Monthly Archives: April 2011

How to let me help you on Twitter

You may want to read instead “How to get your question answered on Twitter.”

My apologies.

If I sent you to this post, it’s because I’m trying very hard to help you, but your responses are unclear. You may think the fact that you forgot or weren’t quite clear on something I asked or said shouldn’t be a big deal, but I can’t help you unless I can understand very clearly what the problem is. You’re probably a very nice person who is just very frustrated. And believe me, I’d like to help you. That’s what I’m here for.

I’ve left the table at least once at every holiday dinner party with my family for years now to help people with Twitter problems. Yes, I’m helping you for free, in my spare time. No, I’ve never worked for Twitter.

Here’s what you need to do to help me help you:

I won’t be any good to you unless you help me help you. First: If I’ve asked a question or given a suggestion, don’t write me anything else: Answer the question or try the suggestion first. If you don’t remember what I asked or suggested, go back in your tweets or DMs and find what I wrote you, read it again and do what I asked or suggested.

Provide details on what you have done. Don’t just say “It’s not working” or “I did what I was supposed to.” You have to provide details. What exactly did you do? If you tried troubleshooting, what steps exactly did you take?

If I give advice for a type of computer or device that you aren’t using, let me know. For example, if you’ve been asking me how to fix a problem with your mobile but have switched over to your desktop, you need to let me know.

If I advise something, and I ask you “Did you do it, and if so, what happened?” tweeting back “I’ve tried everything” is NOT an acceptable response. You didn’t answer my question. Did you try what I suggested, yes or no? What happened when you did? I’ve noticed people who say “I’ve tried everything” often did NOT try what I’ve suggested.

Realize that If I had a solution I would have given it to you already. What we’re doing now is called “tech support” and the faster you can be clear with me on the problem and answer my questions and try my suggestions the sooner I can tell you if I can help you or not.

What’s the secret to success on Twitter?

Listen to advice from people on Twitter. Don’t just follow it blindly, though. Take what one person tells you, think about it, and research it. Use it as a basis to ask questions and do searches for more information. At least half of the useful things I’ve learned on Twitter have come from other people.

I’ve done so many things that needed to be done better…and I’ve changed in response to feedback. I’m still adapting today, and there are still things that need changing that I’ve been slow to take on. I love to hear anything people think, even if they feel they have a serious disagreement with the way I’m doing something.

So my three-step program to Twitter success would have to be:

  1. Care and listen
  2. Engage and question
  3. Respond and adapt

I’ve learned that it’s the Twitter community—and my responsiveness to them—that is the “secret” of success at @TweetSmarter.

10 Twitter Behaviors that’d make you look crazy in Real Life…and Vice-Versa

Here is some classic Twitter humor by @LenKendall

10 Irrational Behaviors on Twitter that’d make you look crazy in Real Life

  1. Write letters to inanimate objects or brands: “Dear 34 Bus, if you don’t show up in ten minutes, I’m going to consider hitch hiking as a permanent solution to transportation.”
  2. Repeating a statement word for word that was just said minutes before.
  3. Following someone even though they don’t want to talk to you.
  4. Walking into a crowd on Friday morning and shouting out the names of eight best friends.
  5. Quietly handing someone a note that is asking them to join your Spymaster league.
  6. Proving someone wrong in a debate by referring to statement they made exactly twenty-four days ago at 3:30pm CST.
  7. Carrying a rubber stamp in your pocket and slamming the word “FAIL” on everything you don’t like.
  8. Jumping out of an alley and responding to a question that someone asked someone else.
  9. Taking real words and melding them together cleverly while NOT being a rapper.
  10. Having 100,000 people walking behind you and you’re NOT the Verizon guy.


10 Things you do in life, that would make you look crazy on Twitter

  1. Telling someone a good anecdote and NOT mention who told it to you.
  2. Finishing essentially any kind of poem other than a Haiku.
  3. Only talking to a few dozen people a day.
  4. Telling people to “Google It’ when recommending a funny website.
  5. Having a conversation with just one person at a time.
  6. Taking and sharing photos of things other than gadgets, food you’re eating right now, or people that are currently pissing you off on the bus.
  7. Telling people about news more than 24 hours after is happened.
  8. Driving and Talking at the same time (I hope)
  9. Participating in a spelling bee.
  10. Semi-coherently mouthing the words to the latest Katy Perry song that’s playing on the radio.


Top Twitter Tips & Tools For Week 15, 2011

Here are the most clicked tweets from @TweetSmarter by category in order of popularity for Monday April 11, 2011 through (and including) Sunday April 17:

About Twitter

  1. The Truth About Twitter’s Troubles:
  2. Comedian @stephenfry prepared to go to prison over “Twitter joke” trial:
  3. HUGE list of the most followed users on Twitter:
  4. Why Did Twitter’s CEO Get Fired?
  5. Top tweeter has nearly 2 million tweets!


  1. Did you know you can track anyone’s unfollowing history? Example:
  2. #DidYouKnow …you’re blocked from seeing conversations unless you follow both people?
  3. Why don’t many people follow you on Twitter?
  4. The complete Twitter text and SMS reference:
  5. Don’t Make These Twitter Mistakes
  6. 10 reasons I won’t follow you ► …& 7 reasons I will ►
  7. 5 Reasons Your Twitter DMs Are Being Ignored:
  8. Do you know the 5 Types of Tweets and Where They Appear?


  1. Infographic of different kinds of Twitter users. Which one are you?
  2. Twitter Really Shouldn’t Be THIS Serious: [pic]
  3. The way some people use Twitter, in one image:
  4. What happens when you try to quit Twitter [cartoon]:


  1. 10 Awesome Twitter Analytics and Visualization Tools


  1. #Whoa! Fired employee wipes out whole season of TV show
  2. 52 Incredibly Useful Sites: the Full List:

Interest in Twitter shows no signs of fading

Not sure why…but notice how interest in Twitter has consistently dropped mid Q4 of each year. Any theories as to why?

The chart shows it begins dropping in August/September, and rising again in November. So when the holidays get busiest, interest in Twitter begins rising again, and by New Years’s or so, it’s setting a new record again.

Based on the average worldwide traffic of Google searches for “Twitter”

What makes a tweet great?

A great tweet gets:

  1. (R)etweeted (even possibly becoming a TT—trending topic).
  2. (C)licks on its link.
  3. (E)ngagement, including comments and replies (or a response from a specific user)
  4. (F)avorited

This list of results can be abbreviated “RCEF.” I’m going to give a brief overview of how to write tweets differently to do better for each of the four goals of RCEF.

But before we get to that, you might want to try to find the best time to tweet it, or consider repeating the tweet, or read up on the simplest tip for writing a great tweet about a blog post. Ready? Let’s begin!

1a. Getting Retweets

Tweets with links generally get more retweets than those without, except in the case of quotes and statements, where it doesn’t matter (much). Also, anything that makes a tweet get a lot of clicks, favorites or comments/engagement will influence retweets. The six types of tweets that get the most retweets are:

  1. Warnings and alerts (“Twitter virus spreading”)
  2. Quotes or statements (“You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” ~Ayn Rand” and a statement “Content is NOT King; Relationships are King:“)
  3. Breaking news
  4. Links to fun, relevant engagement (“Quiz: How addicted to Twitter are you?” also such things as “Would you pass the Twitter test?” and polls.)
  5. Information summaries (“4 C’s to help you make the most of Twitter ►Content ►Character ►Conversation ►Community:“), most commonly key stats (“1 in 4 Twitter users earns more than 75,000 [Infographic]“)
  6. Key topic warnings, “secrets,” dangers, etc. (“Did you know you can be suspended for failing to retweet properly?” and tweets such as “Top 10 Tips to Avoid Getting Unfollowed or Blocked on Twitter:“)
  7. Resource summaries. For example a list of useful/new/clever/etc. Twitter tools.

When you write a tweet, you can often angle it to fit into one or more of the key types. Some examples,:

  • A statement and an information summary, with a link— A great tweeter is ►Honest ►Interesting ►Smart with humor ►Relaxed ►A people person ►Caring:
  • A downtime alert and a resource summary, with a link— While Hootsuite is down, 5 other Tools to Schedule Tweets:

1b. Becoming a Trending Topic (TT)

To be the first one that tweets about something that become a TT, you need to get a very popular user or community to begin retweeting you for this to stand a chance, and you need to do it at a time there is not a lot of other competition on the Trending Topics page. To do this, start by using Twitter to get influential people to help you.

2. Getting Lots of Clicks (Blog Visitors/Media Viewers)

Traditional headline writing guidelines apply here. Also, viral media tweets (that include a link to a catchily-described picture or video or cartoon) get a lot of clicks.

3a. Getting Lots of Comments on Your Blog

Use methods for getting clicks or retweets, but apply them specifically to getting comments. Meaning don’t just add “please comment” to a tweet, make the point of the tweet to ask for a comment, using one of the writing methods that get results. Also, posts that already have comments get more comments, so work towards getting initial comments, and encourage people to read them. (For example, some folks trade writing first comments on new posts with a group of friends.) For example:

  1. Poor: “The Twitter curse is affecting my marriage. Please comment.”
  2. Better: “Can this marriage be saved from the Twitter curse? What do you think?”
  3. Good: “Help! I need advice—how do YOU think this marriage can be saved from the Twitter curse? Please read comments!”

3b. Getting lots of Response Tweets (Engagement)

The simplest techniques are to ask a question, make a controversial statement, or add “what do you think?” to virtually any tweet. But to get a lot responses, you need to respond to people yourself over time to build a reputation for being engaging. The minimum standard for engagement is to respond in some way to as many people as you can. This means if three people make a similar funny comment, you need to at least reply with something such as “@user1 @user2 @user3 lol!”

3c. Getting Replies from Key Users

You need to build a relationship in order to get a response . See Win Friends And Influence People On Twitter In Just 5 Seconds A Day for relevant tips.

4. Getting on the Favorite Leaderboard is now the most popular place to see tweets that have received the most favorites or retweets. Traditionally, there has been a competition among users to try to see who can get the most favorites on a tweet on any given day. The key is the most humorous and original tweet usually wins (typically no link). Here are tweets from some of the most-favorited tweet writers to give you some ideas.


@Mikefixs asked if I could narrow down What makes a tweet great? to just one thing. Tough question! But my answer to him was:

“Caring about the people who will read it.”

So pick your goal, create several versions of a tweet, and edit the best versions until you are satisfied!

Top Twitter Tips & Tools For Week 14, 2011

Here are the most clicked tweets from @TweetSmarter by category in order of popularity for Monday April 4, 2011 through (and including) Sunday April 10:


  1. List of FREE Social Media Monitoring tools
  2. Five free Twitter tools worth bookmarking

About Twitter

  1. The dirty Twitter secret of many accounts with lots of followers
  2. 10 Twitter Do’s and Don’ts
  3. Fourteen Very Cool Things People Do On Twitter
  4. 90 million Twitter accounts have zero followers


  1. Bookmark and learn Twitter’s advanced search cheat sheet
  2. Subtle but Very Important Twitter Tips & Techniques You Must Know!
  3. How To Delete A Drunk Night On Twitter & Facebook
  4. 8 Things to consider before following someone—do you check these things?
  5. 10 Ways Twitter Makes You a Better Writer
  6. How to know when your Twitter friends are online?


  1. Hi, my name is Bob, and I’m a Twitter addict… [Cartoon]


  1. Twitter co-founder explains “The five parts of your online identity


  1. Really Nasty Android malware going around


Who should you follow on Twitter? How @TweetSmarter does it.

There are tons of valid reasons to follow folks. I’m not trying to give guidance so much as to be more transparent, since people ask about this :) I follow people mainly though not solely for:

  1. Communication with folks in our interest areas;
  2. To provide tech support (answer questions) for people;
  3. To compile accounts that I can search through for good tweets.

Categories of accounts I have followed include (it changes all the time), in no particular order off the top of my head:

  1. People who help other Twitter users;
  2. People who contact us for tech support;
  3. People who send us Twitter tips that we use;
  4. People that we have retweeted;
  5. People we discover who are helpful and engaging in general;
  6. Popular accounts or real people (not automated accounts) that tweet twitter tips;
  7. People we have engaged with on blogs or elsewhere;
  8. People I expect to be engaging with;
  9. Some people who RT us;
  10. Developers of some Twitter apps;
  11. Certain new followers sometimes;
  12. Twitter-focused people filtered from lists or groups;
  13. People we like chatting with;
  14. Family and friends;
  15. Authors of Twitter posts that we have tweeted;
  16. Accounts for blogs that publish Twitter posts that we have tweeted;
  17. And probably for several other reasons I’m not remembering at the moment!

How we follow

One of us will often go through our stream a few times a week and open a new tab for each person in it that we want to follow. Then we go through each tab and follow each person that we aren’t already following. Plus I do a lot of bookmarking to be followed later, and then open all bookmarks from time to time, follow all one by one, then delete bookmarks. I’ll also run certain searches as RSS through Yahoo! pipes to filter out certain categories of Tweets, then examine and further filter or sort the results in a spreadsheet and create a set of Twitter user URLs to import into Firefox as a group of tabs, and open them all and go through each one and follow. Sometimes I’ll grab the last 3200 tweets from a certain search (the API limit) and just filter and sort it using spreadsheet formulas before reviewing the top results. I have also tried other, similar methods for compiling and filtering lists of Twitter users.

Despite what some people think, you can never be a top account on Twitter just by following lots of people in order to get followers. Our ranking among most-followed accounts drops rapidly as Twitter continues growing. We’re not even close to being one of the top 1,500 most followed accounts on Twitter and will probably drop out of the top 2,000 soon.

What about auto-following?

Though we follow lots of folks who aren’t already following us, most of the kinds of accounts from the list above follow us first, meaning in essence we just have to figure out eventually who to follow back. So it might seem logical to use auto-follow, but the worst kinds of people we follow happen when we turn it on. However, I’ve experimented with leaving it on and then using services to unfollow the very worst spammish accounts (as Chris Brogan and many other tops users recommend). Unfortunately, I may be doing this more often, because it’s very, very time consuming to follow all the people according to rules like the list above, and it’s very, very easy to autofollow and then use tools to unfollow the spam accounts that slip in.



The dirty Twitter secret of many accounts with lots of followers

After the @TweetSmarter account had been around  a couple of months (by Fall of 2008) it started to get a lot more followers. We were getting tons of recommendations, and working hard to help every single person who ever contacted us, so we naturally got a lot of followers—many more than we were following.

Follower numbers on long-time accounts are partly an illusion

But earlier this year I realized @TweetSmarter had been around so long there must be a TON of inactive accounts we were following—people who were never going to DM us, hence no point in following them anymore. They had abandoned their Twitter account.

So I used a service to look at accounts that followed us that hadn’t tweeted in a long time, and unfollowed those that hadn’t tweeted for many months (inactive for an average of about 90 days). It was nearly 80,000 accounts! It took many, many hours over many days to manually unfollow so many accounts, even though we used ManageFlitter (specifically approved by Twitter), which simplifies the process.

►So this is the dirty secret of many older accounts with lots of followers—many of their followers aren’t around anymore, but are still counted in their total number of followers. Perhaps Twitter will one day start removing inactive accounts (they’ve been talking about doing so for a long time) and will update people’s numbers.

What happens when you unfollow 80,000 accounts?

It depends.

If Twitter feels you are simply following people, then quickly unfollowing those that don’t follow back in order to get more followers, they may suspend your account for “aggressive follow churn.” (Note: Unlike some people who brag about having their accounts suspended repeatedly, we’ve never had any of our accounts suspended…ever.)

And if you are unfollowing active accounts, many people will tweet complaints. In fact, many services that exist to let you know when you are unfollowed send out an automated tweet in your name saying something like “@SoAndSo unfollowed me.” It’s easy to do a Twitter search for @SoAndSo and see people complaining about being unfollowed by them.

Some people believe their score on a service such as Klout will change for the better if they unfollow a lot of inactive accounts, because their ratio will be better (having more followers than people you follow). As you can see if you check our Klout history, it doesn’t appear to make any difference—though it might affect some other ratings. Of course, it might not apply much to us, since we’ve had many tens of thousands more followers than people we followed for years.

How can you tell who is doing a lot of unfollowing?

One way is looking at tweets to see if there are complaints. More commonly, you can enter their username into a tracking service like Twitter Counter to see what their numbers are.

However, numbers can lie. For example, If someone follows 1 person for every person they unfollow, you would never see their numbers change on a service like Twitter Counter—following would cancel out unfollowing.


As I’ve said before, I’ve learned that the more transparent I am, the faster I learn, and learning is really important to me. Obviously pointing out that our follower numbers are not as good as they seem isn’t “tooting our own horn.” But this is yet another example that you should ignore follower numbers, and concentrate on follower engagement.

And of course it gets really old having people tweet me and ask how they can get as many followers as we have. So I’m happy to say: put in nearly 6,000 hours over 2 1/2 years as my wife and I have done in writing, reading and researching tweets, and you too can have a lot of followers!