Twitter is awash with PR students, with their happy-go-lucky ‘wow, I’m such a PR star’ profile pictures and acronym-laden tweets. OMFG, that’s probably part of the reason nobody but other people in their year on their course follows them. Unless they’re attractive, of course, in which case an extra 50 people may follow them based on that.
Now, I’m no guru (mostly because anybody that says they are: isn’t), but if building a profile on Twitter is what you’re after, I think I may be able to help.
Here are my top ten tips to become popular on Twitter, in no particular order:
- Have an opinion
- Follow the right people
- Manually RT
- Stay on message
- Don’t tweet inane crap
a.Don’t tweet celebrities
- Use a reasonable profile picture
- Don’t hound for jobs
- Don’t forget about the journalists
- Don’t forget about the stats
- Give other people the opportunity to RT you
I’ll go through each.
1. If all you do is retweet others’ tweets, you may as well stop wasting your time. People want to follow YOU, not the person you’re most influenced by. If they wanted to keep reading their tweets, chances are, they’d follow them and cut you out. Which is probably what they’re doing.
2. The number – and the quality – of people you follow will affect how you use Twitter. Follow too many, and you’ll potentially miss out on some great stuff. Finding the right people – essentially, PR/media/digital/marketing types – can be tough, but there are a number of services online, such as WeFollow.com, that can help narrow it down. Once you are following some of the more prominent users in your field, you’ll see from the people they follow, @ and retweet who you may be interested in following too. A great resource to find UK-based PRs to follow is here on UKMediaTweeple.
3. If you use Twitter’s automatic retweet feature, you’re missing a trick. People appreciate the effort you go to when you manually retweet – and it gives you the opportunity to add your voice to their tweet, to ensure you’re not just parroting them (as per point 1).
4. If there’s one point I’d make to people looking to build more of a presence on Twitter, it’s this: the vast majority of your tweets should be related to your beat. Unless you’re famous/an ex-reality TV show contestant, the only way you can hope to gain relevant followers is by tweeting about and to people within your chosen interest field/s. You don’t want to come across like the ‘social butterflies’ that you see at parties, trying to make themselves relevant in any and all scenarios. After a while, you realise that they’re just desperate for people to like them and will talk about anything and with anyone simply to look popular. I work in PR, and as such, keep my tweets media and marketing-related.
5. If you tweet about friends that your followers won’t know, or bang on about the latest oh-so-hilarious incident to happen in the amazingly fascinating life you lead, you’re annoying people. Keep that crap for Facebook, where people are your ‘friends’ because they apparently have an interest in what you get up to in your personal life. The general public really don’t care that Gemma just laughed so hard she snorted and shot vodka across the room.
5a. Oh, and whilst I’m at it talking about it, unless you know them, don’t tweet celebrities. It makes you look desperate to be popular (see point 4). All you’re doing is massaging their fragile but massive egos, whilst making yourself look needy. Like geeks in American films do when they try to talk to the head cheerleader.
6. Profile pictures mean a lot in Twitter. If you’re using it with a view to increasing your public profile, potentially within the PR industry, why-oh-why do you think people want to see you in your best ‘I’m mad, me!!!’ pose? Keep it professional-ish, and professional-ish people will follow you back.
7. Please don’t ask people to hire you over Twitter, in your bio, or on your blog that you plug on Twitter. Unless you’re doing it in a clever way, it’s sadder than Lucy on Take Me Out’s pulling efforts.
8. 8. Thousands of journalists are on Twitter. Using great resources like this on our 10 Yetis blog (top 100 journalists on Twitter), this on Fleet Street Blues and this by Ste Davies, you can find them, and just by following and engaging in a normal, non-threatening, non-stalkerish way, you could start building media contacts that could be invaluable when it comes to interview time
9. Stats aren’t the be-all and end-all, but they’re definitely important. If you tweet something and your followers clearly like it – having retweeted it, @-d you about it or favourite-d it – remember that and tweet similar things in the future. If you gain or lose a significant number of followers at any time, chances are, there’s a reason. Your following/follower ratio is also important, in my view. If you follow too many people compared to the amount that follow you back, you’ll look like a spam account. Twitter isn’t a race to followers, so be choosy about who you follow.
10. A retweet is like a Twitter backpat that your followers give you to thank you for finding something interesting/funny/unusual enough to post, whilst also wishing to share it with their followers. These followers could be your followers, and as such you want to do what you can to get your tweets retweeted. A tip I always give to people is to ensure that you’re leaving enough space for people to retweet manually and potentially give their opinion too; so when writing a tweet, be mindful of this. Leaving 20+ characters is normally just about enough for the ‘RT @<youraccountname>’ characters they’ll need to type out.
So, there you have it. This is by no means the definitive guide, but I’d like to think the tips could help people at any stage get the best out of Twitter – especially PR students. I hope it’s of use.