For many, Twitter has become a useful tool for increasing the scope and impact of their work. For others, it can be something of a mystery, with users feeling clueless as to how they might transition from one of the followers to one of the followed. Here are tips on how to maximize your Twitter influence without turning into a spambot, from computer scientist Randal Olson:
1. Make sure you know what influence means, because you probably don’t understand it
What’s the end goal on Twitter? To get people interacting with your tweets: Favoriting, retweeting, and replying. If the online influence measurement tool Klout, which crunches data on how many people interact with you on social sites like Twitter, has taught us anything, it’s this: Influence in real life doesn’t translate directly into influence on any social media, let alone Twitter. If you can get more people retweeting you than Bill Gates does, you’re better at Twitter. End of story. So grit your teeth, get intimate with your Klout score, and figure out what tweets have really made it spike.
2. Become an expert in something trendy
Find something you care about that already has a hashtag attached to it (an active one) and start speaking your mind. That puts you on the screens of people likely to care about what you’re saying. And remember, Olson writes on his blog, that no one cares what you ate for breakfast. Save that for when you’re a Twitter celebrity. And for goodness sake, make sure you’re writing well.
3. Follow, follow, follow
“Followers are the currency of Twitter,” Olson writes, and he’s spot on. The more people you have following you, the faster you’ll get more followers—and the more people you’ll have interacting with you, sharing your tweets with their own followers. But don’t use a service that lets you buy a bunch of bot followers: They won’t give you the interaction you need to grow further. Follow likeminded Twitter users, and feel free to unfollow them if they don’t follow you back within a few days. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with following a big influencer just to benefit from their point of view on the topics you care about. Olson has a free script you can use to mass follow and unfollow based on interests, and whether or not you’re followed back.
4. Find great content
Populate your Twitter feed with at least two to three great links a day. If you have trouble finding interesting things to share, check out social news web sites like reddit and digg for inspiration. Perusing the Quartz Daily Brief isn’t a bad idea, either.
5. Play favorites
Favorite tweets by people you’re hoping to get some interaction with: It offers the nudge of a retweet without diluting the voice of your feed with someone else’s. Olson recommends his free Python script to automatically favorite tweets under your hashtag of choice, but keep in mind that hashtags can be quickly co-opted by internet trolls, and that your favorites are visible to anyone who goes looking for them. So if you want to be sure you’re not going to favorite something deplorable, stick to doing it manually.