What does it take to generate a strong Twitter influence? I could create a list of things that would amount to what it takes to become successful in Twitter and, as a whole, social media. A general list would contain items such as adding followers, following them back, engaging them in conversation without selling to them, and so forth. I have come across many of these social media “primers” and most of them are a summary of each others’ articles with slightly different perspectives. Overall, the primers summarize what has worked on Twitter and social media.
My case study on Twitter Influence takes a different approach. I will discuss two prominent, highly followed, highly listed and highly influential users on Twitter: @TweetSmarter and @tonystevens4. While each of them applies the basic principles of social media and social networking, they have distinct ways of doing so. I will present my findings from what I have learned by following them for quite some time as well as example tweets that justify my findings.
I would describe TweetSmarter as a reliable source of information for topics ranging from Twitter, social media, and tech news, among other topics. The manner in which they are a source of information is intriguing, to say the least, but also painstaking and selective, thereby contributing to their trustworthiness. They are also responsive to people who have questions and concerns about Twitter.
What they do
- They scour social media and tech websites as well as tweets linking to noteworthy articles.
- If they find an article from a website, they produce a shortcut link through j.mp, which is run by bit.ly, and tweet the article to their followers.
- If they find an article from a tweet, they click through the original shortcut link for it, produce a shortcut link for the original URL of the article via j.mp, and retweet the article to their followers. Almost all of the time, they remove the user or users of the original (re)tweet so that the headline and link stand out. This move also helps them retain their position as an information source despite the authorship of the articles.
On an aside, creating their own shortcut links for all of their tweets allows them to track them all. Data is king, especially for Twitter analytics.
Why this is significant
TweetSmarter does not tweet links haphazardly. They make sure that each article is reflective of the type and quality of information they set out to provide their followers. In a sense, they do retweet articles, but gradually and selectively. Following TweetSmarter would create much added value to your knowledge about Twitter and social media.
Here is a sample of the tweets they post:
- Latest Facebook Gift Card Scam Nabs 37,000 Victims In One Day: http://j.mp/9HC20B
- Demand for Social Media, Mobile Development Skills Soaring: Report http://j.mp/9Elrrc
- Twitter etiquette: the rules http://j.mp/cmnnns
As you can see, their tweets use the shortcut link, j.mp, and are geared especially towards social media, but not exclusively. They post occasional tweets about other topics, and the following tweet illustrates two exceptions at once: the subject matter is decidedly not about social media (but it is a worthy cause), and they retain @zaibatsu, the source of the tweet:
- Stock our 10,000th library w/ books. Each RT gives the library ONE book via @roomtoread #tweet4books /via @zaibatsu
Hundreds of thousands of their followers, including myself, are fully aware of the added value that TweetSmarter provides to our knowledge about social media and are quick to retweet their tweets, seemingly as soon as they send it out. Users like TweetSmarter that do not have to beg their followers to retweet a tweet (e.g. PLS RT) exert a very strong Twitter Influence.
I would describe Tony as a Twitter Power User. He makes it abundantly clear in his bio his purpose for being on Twitter and the subject matters that his Tweets will likely cover. I find Tony to be a rare gem because of this. Other users may have similar content in their bio, but if you go through their tweets, they probably do not discuss anything close to their own bio. Moreover, the bios of these people may reflect what they do in real life but isn’t a topic they readily discuss. In any event, Tony’s tweets are wide-ranging and reflect his interests: Twitter; social media, tech news, photography, and (properly cited) quotes, among others.
What he does
Tony takes a very social approach towards exerting a widespread Twitter Influence. He tweets and retweets content based on his interests, but is very particular about how he does it. For starters, he refuses to use the Retweet link on the Twitter website. However, he is also conscious of the information conveyed in his retweets and makes sure that the tweet takes its original form by moving the retweeting users to the end of the tweet. More importantly, he regularly acknowledges the people who have retweeted before him and turns a cluttered tweet like this:
RT @Flipbooks: RT @paul_steele: RT @IamPramit65: Gorgeous Panoramic Photographs – http://bit.ly/6KuyJD #Photography
Speaking of acknowledgment, Tony also recognizes his followers who retweet his tweets. I have retweeted many of the things he posted not to be on his good graces (although I am) but because his tweets add value to my Twitter and social media experience. Most of the Twitter and social media-related tweets in my bookmarks have come from Tony as well as TweetSmarter.
Tony has taken it upon himself to educate his followers about Twitter and, until recent changes to Twitter’s policy that banned recurring tweets, devoted Thursdays to posting “Twitter Tips”, a series of tweets that explain how to conduct yourself on Twitter as well as how to make the most of your Twitter experience. While he can no longer schedule tweets as before, Tony does promise to post his “Twitter Tips” throughout the week.
Why this is significant
While meeting other people on Twitter and engaging them in conversation, a daily activity for Tony, is the most overt way of making the most of social networking, Tony takes it a step further. He adjusts a retweet so that the multiple users who passed it around are duly and conveniently recognized. After all, one of those users was the first to send out the tweet. At the same time, he recognizes the people who retweet his tweets. Tony serves as a model for successful social networking engagement.
Here is a sample of the tweets he sends out. Notice the format of the first three tweets are as follows: ( title | link | rt (previous retweeters) ):
- 10 Clues to Help Spot a Spammer… http://j.mp/a6eEzM rt @cheth @tashamiel @pramitjnathan @paul_steele @flipbooks
- 10 Reasons to Not Ignore Your Twitterfeed – http://smedio.com/1132 rt @JayAdams @smedio @AskAaronLee
- 65 Gorgeous Panoramic Photographs – http://bit.ly/6KuyJD #Photography rt @Flipbooks @paul_steele @IamPramit
- “The will must be stronger than the skill.” Muhammed Ali #quote
- Be a source of information.
- Retweet sources of information.
- Make the topics or subject matters you will likely tweet about very clear, and tweet consistently about them.
- Engage your followers, and they will return the favor.
- Recognize the followers who retweet your tweets.