Category Archives: About TweetSmarter

Who has Fake Followers on Twitter?

In the Fake Follower Count Of 11 Top Tweeters report from Huffington Post, folks learned that popular accounts can have a lot of fake followers.

In my test using the Status tool, I found that it reports @Twitter itself to have a lot of fakes:

  • Fake: 42%
  • Inactive: 35%
  • Good: 23%

So that made feel a little better when I checked its report on @TweetSmarter:

  • Fake: 11%
  • Inactive: 32%
  • Good: 57%

Almost 4 times less fakes than @Twitter. Of course, I had to check our old account name, @Twitter_Tips:

  • Fake: 1%
  • Inactive: 20%
  • Good: 79%

Note that these are people that followed @Twitter_Tips after it had closed. (For the whole story on the name change, click here.)

So, What Do Fake Followers Mean?

All in all, unless the tool reports a LOT of fake followers, I’m not sure it’s very helpful in understanding popular accounts. Of course, for new or smaller accounts, having a lot of fake followers would be a serious red flag.

While I’ve never bought or advertised for followers, years ago I used to follow groups of influential accounts wherever interesting news was happening, and may have picked up a few fakes that way.

But mostly I expect that we’re simply popular enough to be “credible” and spammers/fake accounts like to follow a few credible accounts to make themselves seem more “real.” (For example, our Klout score today is 80, and it was 87 when Klout added us to their “Klout Stars” program.)

Should You Repeat Some Tweets? I Do. Here’s Why:

If there’s important and popular information that’s helpful to people on Twitter, generally I repeat it within a day or so…even though some people are annoyed by the repeating.

I don’t earn anything by repeating tweets, and 99% of what I repeat is not written by me or anyone I work with.

So I’m not doing it to promote myself, my friends, or to earn money.

What I’ve found is that important, popular information gets just as much readership (and retweets/favs) when it’s repeated as it does the first time it’s sent out. Even if it’s repeated as much as three times (which I almost never do, but occasionally I will repeat something twice.)

Repeats Double, Triple or Quadruple Readership And Retweets/Favs

The statistics don’t lie: most people appreciate the repeats. If I send a really important and popular tweet out three times, it gets three times as much readership. That’s why many top users, such as Guy Kawasaki, repeat their tweets four times. That’s too much for me though. It seems to push the annoyance factor too far for the average user, even though stats show that each repeat gets as much activity as the previous ones when you send them out at different times.

I repeat tweets because it helps people, and people appreciate the information.

Why should I keep that information from people who obviously want it, and tweet something less important instead?

Instead, I choose to get the important information out to as many people as I can. I do this even though some people unfollow us because we repeat tweets.

However, as a courtesy to people, I label most repeats with a “r/t” (without the quotes) so you can avoid clicking on repeats. I started doing this years ago, because people were annoyed when they would click on a tweet they had already seen.

Also, some people asked me for the fastest way to go though our tweets and see only the most important ones. Just pull up our twitter feed and do a search (Ctrl-F) on the page for “r/t” (without the quotes).

Too Much Repeating, Or Just Enough?

So if some repeating is okay, the next question is, do I repeat too many tweets?

This is a harder question to answer. I would say that I probably do repeat too many, in that we would have quite a few more followers if we repeated less (or hid them and tried to make it less obvious).

But I would rather get important, useful information out to people that want it than worry about losing a few followers here or there.

Should you repeat your tweets?

Most people do repeat tweets about their business or things they themselves have written. Generally, my first repeat is 12 hours from the initial tweet: I want it as far as possible from reaching the same readership.

If the information is not particularly current or urgent however, I may wait a few days, while still keeping it at the opposite time of day from the initial tweet.

I also repeat really useful tweets about 6-9 months after the first tweet, if the information is still current and relevant.

How about you? Do you repeat your tweets? What do you think about people that do?

All Is Well

My wife Sarah and I have been inactive on our @TweetSmarter Twitter account  for more than 90 minutes only a few times in the last four years. Today was one of those days.

To those of you who asked if we’re okay, all is well. No great harm or expenses were incurred :-)

I had a quick errand to run with just enough time to get back before a conference call, and no upcoming tweets scheduled. Thanks to a comedy of errors, I got stranded without my phone, and wasn’t able to successfully get a message though to Sarah to let her know to be in touch with the conference folks (she is on WCCO radio weekday afternoons here in the Twin Cities).

So a few hours went out without any tweets from us, and the great folks I was supposed to be conferencing with had no idea where I was or what was happening, which I sincerely regret.

Thanks to all of you who checked in to see if we were okay!

Thanks for 300,000 followers!

Dave and Sarah=@TweetSmarter Photo by Jassie Kurr

We’ll promote ALL eligible charitable information from comments added in the next 24 hours.

We’ll do that by putting the information into a new blog post and tweeting about it to promote your charities. If you add a short description or appeal I’ll include that too.

Sarah and I will also make a personal donation to all eligible charities from comments added in the the next hour.

Your comment must include a link to  non-religious, non-political charity to be eligible.

Thanks, everyone!

If quality isn’t your top objective, what is?

I’ve gotten too busy to meet all my objectives, so I’ve had to settle for doing just two things excellently:

  1. Tweeting high quality Twitter information and security alerts;
  2. Providing quality help to people with urgent or difficult questions.

Making this change has been tough.

While I’ve always made quality my number 1 goal, I hate missing useful information, or relevant breaking news, so I spent a lot of time trying not to overlook anything.  And I’ve also spent a ton of time finding people with Twitter questions that I can help (in addition to answering all questions sent directly to me).

But strangely, wonderfully, as I find less and less time to go through read tons of Twitter articles or seek out people with urgent or difficult questions, people have begun helping do that for me. More people sending me high quality information to share. More people directing users with urgent or difficult questions to me.

I never would have expected that by only having time for my highest quality activities, more and more people would step in to help me help others.

But that’s exactly what is happening.

Which just leaves me with one thought: You guys are awesome! 


How I failed on Twitter, and how I’m changing

My mission as TweetSmarter is broken down into three objectives, which I’ve listed below. I’ve also include my rating of how good a job I think I’ve been doing:

► Where I failed

1. Connect you to people that help (D+)

The two things I’ve failed the most at are:

  1. Staying in touch with great Twitter users, and engaging them and retweeting their content so as to expose them to more people.
  2. Finding and getting to know more great Twitter users.

To those great Twitter users out there that I know, and have failed to keep in touch with, my apologies. More people need to know about you. I’m going to do better.

Only a few things I’ve done right in this area have kept me from earning a complete failing grade here. I could of course automate #2—there is a ton of “Twitter software” out there that does this. I’ve almost always taken a very manual approach to developing and reviewing lists of new people to follow, and I’ve had to drop this step pretty much completely due to time constraints.

► What I’ve done right

2. Provide the best learning content (A-/B+)

I strive to tweet 95% new, excellent content about how to get the most from Twitter, and spend hours each day finding it or sometimes, writing it.

I strive to provide at least five awesomely useful or popular pieces of content each day from wherever I can find it. It’s no stretch to say this part alone is a full time job, 24 x 7 x 365.

Because Twitter has begun recommending @TweetSmarter to new users lately, I’ve had to spend more time answering questions (see next item), and I’ve had less time for finding great content. I strive for an A++ in this category.

3. Answer your questions (A)

I often write entire blog posts to answer specific questions. I answer every question sent to TweetSmarter within an average of two hours or so, many within seconds or minutes. I answer questions on this blog, by Direct Message, via tweet and on other blogs and forums. If I don’t know the answer, I find it. It’s very rare that I pass someone over to someone else for help. I try to help people without passing them to Twitter support unless it’s absolutely necessary. When I do send people to Twitter support or someone else, I try to help them through the process, and follow up to see if they were helped.

► How I’m going to do better

I’ve purchased a new computer, due to arrive at the end of August (I asked for rush shipping but problems ensued), that I’m going to dedicate to automating part of the process of finding great content, which will also allow more people to help me.

What I’m going to automate is preparing info for people that help me, which is step #1 in this daily workflow:

  1. 3-5 times/day I prepare hundreds of article headlines (and some tweets) to be reviewed (can be much more automated)
  2. Rank and review all headlines/tweets (can be done by people helping me)
  3. Read the remaining few dozen articles and decide what to tweet.
  4. Investigate information as needed, schedule tweets.

Most days I do all these steps myself without anyone’s help. I combine steps 1 and 2. By automating step #1 there will be time to read more tweets, which will mean I can do more retweeting. Currently very few of my tweets are retweets because I find content by searching blogs and aggregators. I don’t read that many tweets! And that’s a mistake.

I want to have more usernames in tweets from @TweetSmarter, more retweets, because that’s how people can connect to other users. And by not doing more retweets, I’m being a bad example. Retweets are one of the greatest community builders on Twitter.

► Why I’m going to be tweeting less content for awhile

The only way I’m going to get the time to setup all the workflow automation needed is to tweet less content, and a bit less new content. I don’t want to answer fewer questions, because people rely on that.

So one reason I’m writing this is to have something to send to people who ask “Where did @TweetSmarter go?” I’ll still be here, but until early mid-September or so, I’ll be tweeting less.

…anyone know a Klout-score-addicts anonymous meeting I can attend when my score starts to drop? ;)

How Twitter got 29% more people to sign up

Many people have heard of Twitter. Few understand its value.

A couple of Twitter employees recently gave a talk about the problems people signing up and staying at Twitter have. The most interesting takeway was this:

What keeps people on Twitter is not what brings them here.

First of all, Twitter is hard to learn. How do @ replies and hashtags work, for example? It’s like learning a new language. In fact, even people who have been using Twitter a long time are often confused about the details of how Twitter works.

This is one reason why 100’s of thousands of new users join Twitter each day and never come back again. They never figure out what they can get out of Twitter. If someone hits a barrier in their first use of Twitter and they don’t come back after seven days, they’re likely never to return.

Twitter’s  research team talked to people who signed up, gave up, and then later came back and became active users. They wanted to figure out how to make people find the value they could get out of Twitter. They learned that the more time people spent on Twitter, the more they saw its value.

So one of the first things they did was to replace a suggested users list with a set of categories that allowed people to find the interests they cared about up front, so they received tweets of interest to them, to keep them spending time on the service, finding value here.

Overall, the new process designed after surveying users is now three steps and more time consuming. But nearly a third (29%) more people complete the sign up process now, and the people who do are more engaged.

I also noticed that Twitter sometimes recommends @TweetSmarter as worth following now to new accounts. We’ve easily answered 10,000 questions on Twitter by tweet and DM for new and regular users. It took Twitter three years to notice us, but it won’t change what we do one bit.

We’re here to help anyone who asks, one user at a time :)

My most shared Twitter help links

Note: I regularly update this list.

I have a list of custom short URLs that I’m always updating in response to questions people have. I’ve posted them below.

I don’t create links for everything I regularly share, since some questions can lead to one of several responses. But many common questions lead me to send the same links time and time again.

Some of these I don’t use much anymore, some are mainly for my own reference. But these represent in the shortest form possible some of the knowledge I’ve accumulated about how to help people on Twitter. If you tweet me for help, chances are good I’ll include one of these links.

If you find any that are useful to share with others, feel free to copy them. One day, I might get around to organizing them by category. (If you’d like to do that for me, let me know and I’ll update this list and credit you.) You might just find it something interesting to browse for a bit.

A couple are humorous, a few are personal, many are impossible to predict what they are about (unless you’re me). Some I don’t agree with, but I find I still end up sending people the link when they ask for it. Many lead to support pages. Many of the most popular ones lead back to this blog, since here is where I put together the answers to the most common questions I get.

Here are most of them, in (very) rough order of popularity:

There are actually a bunch more, but I’m too lazy to gather them all together and check for broken links right now. Maybe later ;)