12 keys to Twitter success

From what to tweet to how to tweet it, this comprehensive list details everything you need to find success in 140 characters.

Twitter success requires patience and persistence.

There are many online services that promise overnight success, but true success takes longer. It also takes discipline and commitment.

1. Know that size matters.

Don’t believe it when people tell you quality—not the size of your following— is what matters on Twitter. Both are important.

To build a Twitter following, you must apply the law of reciprocation. If you follow someone, there is an underlying obligation for that person to follow you back. The more credible your account looks—you have links to a blog and a sizeable Twitter following—the more attractive you will look and the more likely the person will be to follow you back.

2. Build a targeted tribe.

You don’t just want a big following, you want a tribe that wants to hear what you have to say and follow your links to valuable content. Your tweets need to be relevant to your followers.

If you want to build a targeted following, Tweepi is a great tool to use. (And it’s free.) Apply the law of reciprocation and follow people in your industry.

There are other tools you can use to build a Twitter following. Another one I use is Twellow. It’s like the Yellow Pages of Twitter.

3. Tweet evergreen content.

Online, your content defines you. The challenge for many is how to come up with ideas for tweets and the content they lead to.

Stephen King reveals the secret to finding inspiration and ideas for your content: “You want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Some people just tweet news and topical content. If you want to build an enduring presence on Twitter and social media (including blogs), link to useful and helpful content not just this week, but over a long period of time.

Link to how-to videos or articles that will add value well into the future, and won’t become dated in 24 hours.

Aim to educate, entertain and inspire—not just inform.

4. Include links to liquid and contagious content.

It is essential to tweet great content. If you want people to share it, you need to make your content compelling and contagious. You can do so by assisting people in solving problems. Your content must do one of four things: inform, educate, inspire or entertain. This takes work, but you can do it.

Create content so good it begs people to share it. Coca-Cola realized the power of this and changed its marketing strategy from “creative excellence” to “content excellence.” Their strategy is “liquid and linked.”

5. Tweet multimedia content.

On Twitter, people expect multi-media rich content. It needs to include media such as videos, Slideshare presentations, podcats, images and photos. Twitter now allows you to view these within your Twitter account.

6. Tweet visual content.

There is a significant trend on the social Web: sharing messages visually. Its power is clear with the rise and growth of platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, the evolution of Facebook, the emergence of Google+, and the obvious popularity of infographics.

Images are bigger and more beautiful than ever before. Share them on Twitter and watch engagement and content sharing grow.

7. Automate tweets.

Many social media purists don’t think you should automate tweets, but it works and saves a lot of time.

Some have labeled me a Twitter maverick, but my principle is to automate content distribution, but not the conversation. This balances efficiency with engagement.

I automate tweets about 90 percent of the time. It provides visibility online and keeps my content in the Twitter stream. On average, I tweet once every 15 minutes.

The tools that save me 60-70 hours a week are Twitterfeed and Social Oomph Professional (a paid service that costs me about $25 a month).

I use Social Oomph several ways, but mostly for these two tasks:

  • Automate tweets.
  • Automatically follow people back. (I can’t manually follow back 3,000 people a month. I need to sleep!)

I enjoy sharing other bloggers’ content. Twitterfeed enables me to automatically share their content on Twitter by detecting their RSS feed when they publish a post.

It achieves two objectives: It enables me to continue to share content that adds value, and potentially extends the reach of my content. Sometimes sharing content from other bloggers encourages them to share yours. Post the content with the blogger’s Twitter handle so she knows you tweeted her link. That’s what I call a win-win!

8. Learn the art of Twitter headlines.

In a world where everyone is pressed for time, you have only seconds to make them click. Your headline is the start of the seduction. This applies to all of your content, but on Twitter, headlines are vital.

9. Tweet to all your social networks.

We all have our preferred social networks. Some people are Facebook fanatics, others are LinkedIn legends, and some are Twitter twerps. Don’t miss a chance to get your content and brand where your customers hang out. Tweet links to content on a variety of social networks.

Edelman publishes a trust barometer every year to measure what creates trust online. It discovered that if someone sees your brand only once, your trust factor is only 4 percent. If they see you mentioned three to five times, your trust factor rises above 50 percent.

The lesson here is make sure people see your brand everywhere.

10. Link your Twitter account to a home on the Web.

Your Twitter account should link to a home that you own, like a blog or website. You should also tweet links to take people to that hub.

Don’t build your home on someone else’s platform. Build your own foundation and hub. This should be a self-hosted blog with your own domain name. Don’t sign the rights to your content to someone else. Sure, post your articles to your Facebook page or Tumblr account, but don’t hand over the keys to a landlord. You never know when he might want to sell or demolish your home. Invest in your own online asset.

11. Tweet with purpose and passion.

This provides the focus and reason for building an online brand in your chosen category. On Twitter, I tweet about subjects at the intersection of my passions and interests. They fuel my social media endeavors. You need to plug your tweets into that power source. It provides the energy to rise early and stay up late, and the ideas and the inspiration for the content.

Most of us love many things, but you need to choose a topic for your Twitter account and blog, and stick to it.

12. Be relentless.

Stephen King writes one word at a time, but he produces 2,000 words a day seven days a week.

This is what we call “relentless.” His passion for his craft enables him to do this. It is his fuel.

You need to relentlessly produce content to tweet, and use Twitter to market and distribute that content.

If you haven’t put a Twitter sharing function on your website or blog, do it now. Don’t make it hard for people to share your content.

In human history there has been no better opportunity to publish and promote your content. Do you tweet enough content? You have a tweeting and publishing machine in your pocket—your smart phone. Use it to tweet on the go.

Do you tweet the right content? Have you built a targeted Twitter tribe?

Jeff Bullas is a digital media coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. He blogs at JeffBullas.com, where a version of this article originally ran. (Image via)

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