Category Archives: Twitter Help

A Place To Get Help

Having a problem with Twitter? Leave a comment below (and send us a tweet telling us you have left a comment) and we’ll read and respond!

If we’ve asked you to provide details here, you MUST do that (and stop tweeting us). We can’t help you without more details first.

BUT: We won’t respond if you don’t provide some details. We just need you to do two things:

  1. Tell us what app or website you are using (e.g Twitter.com or Twitter for iPhone, etc.).
  2. Be very specific in describing the problem. Include URLs to make it clear where the problem is if using Twitter.com. Don’t say things like “I can’t see my tweets!”

If you don’t provide those details, we may not be able to help, so please take a moment to be clear.

If we need the details of the phone or computer you’re using when the problem happens click here to see the details of your system to paste into your comment.

Working With Twitter

Although we’ve helped thousands of people, realize that we don’t work for Twitter, but we will help you if can.

You may need to create a ticket to get Twitter to help you. If you do, it’s crucial that you read about how to work with Twitter’s ticket system. If you already have a Twitter ticket, be sure to read about how to work with Twitter’s ticket system right now, before leaving us a comment.

Confusingly, it may be critical that you DO NOT create a new ticket, or it may be critical that you DO create a new ticket, so be sure to read about how to work with Twitter’s ticket system if you haven’t already. As

At it says there, use Twitter’s online system, not email or tweets, to contact Twitter. You will get an email you must respond to. You must NOT create multiple tickets. We can’t do anything to help you in working with Twitter except help with problems we know solutions for—of which there are many—or help you manage working with Twitter’s help system.

Why This Page?

I’m providing this page so that if you need more room than a tweet allows to describe your problem, you’ll have plenty of space :-)

Why send a tweet too? Because we see tweets quicker than we see blog comments. But we’ll see your comment even if you never send us a tweet.

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 Twitter.com 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 ;)

How to get your question answered on Twitter

1. Don’t use multiple tweets

Don’t ask if you can ask, or split your question into multiple parts. Just write your question into a single tweet.

Ideally, keep your question to under 140 characters. If you must go longer, use a service like TwitLonger.

2. Include a question mark “?” in your tweet.

If you don’t, people that are trying to help you might not see your question. The first I always check after being away from Twitter is any tweets or DMs with question marks.

Because @TweetSmarter can get up to a 1000 tweets and DMs in a day, I can’t read them all. So if you’d like help, be sure to include a “?” in your tweet so I’m sure to see it. (I also look at all tweets that have the word “question” in them, even if they don’t include a “?” but most people only search for the “?” when trying to find questions to answer.)

3. Have a username strategy

Best of all is to send a DM (direct message) to someone that can help you that follows you. DMs lets you have a conversation where everything is in one place (on New Twitter) and send a lot of messages back and forth without overwhelming your timeline. Also, many people with questions prefer the privacy of DMs.

► The strategy most likely to get a response from a regular tweet to is address your tweet to one account specifically, starting with a “.” such as:

.@TweetSmarter Is there a way I can tweet over 140 on a Blackberry?

(Learn more about how to use the “.” at the beginning of your tweets.)

► However, if you’re in a hurry, add 1-2  usernames of people (NOT at the beginning of the tweet) you hope might answer your question, and make your tweet public e.g.

Does anyone know how to tweet over 140 on a Blackberry? @TweetSmarter @BBGeeks

4. Don’t Tweet accounts that don’t answer

► Don’t put @Twitter in your tweet—they don’t answer. It’s also a bad idea to ask other official Twitter accounts, generally. They get too many tweets to answer.

Don’t add more than two usernames to a tweet, generally. It makes you seem disconnected and desperate, and it also suggests that anyone responding should first check to see if someone else has responded—which is too much work for most users, who like to deal with tweets quickly.

5. Thank anyone that helps you!

The more you thank or praise people, the faster you will make connections to good people on Twitter. Do it several times a day, if you can! That way people who are checking out your tweets for the first time will see you are real person grateful for the assistance of others. It makes you a more appealing person to follow.

Also, remember to make any “thank you” tweets public! Check out http://bit.ly/TweetThanks for more tips on how to do that.

6. Wait for an answer

Many people don’t see their tweets every day, or even every other day. Don’t tweet someone a second time until you’ve given them three days or so. If they don’t respond to a second tweet, stop tweeting them.

7. Prepare in advance by making connections with people that can help you

People are more predisposed to helping people they have already made a connection with. Read “How to find and engage influential Twitter users.”

8. About getting help from @TweetSmarter

We try to respond to everyone that tweets us with a comment or problem. See “Tips for getting the most from @TweetSmarter.”

9. Infographic on Twitter questions:

Source: http://blog.inboxq.com/54320628

 

One simple step to making money or being popular on Twitter

Don’t assume this is like similar advice you’ve seen until you’ve seen my secret to making this work! But here’s the one step:

1. Search for people who need help and help them.

Easy, right? However, there is a real secret to making this work that I’ve shared at the end of this post.

How can this make me money?

Search for people who are looking for recommendations of things to buy and give them a recommendation via an affiliate link (where you earn a commission if they buy). Or if you have a business, search for people who are looking for the goods or services you provide and help them.

I originally wrote this advice to a client just for how to find people to help, but I learned later they were using it almost exclusively to find people to sell things to, so I decided to modify this post so I could include this warning: If you send lots of tweets to people trying to sell stuff, you can be suspended as a spammer.

Don”t overdo it. Don’t just throw links out there with a sales pitch. Be conversational, ask questions and be helpful. Don’t repeat the same tweet over and over to different people. Most important, realize that people DON’T want to hear a sales pitch as a result of something they tweeted. (You might also like “7 Insanely Useful Ways to Search Twitter for Marketing“.)

How can this make me popular?

Answer questions that people are asking. Particularly, find people asking about things that you are most knowledgeable about. But on Twitter, it’s always good to find people with Twitter questions that you can answer and answer them! Everyone with some Twitter experience knows something worth sharing. I even have a page on this blog specifically devoted to people tweeting us questions about Twitter.

The secret

The better the search you do, the better the result, and I’ve discovered that even among internet geeks, very few people know how to do a really good search, so I’m going to share a few advanced searches. And, get this: by using Google, you can do searches that actually cost money if you try to do them elsewhere. Google pays to see all tweets, then lets you use their awesome search capability to dig through them.

I can sometimes find a new question as often every two minutes by doing searches such as what I’ll demonstrate for you. That’s hundreds a day! Yes, not every tweet is going to be a question worth answering, but this is still an awesome tool.
Start by experimenting with this Twitter search.

Building your own search

  1. Notice in the middle of the left-hand column there are two choices under “Anywhere:”  Nearby, and Custom location. These are particularly great for local businesses, of course, but sometimes there are events happening in particular areas that you may want to connect with people about. Experiment, as not every kind of location entry will produce a result.
  2. Change the word “Twitter” to whatever you want to search about. Here’s an example search for “t-shirts” instead.
  3. Remove terms you don’t want to see. For example, here is the t-shirt search with the terms “printing” and “printer” removed.
  4. Search only for people using variations of “anyone recommend.” This will tend to show many fewer questions, but they will tend to be more what you are looking for. Here’s an example.

NOTE: Type your own search terms into Google (copy from the query above) when ready to use these searches. Starting from the links I provide can sometimes make Google search act wonky as you move forward or backward in time. Best to type (or copy/paste) the terms into Google yourself.

Alternatives

The most typical kind of search simply includes a question mark “?” and a keyword, such as this Twitter search for restaurant questions. Experimenting with question mark searches can bring up many more questions, but also many more irrelevant ones. But if you don’t mind doing the work of sorting through them, this will bring you even more results.

Summary

When I was new to Twitter, I spent a lot of time doing search like this to find people with Twitter questions I could help. Now I get so many inbound questions I don’t have much time to search for people with questions anymore. But I still do from time to time. Everyone should! It’s very easy, and takes only a small amount of time.

For businesses, I tested this one day by responding to everyone who was looking for a product recommendation over a 12 hour period. My wife and I researched each question and found a product on Amazon.com we could link to. It was a lot of work, but I do several question-answering tests of various kinds throughout the year anyway.

The result? We made two sales. Since I’m not on Twitter myself to make money, this is not something I want to do with my time, but as a proof of concept, it worked. We made money. But, a warning: work very, very hard at being friendly and conversational instead of using a sales approach. Remember the warning about not being a spammer! I said things such as

  • “Have you ever tried [link]?”
  • “Something I saw that might interest you might be be [link]”
  • “Did you find anything yet? Did you look at [link]?”
  • “Something I use is [link]” (only when this was true)
  • Etc.

Why are so many people so helpful on Twitter?

Some people are helpful because it’s easy, or they figure out that they can help themselves by helping others. Others come to Twitter because it’s the best place in the world to help others! No matter who you are or why you’re here, Twitter can help you if you help others.

► Power to the people

The first reason is because it’s easy! Simply by retweeting something, in one or two clicks you spread valuable information. For example, I know a lot of people that search for pets waiting for adoption in their area and then tweet about specific ones. Their local friends then retweet, and together they have built a network for finding new homes for animals. (Take this idea and find other good causes local to your area that you can support!)

And in areas of political unrest, people have used Twitter and social media to protect others, by making information about arrests and perpetrators of violence public in real time, in addition to organizing and reaching out to media worldwide.

► Everyone is an expert to someone

With so many people on Twitter, you can always find someone you can help, and someone who can help you. Often it starts with sharing what you’ve learned about how to use Twitter with someone who is newer here. It’s satisfying to solve a frustration for someone else that was once a frustration for you—it’s called empathy :)

► Reputation building

Even cynics can be successful by putting in some time helping here and there. The more you help, the more others find it valuable to connect with you and promote you to others. I love how some people whose hearts really are NOT in the right place still put on their helping attitude and do some good on Twitter. While they haven’t changed their cynical world view (yet) they still see the benefits to their reputation of doing some good publicly.

► The very finest people in the world are on Twitter

Twitter has such incredible power to amplify a mission of helping others that nearly 100% of the finest people in the world are on it now. It’s amazing that a tool used by so many for little more than random chatter is a channel of communication for the giants of the human race. Twitter even spreads the life missions of those greats that have passed on, through all the people that quote them!

Which kind of person are you?

Probably my favorite thing about Twitter is how people get caught up in helping others without expecting that they would. First you find it’s easy, then you stumble across someone you can help, and soon you find people are connecting with you because of your positive reputation. And—hopefully, eventually—you become one of the finest people in the world yourself!

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.

Twitter users need your help

On the list below at left are people asking us for help with Twitter. Can you help them? We’ll be too busy for a few days to get back to everyone. Thanks! You many have to scroll down, as there are also other kinds of questions mixed in. For more information, scroll down to below the lists.

Plus, if you really like helping, look at this list of people asking Twitter questions, or this list of people you can help with their Twitter questions.

People who need help People giving help

What’s this about?

Above is a list of people that could use your help (read the tips first, though). Please help anyone you can! Why? A great way to get followers is to find people you can help…and help them! The right hand column is a list of people who are giving help.

In fact, feel free to visit this post anytime you would like to find people to help! When you help someone, if you would add #tshlp to your tweet, that will help me see it so I can thank you :) And if you want to tell them about this post, give them this link: http://j.mp/GetGiveHelp (to encourage them to understand what you’re doing, and what they can do).

Did someone help you?

Tips (or click here for help resources)

1. What if the tweet isn’t a question at all?

Ignore anything that doesn’t look like a question. What’s shown below are Twitter search results (that I’ll try to keep updated) but it won’t be perfect.

2. What if the question is hard to understand?

  1. See tip #4 and #5 below for how to see the conversation that led to the question
  2. If that doesn’t help, tweet the user and ask them to clarify their question
  3. Sometimes it works just to guess at what they’re asking and say whatever seems like it will be the most helpful thing

3. How will you know who helped someone?

  1. If you add #tshlp to every tweet you write when helping someone from the list below, that will help me see it so I can thank you :)
  2. At the very bottom I’ve included a link to people who are helping (at least those that have remembered to include the #tshlp). Also, figure that tweets that are over a day old have probably already been helped.

4. How can I see the tweet on it’s own page for more options?

  1. Underneath each tweet it will say “[X] hours ago”. That is is a link you can click. It will take you to a web page where you can see the tweet all by itself, and depending on your web interface, there will be a variety of extra options, such as…

5. How can I see the conversation the person is asking about

  1. When you are viewing a tweet on its own page there will usually also be some words that say “in reply to TweetSmarter” (or whoever). That is also a link. Click that to see what the person is replying to.

6. What are some resources I can use to help people?

Google search is all you need much of the time :) …but here are some of my favorite links for helping people:

  1. For questions about Twitter applications, use the controls at the top left of the OneForty website.
  2. http://j.mp/TwitterFixes
  3. http://j.mp/LearnHashtags
  4. http://j.mp/TheTwitterBasics
  5. http://j.mp/SearchOldTweets
  6. http://j.mp/MissingTweets
  7. http://j.mp/TwitterSuspension
  8. http://j.mp/TweetSafely
  9. http://j.mp/TwitterTrademarkRules
  10. http://j.mp/TheTwitterLimits
  11. http://j.mp/TwitterAbuse
  12. http://j.mp/HowUseLists

Why Twitter Purposely Breaks Things: The Mysterious Feature Darkmode

“Feature Darkmode” is Twitter’s term for turning off or hiding features on the Twitter website and/or on the API (which affects Twitter apps, meaning programs such as TweetDeck, HootSuite, etc).

Why would Twitter turn things off?

Some of the main reasons are:

  1. When Twitter is running slow, turning a few things off can keep the main part of the service running faster.
  2. When engineers are troubleshooting problems, it can help isolate issues, and let the engineers work on parts of the interface without impacting the entire service.
  3. When engineers are adding new features, it can give them more control to stabilize and test the system as the feature is rolled out.

So basically, this is an (admittedly annoying for users) method Twitter uses to keep things running.

What can be turned off?

Whether to stabilize the service, for testing, or to help engineers control the service when adding or fixing features, Twitter has 90+ features that can be disabled temporarily (known as feature “darkmode”). Twitter can also leave a feature turned on, but not display that feature.

A feature that is commonly limited are some kinds of advanced searches or viewing additional search pages. But Twitter can turn off or hide almost anything you can think of, including:

  1. Preventing usernames and hashtags from being shown as links.
  2. Hiding interface buttons and links, such as the retweet or delete icons.
  3. Hiding the “Update your profile pic” settings.
  4. Turning off the ability to edit Twitter Lists.

Etc., etc.

When is a Feature “Off” vs. “Broken?”

First check to see if the issue is noted on @Support. But you can’t always tell. And that’s very frustrating, particularly since Twitter would like you to report problems so they can fix them. They often rely on information from users to know when things are broken. However, there are a number of places you can check, and things you can do when you encounter a Twitter problem. The best place to start is this article on how to troubleshoot Twitter problems.

How To Ask For Help Via Twitter

First, please just ask. Don’t ask if you can ask.

About half of our time helping people on Twitter is devoted to clarifying what they are asking about…and about 80% of that is due to people not trying very hard to be clear.

Yes, sometimes people try to be clear, but the very brief nature of tweets works against them. But if you’re at least trying, we can often guess correctly what you’re asking about. It’s the people that don’t try that waste so much of our time.

Here are some tips for getting help (also known as my list of pet peeves):

1. At least try to make sense

If we have to ask for clarification after every tweet you send, slow down and think before the next tweet you send. About once a month or so, someone babbles so incoherently and incessantly that it takes dozens of DMs to help them with something simple.

2. “What’s wrong with my Twitter?” or “Help me with my problem”

…is meaningless. You need to be more specific. Say WHAT do you want help with? Don’t use words that can mean multiple things.

3. Read your responses!

When you ask a question, particularly by DM, check for a response! Don’t send multiple tweets without looking to see if you are being responded to. You’re just talking to yourself.

4. Say what it is you need!

  1. Don’t say click this link to find out why I’m contacting you. Do your best to explain what you want IN the tweet or DM.
  2. Also, don’t jump right into arcane details before explaining what you’re trying to do and why. Without what and why, we won’t know what you’re talking about.
  3. Don’t tell me why I should help you unless it also explains what you need help with. I.e., don’t say “you have lots of followers so do this for me” or “I need help because this is very frustrating” etc. Use the limited space you have to say WHAT you want help with.

5. Respond to instructions

If you’re given instructions on what to do, in your next reply say either that you followed the instructions, ignored the instructions, have questions about the instructions, or saw the instructions but need to clarify something first. Don’t just keep talking as if you didn’t read the tweet. In particular, don’t tweet something like “Still not working”—that doesn’t even tell me if you received our tweet. At least say, “I tried everything you said, and it didn’t work.”

6. Read the recent tweets of the account you’re asking for help.

After posting a tweet about a Twitter problem, we typically get several tweets asking about the problem. When we point out that we just tweeted about it, they say “thanks, that’s what I needed to know.” Next time, read our recent tweets before asking.

7. Don’t say “Please fix this” or “What you should do to fix Twitter is” etc.

Twitter “bugs” come and go all the time. Sometimes because Twitter is turning things on and off. If you have a Twitter problem that went away after you tweeted someone about it, trust me, it had nothing to do with your tweet. We get credit all the time for problems that go away after someone tweets us. It has NOTHING to do with us. It’s random. Scroll down on this post to “How Twitter fixes problems” and read about “feature darkmode” if you want to learn more. Also, as Twitter works to fix problems, sometimes other features are temporarily broken. It’s frustrating, but it’s going on all the time at Twitter.

It’s very time-consuming for us when people think we can fix their Twitter problems. Please don’t tweet us thinking we can fix anything. You’re wasting our time and yours. Read the public resources or use the Twitter contact form. If you want to ask a question, fine, we’re happy to help. But I’m tired of taking hours and hours every month with people saying “please fix this.” It’s a  frustrating waste of everyone’s time. There are people we tell this to repeatedly and they still insist on tweeting us to “fix things” for them. Please, please stop doing that. You know who you are.

If you want to suggest or ask something of Twitter, use their contact form at http://bit.ly/twicket. In particular, we (@TweetSmarter) don’t work for Twitter or have any power of any kind to fix Twitter bugs. All we can do is give advice and point you to public resources. In most cases Twitter employees will tell you the same thing: Read the public resources and use the Twitter contact form.

8. Don’t send multiple tweets when one will do

Don’t say “Can I send you a tweet” (you just did). Don’t tweet “Did you get my tweet?” (When I do, I’ll respond to it…or not.) Don’t tweet to say “I sent you a DM.” JUST SEND YOUR INFO AND WAIT FOR A REPLY. IF you waited a few days for a non-critical question answer with no response, tweet it again. Same if you waited a couple hours for a response to a critical question. Sending multiple tweets clogs up the feed of whoever you’re tweeting to, and if they’re busy or popular, it’s very, very annoying.

Would You Help a Twitterer In Need?

Please help! The folks relying on us to help answer their Twitter questions need YOU.

We are going to be delayed in answering tweets for a few days, so here are some links you can check to find people that you can help: Search #1Search #2Search #3 (Twitter search sometimes doesn’t let you see more complex searches, so use whichever one works for you. Read on for what to do).

Could you do us a favor?

You can look through those searches listed above to find people asking for help. Would you then help anyone that you can? We normally answer many questions each day, but won’t be able to for a few days.

If you haven’t already, read this for places to check to get help with Twitter issues. Feel free to do this all the time, if you like! It’s more important to us that people get helped rather than who gets credit. Remember, anyone can request help directly from Twitter via http://bit.ly/twicket …always feel free to share this link a lot!

What to do when you find folks who need help

A great way to participate on Twitter is to help folks, so these tips are good anytime you’re looking for someone to help on Twitter :)

To see if someone has already been helped, click the “Show Conversation” link if there is one. It will show you the Twitter conversation (and change to “Hide Conversation”). Here’s what that looks like:

If you can’t figure out what they’re asking about, take a look at the tweet that they are replying to. To do this, first click the “View Tweet” link under their tweet to be taken to the webpage for that individual tweet. Then look underneath the tweet for the words “in reply to …” If you hover over those words they will change to a link you can click. Example:

Then you can read the tweet that they were asking about. Sometimes they didn’t reply to a tweet, so there is no link. And sometimes that makes it hard to figure out what they need help with!

Thanks, everyone!

And…apologies in advance: I’m going to retweet this blog post a few times because we could really use your help to see that people who need it get helped. We will still be tweeting (but a little less often) and checking some messages. Here are some example conversations we’ve had today: