Online training for ambitious entrepreneurs

How I use Twitter

Some time ago I added a page to this site titled “How I use Twitter,” writes Robert Clay of Marketing Wizdom. There is a link to that page from my Twitter profile, and it explains … how I use Twitter!

Although that page can’t be reached via the site navigation, it turned out to be very popular. People kept telling me how much they’d learned from it, and quite a few said that they’d like to see it as a post so that they can add their comments.

This post, then, is the content of that page, in a modified form. It explains how I use Twitter, what you can expect from my tweets, how I share content and who and how I follow. I do hope you find it useful.

How I use Twitter

I use Twitter as a news source, to add to my knowledge, to maintain cutting edge awareness in my area of expertise and to discover, learn from and engage with people globally who share similar interests. I also use Twitter as a publishing tool to share knowledge and information I come across which I believe will be useful to any aspiring market leader, entrepreneur, or anyone involved in running or marketing a business.

I have many rich interactions on Twitter and, time permitting, try to respond in person to everyone who interacts with me. I do not and have never used automated responses.

I nearly always follow and engage with people on Twitter using my phone because I find it a lot more convenient than using a desktop browser or application. The applications I use are Tweetbot or Hootsuite for the iPhone. Tweetbot is amazing for just about everything, but Hootsuite is also excellent and has a few nifty tricks up it’s sleeve. When I do use a desktop or laptop computer I rarely use the Twitter web interface, as good as it is these days. Instead I use Hootsuite, which allows me to accomplish a lot more in less time.

Tweet topics:

  • I mainly tweet about entrepreneurship, business and marketing strategy (including social media), trends and technology. These things interest me and are also at the heart of what I do
  • I occasionally tweet about cars, travel, economics, scientific breakthroughs, or current affairs
  • I regularly share tips and “words of wizdom”
  • I tweet links to my new and past blog posts
  • I often share links that may be of interest
  • I reweet useful or interesting things that others have tweeted

I try to keep abreast of all the latest thinking in and around my areas of interest via Twitter and RSS feeds, both of which allow me to scan all the incoming headlines for the topics I follow, and dive in deeper if anything catches my eye. This allows me to assimilate all the latest thinking in just a couple of places on the web, with no redundancy or having to wade through endless articles that of little or no interest or hop from site to site. A by product of this is that I am constantly finding good articles to share with people who follow me.

Much of the content I share daily on Twitter is planned in advance and, time permitting, I also share other content spontaneously as I come across it or think about it. I am always on the lookout for good content to share. Some days I tweet more than others depending on what I’m doing and where I am. My main aims are to add value to your day; share the best content I can find or create around my main topics; create conversations; and build productive relationships.

How I plan my content sharing

A lot of people thank me for the value of the content I curate and share on Twitter every day. Knowing that I plan my content sharing in advance, a lot of people also ask me how I do that. So here goes …

Basically I have concentrated bursts of activity most days when I catch up with what is going on in the world in my areas of interest using Twitter and RSS feeds in Google Reader. If I find good content and don’t have time to read it immediately, I bookmark it using Instapaper (http://www.instapaper.com), which means that I can access it later from either my computer or phone. If you don’t use Instapaper, do look into it. It is extremely useful.

Once I decide to share particular content I determine whether it is only of current interest, e.g. contains interesting statistics or a story that will quickly go out of date, or whether it has enduring value and is thus likely to still be of interest months, or even years down the road.

If I determine that the content will quickly go out of date I either create a tweet and share it there and then from my browser toolbar using the Hootlet bookmarklet (part of Hootsuite, http://www.hootsuite.com), or via whatever app I’m using on my phone to browse that content. Note: When I create a tweet I ALWAYS attribute content to it’s creator or publisher.

Because I have intense periods of activity when I do a lot of catching up in a short period of time, there is a danger that I could flood people’s Twitter timelines with, say, 20 tweets in as many minutes. I don’t like to do that, so I schedule the tweets using Buffer (http://www.bufferapp.com). Buffer is a wonderful tool that allows you to spread your tweets throughout the day which for me means that I can spend a few minutes catching up with what is happening in the world, identify maybe 10-20 articles I’d like to share, add them to my Buffer, then get on with my day knowing that they will be shared according to the predetermined schedule I’ve set up.

If I find good pieces that offer enduring value, I might well add them to buffer, but in that case I also copy the tweet into a text document, so that I can share it again at, say, 3-monthly intervals. I do this because people are active on Twitter at different times and for different lengths of time. Unless they only follow a handful of people, they simply won’t see everything that appears in their timeline. If people miss a really good article, they may never get the chance to see it again. But if I repeat it a few months later, there’s a chance they will see it when that comes around again. And even if a few of the people logged on at that time have seen it before, most people will be seeing it for the first time.

My Follow policy

Although based in the UK I’ve built businesses globally, travelled extensively, have good knowledge of the world and interact with people wherever they are (mainly in English but often in other languages including bad Spanish, Portugese, Dutch, French and German). I’m always looking for interesting people to follow. Having said that, I follow selectively and do not automatically follow back just because someone follows me.

I’ve found that people come and go constantly on Twitter for any number of reasons so I never spend any time checking or obsessing over who is or isn’t following me. Life is far too short for that and there are better things to do. Because I don’t keep track of who follows me, I’m often pleasantly surprised when I discover that people I hold in very high esteem are following me.

If I’m following you it could be because:

  • I know you personally
  • You’re one of my current or past clients
  • You’re a thought leader in business, marketing, technology or entrepreneurship
  • You’re an emerging market leader in your field
  • You’re an industry trendsetter
  • You write interesting or insightful blogs, articles or books
  • You share interesting links
  • Something you’ve tweeted has attracted my attention
  • Your Twitter bio looks interesting
  • You tweet about topics that interest me
  • You engage with me regularly
  • You stimulate me; amuse me or in some way add value to my day

How I follow

It’s hard enough to keep up with 1-200 people who have interesting things to say. And it’s impossible to keep up with everything that 70,000 followers say, so I don’t even try. Instead I use Twitter lists (an indispensable tool) to group together people, organisations, or media that tweet about topics that particularly interest me. I can then follow everyone on those lists in a much more focused and time-efficient manner.

This approach tames Twitter and delivers a very rich and useful experience with none of the spam, irrelevance or noise that clutters up so many Twitter streams … It also gives me time to contribute to my Twitter followers; keep abreast of what’s going on in the world; write books (I’ve written 8 sizeable books in the past 18 months and have a bunch more in the pipeline); run my business; and yes, have a life as well.

If you tweet on topics that interest me; share interesting links; engage with me; or I particularly like you or what you say or do I may well add you to one of my lists, whether I actually “follow” you or not. Using Twitter lists means that I don’t actually need to “follow” you to follow your tweets or interact with you. In fact I have never actually “followed” some of the people I follow most closely and interact with most frequently.

How I deal with spammers

I have zero tolerance for spam, so if you spam me, I will report and block you. Spam, by the way, includes uninvited DMs along the lines of “My Godfather will make you an offer you cannot refuse …” pushing any brand of religion or politics, and any MLM or get rich quick solicitations.

Finally …

It has taken a long time to figure out how to use Twitter effectively, and that is reflected in this article. The way I use Twitter continues to evolve as I work out better ways of doing this or that, or I discover better tools, or new tool become available.

If you like what I’ve said here, please follow me on Twitter and say hello when you get a chance. I look forward to interacting with you and adding something to your Twitter experience.

I hope this post has been helpful for you. I would love to hear your thoughts, feedback and personal experiences, as there are many different ways of approaching Twitter. So if you have anything to add to the post, or would like to give illustrative examples or elaborate further on any of the points I’ve touched on here, please comment below. I welcome anything you can contribute to the discussion.

Please share your thoughts and add your questions to the comments below. I’ll try to provide as many answers as possible in my future online videos, seminars, workshops, masterclasses and blog posts.

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