
There are at least ten third-party companies that offer ads on Twitter that show up as tweets. They broker between the advertiser and the user. Twitter, as mentioned, has limited what they can do. But will we see future announcements of greater limitations?
They could also set the standard for identifying ads that are actual tweets. You can do anything you want currently. At one time you could tell some URLs were affiliate links (for example, Amazon.com’s link shortener). But Twitter now reshortens shortened links so they are run through Twitter’s system for checking for malware, and to provide a consistent URL length.
Most important: Twitter should be able to set clearer standards without ever affecting what users can and cannot tweet.
Know of a company offering ads on Twitter? Leave a comment and I’ll update this post and credit you.
More third-party ad brokers are coming
I think this is a given. Eventually, there could be a shakeout, but it’s not that hard to start a service to fit advertisers with people who want to tweet ads for pay.
For now, and in no particular order (using only easily accessible information from each company’s website), third-party Twitter ad brokers include:
Earn Money on Twitter by simply following @PayMeTweets. If you see a tweet on the @PayMeTweets page you’d like to RT for pay, click the rtee.me link at the end of the tweet. Once you accumulate $25 in your account you can request a withdrawal. You can also use the money you earn to pay for your own sponsored tweets, a sort of tweet exchange.
Sponsored Tweets is a new Twitter advertising platform that connects advertisers with tweeters. Advertisers can create sponsored conversations on Twitter. Tweeters can earn money for spreading the word.
Create sponsored likes – Donate or earn money. Create and publish your likes to your twitter, blog or youtube. The more influential you are, the more you get paid Use word of mouth to advertise your business. Choose to run a text or video campaign. Choose to pay for clicks, tweets or videos
Distribute your message through influencers on Twitter & MySpace. Ad.ly’s Performance Ads enable you to target end users in the stream based on what they are reading, their location, and their interests. Ad.ly’s machine learning algorithms ensure that your ads find the right audience. Leverage Ad.ly’s self-service platform now or contact our direct sales team to get started.
Twittad is the largest and most effective form of sponsored advertising on Twitter. Your brand will be promoted across the entire eco-system by evangelists who want to help promote your brand! You can also use our technology for targeted @replies to consumers who mention specific keywords, key phrases OR consumers tweeting near your business! As a Twitter User, you can use the Twittad network to safely and effectively monetize your content. Promote only who you want!
adCause matches advertisers with publishers (twitter users). Publishers will get paid show ads in their twitter feed. The more influence you have on twitter, the more money you will make. Do I have to give money to a charity or a cause? Of course not, you can keep all the dough for yourself, but why not throw your favorite cause or charity a bone. Other users will be more accepting of you displaying ads if they know that some or all of the proceeds are going to a good cause.
Magpie, the original Twitter advertising network, assists brands to harness the power of conversation. Our platform enables advertisers to create relevant, controlled and individualized sponsored conversations in a mutually beneficial partnership between advertisers and twitterers.
Most ad solutions just sell keywords because they can’t deliver measurable engagement or real brand connection. 140 Proof™ can. 140 Proof lets you see customers through the lens of Twitter. We match ads to people by what they care about, using public Twitter data. Successful ads are retweeted and shared with followers. You pay only for your “first-order” audience; succeeding reach via retweets and word of mouth is both free and quantifiable. 140 Proof’s patent-pending algorithm reaches the right audience across mobile devices, desktop clients, and the web: wherever tweets are served. Find out more about how 140 Proof can help your brand connect and conquer.
Lets you bid for keywords, and have your tweets shown as ads across a variety of platforms when people search for those keywords. Kind of a mini-Google AdWords for tweets.
What’s allowed, what’s not—for now
Twitter and most of what are now its competitors in the ad marketplace are scrambling to make deals to get their ads into popular programs such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, etc. The makers of those popular programs have their own ideas for showing ads as well.
Of course, if you want to send tweets that are ads—which then show up in other people’s stream of real tweets, Twitter won’t stop you, and will probably never limit your options. They will likely continue making rules for the ad companies, but not for users.
Now that Twitter is showing so many kinds of ads, will they continue to increase the methods of “official” advertising they show? Hard to say, but it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to have stopped yet. I would expect at least one more announcement from Twitter about a new/enhanced/expanded advertising opportunity available through Twitter.
Google ads that are tweets
Earlier this year, Google began running tweets in locations that ads would usually go in. This amounts to advertising your Twitter profile, helping users to get more followers and build their brand. By entering the marketplace of ways to advertise your Twitter profile, Google signaled it was leaving no stone unturned in efforts to monetize the existence of Twitter.
Ways to advertise your Twitter profile
In addition to Google, you can advertise your Twitter profile via several services, including:
Showing you profile by showing a recent or selected tweet is the most common way these services work.
Disclosure: We did some consulting for Chirrps since we love their service—you should try it!—and they gave us a free featured user spot afterward as an unexpected thank you.
We did gain quite a few followers that can be directly attributed to being featured, so I can recommend their spot based on our experience. However, I don’t know what it costs, or what results you should expect.
Also, there are a wide variety of systems for choosing what you tweet. Some let you write most of the tweet. I tested a system some months ago when I saw that two of the paid tweets were things I had already tweeted about for free. But after running three ads one weekend, I decided against continuing. I would only want to tweet things I actually endorsed or felt were useful to share, and finding those things is difficult.
Twice when we found a product we were ecstatic about, we tweeted an affiliate link (Amazon.com) to where we purchased the product. This I feel good about. Something that naturally occurs in our life that could be of benefit to others we of course already share.
Have we missed anything?
Know of another company offering ads on Twitter? Leave a comment below and I’ll update this post and credit you.
P.S. I was tempted—for about a second—to join affiliate programs for the ad programs listed here and link to them via affiliate links. But firstly, it’s a lot of hassle to do so for very little return. Then there is the whole feeling that I’m sharing this information for no other reason than to make a few bucks. Everyone needs money to live, but for now I’m just very uninterested in most ways I’ve seen of using ads to make money from Twitter.
Find significant Twitter users by comparing popular lists
TweepDiff is a great tool for to compare who follows either users or Twitter Lists. But my favorite use of it is to compare who different lists follow in common. You can find lists of top lists at Listorious. For example, here is a list of top lists about users who tweet about Twitter: http://listorious.com/tags/twitter/lists/1
If compare good lists, you end up finding significant users. To compare more than two lists in TweepDiff, click the “+” button (by red arrow in diagram below.) Enter your list names in the format show below:
So here, we’re comparing two of the most followed lists of tech tweeters with two of the most followed lists of overall preeminent tweeters. If there are more than ten results, TweepDiff splits the results into pages, and gives you the option (upper right on results page, shown below) to see more than ten results per page. The results page in the upper left shows the total number of twitter users found on all lists, in this case—”Common (2)”—two:
So @GuyKawasaki and @TweetSmarter are the only two users that appear on all four of these Twitter Lists. With—amazingly—exactly 444,444 followers between them at 10:44 (Eastern time) on July 4, 2010.
Other great Twitter list tools:
These are tool that work with Twitter’s Twitter List feature. Third-party tools for making lists of Twitter users, such as TweepML, are not covered here.
How to create Google searches for Twitter Lists: simply change the last word (after the “/”) in this search: site:twitter.com/*/keyword to search for Twitter Lists containing your keyword. You can also search for multiple words by putting a hyphen between them, such as site:twitter.com/*/business-news. Be sure to avoid any spaces in your search.
What are we missing?
Leave a comment with your favorite Twitter list tool and I’ll add it to this list. Thanks!