How To Get Better at Twitter

If you know me, you probably know I love Twitter.

I signed up (under protest, because I thought it was uncool) back in 2008 when my now husband did...because I am a follower.

But over the past few years, I’ve come to use it...A LOT.

With more than 21,000 tweets sent (gawd), I think it’s official that I am *very into it.*

So I was excited when one of the questions I was recently asked to address in this newsletter was: How do I get better at using Twitter?

Now, I’m no expert. I’m just a girl, writing tweets, asking you to love her.

But my tweeting has led to some cool opportunities:

  • It’s helped me get a foot in the door with new writing gigs

  • It’s linked me up with editors at publications I want to write for

  • It’s helped me meet fellow writers who have become my internet (and real-life!) friends

So here is my best advice for getting the most out of the Twitterverse.

1. Be selective about your follows

Every time you follow a new person on Twitter you have more content to sort through in your feed (unless you actively mute people...but...then...why even follow them at all?)

Be selective about the people you follow so that the time you spend on the platform is with people you enjoy interacting with and seeing content from (rather than having a feed full of junk and noise.) As you look for new people to follow, seek out your peers, clients, people you want to work with, and authorities in your niche.

I also go through my follows every few months and unfollow accounts that haven’t tweeted in the past few weeks, that I don’t regularly interact with, or that just aren’t relevant to my interests anymore. This helps keep my feed fresh, interesting, and more engaging.

2. Be deliberate about participation and interaction

It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and not participate when it comes to Twitter. You could spend hours a day consuming and reading content, but never once sharing a tweet of your own.

But remember: It’s called social media. That means you need to be deliberate about interacting with people and participating in the conversations happening there.

Lots of people struggle with this because they overthink their tweets or worry that they don’t have anything relevant or interesting to say. But in overcoming this self-doubt, you open the door to relationship-building and conversations that you probably wouldn’t have been able to have had anywhere else. (In fact, it’s how I landed a gig writing for Entrepreneur, which I talked about here.)

If you’re not sure what to tweet about, here are a few ideas:

  • Share observations about the work you do or trends you’re noticing within your niche

  • Give a behind-the-scenes look at your life/day job

  • Comment on and share an interesting article/podcast/documentary you enjoyed recently

  • Respond to other peoples’ questions/comments/shares when you have a helpful or interesting perspective to add

  • Talk about your ideas or upcoming projects and why they’re exciting

  • Share wins within your personal life or career that you want to celebrate (just don’t get all braggy)

3. Use your time wisely

For me, Twitter is my virtual watercooler. I use it as a place to chat with people throughout the day when I’m taking a break from writing. But if Twitter seems like a massive time suck to you, there are some ways you can be more strategic about the time you invest there.

Use lists: If there are certain people you know you want to talk to or build relationships with on Twitter, create a list and peruse that curated feed rather than sorting through the posts from everyone you follow.

Adjust your timeline: I love the the ‘top tweets’ timeline because it helps me catch up on relevant content from people I regularly interact with on Twitter. Your can disable this feature and have a chronological feed, but I actually like the algorithm for this and find it useful.

4. Don’t spam or stalk people

Keep some healthy boundaries around your interactions on Twitter, as no one enjoys the person who is constantly liking/responding/retweeting them. It’s creepy (and easy to see through.)

In my experience, the people who do this want something from the person they’re excessively interacting with, and when that ask/pitch finally comes, it’s always a hard pass.

Instead, interact genuinely and think about how you’d want a face-to-face conversation to go with the person you’re talking to via Twitter. That should be your guide. When we get too comfortable behind the anonymity of our computer screens, it can lend itself to doing/saying things we wouldn’t ever do in real life--so keep yourself in check with that mental model.

5. Be consistent

If you’re going to use Twitter, be consistent about it, as this will help you gain traction over time.

If you disappear for a few weeks, people may think that you’re not using your account anymore and unfollow you--and it also makes it harder for you to jump back into conversations.

That doesn’t mean you need to be checking in on Twitter all time time, it just means it’s wise to have some sort of consistency around your usage. If it’s just 15 minutes a day, that’s fine! You don’t have to be a power user to find value in it (how ever you define that.)

6. Ditch the scheduled content (unless it’s working for you)

In my experience, scheduled content doesn’t perform all that well on Twitter. It’s obvious that it’s scheduled (usually because of a shortened link from a scheduling tool) and it feels a little marketery/salesy. Plus, it means you’re probably not around to respond to anyone in real time if they want to ask a question or comment on it.

If you have a post or podcast you’re proud of, share it in real time with a bit of commentary rather than blasting it out over and over via a scheduling tool. It feels more authentic when it’s shared by you directly.

That said, I know some people find scheduling content works well for them, so--as always, the real answer is IT DEPENDS. Look at the numbers and let them tell you whether or not people engage with your scheduled content.

7. Remember: It’s a cocktail party, not a private conversation

One of the best tips I ever got about social media as a PR person was to remember that it’s a cocktail party--a public setting where other people are watching what you say and do. Even though sometimes it feels like we’re having a private back-and-forth with other people, you have to keep in mind that what you post on Twitter is very much out in the open.

Plus: Deleting a Tweet doesn’t make it disappear. With screenshotting and tools like WayBackMachine, anything you post on Twitter can be dug up.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution when talking about things that may be misconstrued or misinterpreted (or that could incite conflict) on Twitter--and that’s why I keep my conversations and content pretty mild.

Tweets, as silly or flippant as they may seem, have ripple effects and aren’t something you can take back--so as a rule of thumb, ask yourself if your grandma would be embarrassed to read something before you tweet it.

The bottom line: Twitter can be a great tool for staying connected, for networking, and for opening doors to new opportunities if you really lean into it. That said: If it's not working for you or you're just not into it--that's okay! Maybe a different platform is a better fit for you. Don't force it.

If you're on Twitter, say hello and tweet me @kaleighf.

This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy. Sign up and get these free tips sent right to your inbox every other Wednesday.