Friday, September 11, 2009

More Twitter Tips

Are you following me on Twitter?

A few months ago, I posted a ton of Twitter tips on this blog. That post represented a small fraction of what I know about how to use Twitter most efficiently & effectively. I thought it was time to give up more of my secrets ;) I hope you learn something new!

Color Counts

Take a few minutes to make sure that the color of your tweets and the background for them is easy to read on both desktops & via mobile web access. I look at every new person I follow back and see that maybe 1 in 50 are using a color combination that make it unreadable to read the tweets. It's best to use contrast - i.e. use a dark color on a light background or a light color on a dark background.

Why is this important? Most Twitter users manually follow people back. They want to have a look at the tweets of those they follow. If people have difficulty reading your tweets, it might reduce the likelihood they will return the follow (if that is important to you). There's another reason: often people will go to a user's profile page to catch up with them or because they want to see exchanges they have with other users. Again, why make it more difficult for people to read your tweets than it needs to be?

Your Avatar

Try and avoid changing your avatar unless it is necessary. If you do change it, try and keep a similar look. I made a major change in April with my avatar from a glam-style photo to the one I use now. Six weeks after the change, I was still getting tweets from people who hadn't recognized me. People reading their stream look at avatars more often than names. A major change in your avatar can make it difficult for people to realize it is you.

If you do want to make a major change, make sure it is to something you can be consistent with from that point on or that at least you can be recognizable.

DM Hygiene

If you delete a DM from your sent folder, it will also delete it from the recipient's inbox. Since many Twitter users do not receive text messages or emails of DMs, this means if you delete an unread DM, the recipient will never know you sent it.

Every few weeks I will tweet this as a tip & there are always many long-term Twitter users that aren't aware of this so I thought it was worth adding to my blog :)

Getting Behind In Mentions

If you are away from Twitter for an extended period - let's say vacation or you've been too busy with other things - be aware that if you are using tools that access Twitter via API, there is a limit of 200 mentions that can be retrieved per API call. If you know you were up-to-date with replies the last time you logged on, retrieve your mentions and check the date of the oldest one that shows. If the date/time doesn't coincide with your last tweet, then what you may want to do is use Twitter search. Twitter search also has limits on how many tweets it will show per request. However, if you go to advanced search, you can specify a date range. (This was partially covered in my previous post but I neglected to mention the API limitation.)

Using Twitter Search

Be aware if you are using Twitter search on your own mentions or for some other reason, many tweets do not show up in search. Aside from those that have protected tweets, the tweets of those people who are not appearing in search will not show up. I estimate that in my own case around 1 in 15 mentions do not appear in search.


I strongly recommend you do not use a URL shortener in your bio. If people do not know what they are clicking on, they will often not click. I did a short test with this and found that my click through from bio with a URL shortener vs domain name resulted in less than 50% of the clicks.

Follower Hygiene

For personal reasons, I choose to follow back everyone that follows me. (Although I may start to change this policy soon with new followers.)

I am awful with removing those that unfollow me. I did a few batches of 100-200 a few months ago and have done nothing since. Part of the reason is because with the number of people I follow it is tedious to consider doing manually via the Twitter pages. Also before Twitter changed the page numbers for following/followers, I had blank pages so none of the tools would work on my list. There were many inaccuracies.

Last week, I went to, entered my username and then exported a list of "following" - ie people I was following and who were not following me back. There were almost 2,000. This was way too many to get rid of manually at one time so what I did was this: I added an extra column in that divided the following into followers and then sorted on that column. This let me see right away who was "pumping and dumping" - ie building a following proactively only to dump many/most of them once they were happy with their numbers or for some other reason. I've unfollowed around 500 since then. The rest I'll eventually get to :)

Miscellaneous Tips

  • Don't include a personal url when sending someone an @ reply. It's perceived as spamming. By this I mean tacking on your domain name to a tweet that has nothing to do with your business.
  • Don't tweet everyone new that follows you or that you follow. It's really annoying for your existing followers and you'll likely lose people.
  • If you want to greet new followers, take a minute to look at their bio and tweets to use "something" to start a conversation with. Too much effort? Then why follow people unless you intend on building some kind of relationship or network with them?
  • Create goodwill - if you share something someone else has tweeted, make sure to give attribution to it by using either RT or via. :) See my last tips post for more on retweeting.
  • If you will be away from Twitter from an extended period - whether it is 12 hours, a day or a week, try and make sure your last tweet or two is representative of you. I've noticed huge fluctuations in how many new followers I get based on the tweets I leave up when I am not around.
See you on Twitter!

P.S. If you feel you could benefit from some professional Twitter training, check out my Twitter landing page for what I am currently offering :)

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Hi Sharon,

As always, you have given us an insightful, well written, easy to understand, but most importantly, a common sense approach to twitter.

I too do most things manually, and I think I do this because what you do just makes so much sense.

Thanks again for sharing.