Twitter 101 for #SaveSweetBriar

I’ve created a 2:30-minute video that covers most of what I’m talking about in this post. The FAQ section below is a little bit more detailed and a deeper dive for those interested in learning more.  If you’re having trouble with the embedded link – the youtube video is located here.

 First Impressions – Your Profile

I know many of you are brand new on Twitter, but many of the people who you are trying to engage with are not. There are certain things that the usual twitter user will glance at to see whether they want to follow you back or not. Most of the things I’m mentioning here will distinguish you from a spambot.  Here are a few of them:

  • You are not an egg. Please upload an image of some sort.
  • Please list other passions and interests beyond SBC. This is how you will reach out to others.
  • Check to see if you have a good mixture of tweets and retweets about your various areas of interest – show potential new friends that they will get something interesting out of following you
  • Maybe on the outside, 1 in 5 Tweets on your main page should be about Sweet Briar. If you want, you can “pin” a favorite, key tweet to the top of your stream, so that one thought doesn’t get buried in the noise.

Finding People to Follow / Getting Followbacks

Now that you’ve got your first impression ready to go, it’s time to find people who are passionate about the same things you are.   Remember, you want to follow other users in order to be seen and followed back by people who are interested in the same stuff as you are.

One way is to do a search for certain keywords and see who pops up. You have up to 2000 follows before Twitter tells you to stop, so you don’t have to be choosy at first.

But here’s a trick.

Find a celebrity or publication that you are a fan of. Follow them, but don’t worry about them following you back. Now, on their profile page, all the way to the right of the links just under their banner photo, there’s a link that says “lists” – click on that.  There are 2 “tabs” that appear there. Start with “Member of” – these are all the lists that this celebrity has been added to.  Check out the descriptions, and what I recommend doing is following the person who created the list, rather than the list itself.  Find this by looking at the name of the list, and the tiny text beside it “by A_K_Anderson”. Click on that name. This is your new friend.   Follow them, then up with this follow with a friendly, chatty @-message that says “Hey, great list of equestrian superstars who look like kittens!” Or something that explains to them why you followed them and noting your similar interests.

As effective, but a tad creepy is finding a user like that and going through their list of followers to see who to chat up.  It works, but do it sparingly.

Tweet Formats and Best Practices

Most of y’all are already doing a great job with @-replies and retweets. Those are essential tools in the Twitter toolbox. KEEP DOING THAT – in fact – start retweeting other stuff that matches your passions, instead of just SBC stuff. Retweeting a person’s tweets is a great way to inspire a followback!

Now, lets talk about creating tweets about #SaveSweetBriar that resonate and get carried outside of our little circle.  Some marketing facts:

  • Tweeters who share a high number of a variety of interesting links, get more retweets.
  • Short, data-driven tweets have the single highest retweet ratio above all other formats. Particularly tweets that a) include factual, specific data and b) tell their whole story in 140 characters.   So something like  “Princeton review twice gave Sweet Briar a top-rating of 99. Please RT #SaveSweetBriar” has more punch and staying power than most other formats.
  • Calls to action work (see the Please RT above?)
  • Include one beautiful, compelling image in your tweet for more retweets. We have scads of gorgeous shots at our disposal. Tweet one at a time (not 4 at a time) and give it a compelling caption, one hashtag and a complete story.

Things are more retweetable if they form a complete, compelling chunk of information in a single tweet. Try to make each of your tweets and retweets tell a complete story.

(For example, people retweeted me thanking a celebrity who shared our hashtag. this creates noise in the celeb’s feed, and it doesn’t add anything to the conversation your followers are having.)

Hashtags have diminishing returns.

Tests repeatedly show that the more hashtags you use in a tweet the less likely people are to click on it, read it, interact with it or retweet it.  I always imagine that each hashtag is a foot-stomp. So if you have too many, I’m imagining you jumping up and down!

The other thing I’d like to throw out there to the gang is that we need to pick the shortest, most used, and most storytelling hashtag and only use that one. Were spreading out our twitter love by using “savesweetbriarcollege” < and that tag adds 7 precious characters.  and #thinkisforgirls doesn’t make sense without context of the ad campaign.  If we really want to expand reach, we need to get the word out that users should only tweet with the hashtag #SaveSweetBriar – and stop with the others.

A final note on hashtags. It’s totally legitimate to join a hashtag conversation and actually chat and mingle with new people who share a common interest.  It’s absolutely not okay to hijack someone else’s conversational hashtag to insert your own cause.  You will get eyeballed as a spammer.

The Anatomy of a Tweet

Some of the newest Twitter users asked me some questions about how to find out how many retweets something got – here’s a map of a tweet:

guide to parts of a tweet

To pin a tweet to the top of your page, use the three dots that say “more” – where I’ve labeled “delete!” in the sketch.  One of the options is to “pin this tweet”, and it will do just that. (That’s also where the “unpin” option appears.) and yes, that’s where you can delete a tweet.

The bottom line

Be social and friendly, get to know new people. They will want to support our cause because they like us, not because we’ve smacked it over their head like a wet pool noodle. Above all, have fun!

(And I’m always at @A_K_Anderson if you have any questions!)

Further reading

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