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September 13 2015 Editor Assistance Newsletter

Greetings and Salutations -

OK, you've got your Twitter account set up. You've got a few followers. You're learning how to use hashtags judiciously in each Tweet you make. What are some of the next steps you can take, to boost your Tweet power?

Tweet Follower Limits
As your Twitter account grows you'll start to approach their anti-spam limit. If there were no limits in Twitter then an unscrupulous marketer could make an account and follow millions of users, with each 'follow' request in essence being a marketing promo sent to that user. Then the marketer could make a second account and repeat. A third account and repeat. You could see how this would result in a deluge of "HotelsInBrazil has just followed you. HotelsInPeru has just followed you." and so on messages all day long for every single Twitter user.

To prevent that from happening, Twitter has a floating (and secret) algorithm which manages how followers can build up. The gist of it is this. A brand new account is allowed to follow a few hundred users each day. 200 is a good number to aim for. It lets you be selective in who you choose to follow. When that account reaches a level of following 2,000 accounts, they are blocked from following anyone else. That is, unless some people have begun to follow them back. You can follow the number of people following you plus 10%. So if 3000 people are following you, you can then follow 3,300 people.

For some Tweeters they look at this in a mercenary way. They only care about gathering up people who will follow them. If they follow an account and it doesn't follow back, they stop following that account.

I would advise taking a more holistic approach to this. Twitter is about long term development of fans and trust. It's about tweeting things that people will want to share. Someone who hasn't followed you yet may be on sabbatical and may become your most die-hard fan. If you're following people who are in your topic area that's a good thing. It doesn't matter if they follow you back or not. Keep finding more people in your area to follow and keep making forward-worthy posts. Those are the keys to having those numbers grow.

Each Friday, the TwitterVerse explodes in a swell of posts with the hashtag of #FollowFriday or #FF. This is about rewarding the people who you find to be the most useful with some love. During the week, keep track of the users who post things that are useful, informative, cool, or just fun. Whatever works for your mindset. Then, on Friday, send out a post along the lines of this:

These guys are great! @WineIntro @RomanceClass @PermaFreeBooks @LisaSheaAuthor #FollowFriday

The idea is that you're giving a personal recommendation to your followers that these accounts are worth taking a look at. Your followers then give those accounts and try and perhaps follow them themselves. They feel happy that you've shared such useful accounts and now you have gained credit in their eyes as well.

Be cautious about just tweeting out every single account you've come into contact with in that list. Remember, these are personal recommendations by you. If you tweet an account for a feed that doesn't have good quality posts, however you define that, then it will reflect on you.

It can be tempting for new Tweeters to make their feed all about ME-ME-ME. But Twitter shines when it becomes a conversation. The more you retweet others, the more likely they are to retweet you. And the more that you retweet in your account, the more that others are likely to retweet you because they see you as a participant in that larger conversation.

You don't have to stare at Twitter all day long retweeting everything that comes past your screen. Just pop in occasionally and look at whatever your followers are saying or a hashtag stream you follow. See something interesting in there? Hit RETWEET and send it out. That's all there is to it. Quick, easy, fun, and it builds up your stream's power.

Multiple Tweets of the Same Information
This gets into a sensitive area, so use this cautiously. Here's the gist of the idea. If I am a Twitter user and I am online from 8-4, then that's fine. But it means that anybody who tweeted something fascinating at 6pm will probably never be seen by me. By the time I log onto my computer again at 8am the next morning, that tweet is buried deep beneath everything else that came after it.

The solution some Tweeters take is to retweet their post a few times during the day, to help account for this. They might post it once at 8am. Then another time at 2pm. Then yet again at 10pm. Since they're just cutting and pasting the exact same post it takes only seconds to do - and it can greatly expand the reach of that post.

Again, the key is to be careful in doing this. Yes, some readers only pop online occasionally and they'll be grateful you made a fresh post. But others who are online all day will start to get annoyed if you make the exact same post every hour on the hour. At some point they'll block you.

So find that balance for your readers. Consider reposting important information a few times across a day, to reach different readers. But don't post it every single minute of every single hour.

Try to Stay Within One Post
Some Tweeters try to use Twitter like a typewriter with a carriage return. They type out long, complicated messages and just hit RETURN every time they hit the 140 character limit. This might work all right if that account was the only one on Twitter - but it's not. Most people read Twitter as a stream of multiple followers. Meaning those messages from Account A are all mixed in with messages from accounts B, C, D, E, F, and G. The result is that account A's diatribe turns into mush.

I know that 140 characters seems really short at first, especially when you consider that some of those are used up by hashtags. But think in terms of haiku. Think short, sweet, and powerful. If you need to say something longer, post the long content to your blog and then link to it from Twitter. There are different tools for different uses. Blogs are great for longer content. Twitter is designed for short dewdrops of information which can be absorbed at a glance. Use it in that way and you'll get the most traction from it.

@ Mentions in Tweets
This can get a little confusing.

Let's say I make a tweet from my WineIntro account that says

I had a great Kung Fu Girl riesling this afternoon with my salad. What are you drinking? #WineWednesday

Let's say WineLover reads that and tweets:

@WineIntro That riesling is awesome! I'm drinking some Velvet Devil merlot.

I get a special notice of that tweet because I am directly mentioned in it. That's good, because it helps me to manage people asking me questions or talking to me. It's important to note that, because WineLover used an @ name in their post, that the ONLY people who will see that post are him, me, and people who happen to follow BOTH of us.

So if I then tweet with:

@WineLover Velvet Devil merlot is delicious! I'll have some later with some black forest cake.

My message is only seen by him, me, and any fans who follow us both.

What this means is, if you want a post to be seen by the whole world, that you shouldn't tag it with just one person's name. If I were to try to make a press release along the lines of

@BostonGlobe All are welcome! The BVAA is having a wonderful art show today from 5-7pm on Worcester Common. Bring the family! #ArtNews

I'm not telling the entire world about this event despite my use of the hashtag and the post on my Twitter feed. This is ONLY going to be seen by the BostonGlobe account and by people who happen to follow both them and me. So I would want to make TWO posts in this case. One to get the attention of the Boston Globe, to hopefully prod them into retweeting the event news. And then a second one geared toward my general audience to make sure every follower sees it.

Twitter Next Step

It's a good idea to always reply when someone mentions you, if only to say thanks. That reply won't clutter up your main feed because only people who are following the both of you will see it. It makes the person feel nice, that you noticed what they said.

I'd love to hear your other thoughts on using Twitter!

Lisa Shea, owner


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