Become a Social Media Ninja With These 25 Smart Twitter Hacks
Updated May 2019
I love Twitter.
It’s one of my favorite places on the Internet, and one of the few sites I visit more than once a day.
I’ve been a Twitter user since 2009 and in a decade of tweeting, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to get the most from the platform.
Learning Twitter is like anything else in life. The more you use it, the more you learn, and the better you get at using it. But you don’t have to spend years learning how to become a Twitter Ninja. Today I am going to share with you some of my best hacks to shortcut your journey to Twitter success.
1. Use Keywords In Your Bio
Content posted on Twitter is indexed by Google, so it makes sense to use industry keywords in your bio and in your tweets. Alongside your profile picture, your bio is usually the first thing people see when deciding whether to follow you on Twitter. The strongest Twitter bios usually contain industry targeted keywords. Think about things that people would search for to find you — a good tip is to look at other people in your field and their accounts to see what keywords they’re using.
2. Optimize Your Profile Picture
People are highly visual, and the first thing we notice in a Twitter profile is the picture and the bio. Make sure to use a quality photograph that portrays you in a professional manner. Profile images should be square shaped and at least 400 x 400 pixels in size. Most profile images are now mainly viewed on mobile devices. This means that the image itself has to be recognizable in smaller dimensions than it appears on a desktop or laptop screen. These smaller images are known as ‘thumbnails’. For your image to work as a thumbnail, your face must predominate in the original image. Think of framing your picture around your head and shoulders.
Insider Tip! Don’t miss the opportunity to use your cover image to tell the bigger story of what you are passionate about or to promote any upcoming events. Twitter header image size is 1500 x 500 pixels. Canva has a built-in option for creating a Twitter background (and for other social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn).
3. Borrow Headline Hacks
No matter how amazing your content is, few people are going to click through to read it if they’re not immediately captivated by your headline. Share the value your readers will get if they continue to read your blog post. “One way to think about this”, according to CoSchedule “is with the classic marketing technique, WIIFM, otherwise known as what’s in it for me?”
Research by CoSchedule also found that content with emotional value gets shared significantly more than content that contains little emotional value. Emotion is a key driver for making people click and share your content, with positive emotions driving more clicks and shares than negative or neutral content. If you want to test this theory for yourself, plug your headline into the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Headline Analyzer. This is a free tool from the Advanced Marketing Institute that you can use to calculate the EMV of your own headlines.
Read Write Better Headlines With These 9 Winning Formulas for more headline hacks.
4. Create Twitter Threads
A thread on Twitter is a series of connected Tweets from one person. With a thread, you can provide additional context, an update, or an extended point by connecting multiple tweets together. When used well, threads are a powerful way to illustrate a larger point.
5. Add Power Words To Your Tweets
All words are not created equal. Although I’m no fan of hyped-up phrases, the judicious use of power words in your headline will grab a reader’s attention fast. A key component of power word strategy is avoiding the passive voice in your tweets. Instead use strong action-oriented words and verbs, like create, make, build.
6. Use Hashtags Strategically
Using relevant hashtags is a great way to maximize the chances of your tweets getting discovered by a wider audience. Use hashtags to identify real-time opportunities for engagement in news and events, current trends and key influencers. You can find trending hashtags with tools like Twitonomy, Hashtagify.me and RiteTag.
RiteTag is a useful Chrome extension which gives you instant feedback on your hashtag choices as you type them. It checks the hashtags you begin typing in real-time and color codes them:
- If your hashtag is green, it means the hashtag will help your content be seen now.
- If your hashtag is blue, it means the hashtag will help your content be seen over time.
- If your hashtag is gray, you should select a new hashtag because it has low levels of engagement.
- If your hashtag is red, you should select a new hashtag because it’s so popular, your content will disappear into the crowd.
More hashtag research tools to try include:
Insider Tip! Don’t over-use hashtags on Twitter. Research shows that tweets with more than two hashtags actually see a drop in engagement.
7. Make It Personal
Personalize your tweets. Adding a “You” or “Yours” makes your tweet more effective since it speaks to your readers’ concerns and sounds more conversational. It’s important to use the words and language your audience actually uses. If you’re not sure what that language is, use Twitter as a listening tool to find out.
8. Shorten Your URL Links With Bit.ly
A URL shortener is an online tool that converts a regular URL into an abbreviated version that is around 10 to 20 characters long. Use a third-party tool like Bit.ly to help you do this. Here’s what a bit.ly link looks like when it’s shortened.
The platform does more than just shorten links. You can use it to to see how your links are performing in real-time, with insights that show you which content or channel is working best for you, including total clicks and top referring social channels.
9. Add Images To Tweets
Adding visual appeal to your tweet is a smart way to make your content stand out among a sea of tweets. According to Buffer, Tweets that include a photo or visual should expect 1.5x more shares.
You can add up to 4 images to your tweets ( all you have to do is click on the photo icon after you have added your first image, then add up to 3 more images) so take advantage of this and create a carousel of images to draw a reader’s eye.
Bonus Tip! Another great idea is to use screenshots to add context to tweets, make them stand out or reiterate a point.
Adding GIFS To Tweets
Twitter has made it very easy to add GIFs by doing all the work for you within the tweet box. All you have to do is choose an appropriate GIF from the drop-down menu or search for a specific genre in the search box.
Photo and GIF attachments do not count towards the character limit in a Tweet. Photos can be up to 5MB; animated GIFs can be up to 5MB on mobile, and up to 15MB on the web.
10. Maintain A Consistent Posting Schedule
You need to post consistently to stay in front of your audience’s eyes and keep growing. On Twitter, the average lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes. This means that the more you post, the more of an opportunity you have to get seen. The one thing to consider though is recent changes to Twitter where they will not publish the exact same content. When you want to share content multiple times you need to come up with different text and images for each update.
11. Build A Tweet Bank
A Tweet Bank is simply a collection of boilerplate tweets that you can pull out and adapt when you need to. Combine it with a social media posting calendar and you will never be short of something to post on Twitter.
For more ideas on how to fill your Twitter bank, read Stuck For What To Post On Twitter? This Might Be The Solution!
12. Retweet Your Own Tweets
Though I’d be wary of over-doing this strategy (from a narcissistic viewpoint) it appears that you can increase your exposure by liking and re-tweeting your own content. This is because Twitter uses Likes and re-tweets as indicators of popularity in the algorithm.
An experiment from Buffer found that retweeting their own tweets generated significantly higher click-through and engagement rates.
13. Use Twitter’s Advanced Search Function
While you can do a simple search from Twitter’s search tab, using Twitter’s Advanced Search function allows you to narrow down your search using parameters such as specific keywords, hashtags, location, and date range.
14. Create Twitter Lists
Want to know one of the best hacks to keep up a steady stream of Twitter content? Curate content from your Twitter lists.
A Twitter list is a list of users that a person has added into a specific group that will generate a feed of content from only those selected accounts. Twitter Lists are essentially filtered timelines and it’s one of the most useful features on the platform.
Each time you follow someone new on Twitter, get into the habit of adding them straight to a List. When your connections start to grow on Twitter, you will find that these Lists are a useful way to organize your network.
Insider Tip! You can find out what public lists you’ve been added to (from your lists page, click on Member of) and use this is a guide to gauge your perceived value on Twitter.
Bonus Tip: Find a key industry source on Twitter and then dig into their lists. To join someone else’s public list, go to their profile and click Lists. Choose what list of theirs you’d like to subscribe to, and click Subscribe. You’ll likely find a goldmine of interesting people to follow and connect with.
15. Share Valuable Content
You are what you tweet. People will want to follow you if they think they will get value from your content. What kind of information is your audience looking for? What problems can you solve for them? Focusing more clearly on your audience will help you create content that will draw more readers to your blog.
Insider Tip! I use Buzzsumo to find inspiration by searching which popular content is most shared right now on social media. These are the topics people want to read about so it’s worth brainstorming ideas around this content.
16. Pin Your Best Content
Use the “Pinned Tweet” function to showcase your most valuable content for new visitors to your Twitter profile. In the past, Twitter typically only allowed viewers to see posts in as a sequential timeline which meant that your most important or relevant content quickly got lost in the fast-moving Twitter stream. To solve this issue Twitter now allows you to “pin” a tweet (i.e. keep it placed at the top of your newsfeed) giving you more editorial control on what a viewer will see first when visiting your page.
17. Take Part In Twitter Chats
As is the case with all social media channels, simply being on Twitter is not enough. Twitter thrives on its community and the more you connect with other followers the more quickly you will grow your own following. Joining a Twitter chat is a super way to connect and engage. When you attend a Twitter chat regularly, people will get to know you and in this way, you can quickly develop your network and grow your followers.
Find a list of Twitter chats at Twubs.
18. Analyze Your Twitter Followers With Followerwonk
Followerwonk — a freemium Twitter audience analysis tool — can help you analyze your Twitter followers and adjust your strategy according to the results. Followerwonk segments followers into a number of psychographic segments: including gender, location, Twitter activity, and more.
19. Post When Your Followers Are Online
The lifespan of a tweet is about 18 minutes. That means you have an 18-minute window to gather the most views on your content. To optimize your Twitter reach, it’s useful to know the best times to post your updates so they reach your audience when they are online. If you search for optimal posting times, you will find many guides online.
You can follow these recommendations as a starting point, but it’s best to do your own testing to see which days and times work best for your own audience. Follwerwonk can help you find out the best times to reach your followers on Twitter.
20. A/B Test Your Tweets
Practice writing multiple versions of your tweets. Then A/B test them by changing some keywords, playing with the structure, etc. to determine which works best for your specific audience.
21. Reshare Your Best Content
To find your best content, check your Twitter analytics which can be accessed from your Twitter profile.
Then use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to share your content at optimal times. The Buffer Browser Extension makes sharing content even quicker and easier. It allows you to open the composer on any web page and add posts right to your Queue, without having to go back to your dashboard. You can get the extension for your browser by heading to this link.
22. Create Twitter Moments
Twitter gives you the ability to create “Moments,” which allows you to curate a series, or gallery, of tweets revolving around a particular theme. Use it to curate highlights from an event, conversation, trending news story, or hashtag.
23. Save Searches
Similar to Lists, Saved Searches let you organize your content, but this time based on a specific topic rather than on specific users. Saved searches work exactly as they sound. You find a topic of interest or relevance, search for it and then save it for future reference.
24. Automate Twitter Activity With IFFTT
I’m not a big fan of automating social media activity but used well, it is a boon to time-pressed social media marketers. The key to making it work is to spend time creating genuine, engaging content, and then maximizing its performance through the strategic use of automation tools.
IFTTT (an acronym for If This, Then That) allows you to sync up multiple apps so that when a certain activity happens, it kicks off a separate activity in another app. I use IFTTT to add my tweets to a Google Spreadsheet to create a Twitter Bank of tweets to draw on.
Pro Tip: Don’t automate direct messages on Twitter when someone new starts to follow you. This canned message practice comes across as impersonal and lazy. If you want to reach out to a new Twitter follower, be sincere about it.
25. Analyze Your Competitors on Twitter
Compare your competitors’ Twitter footprints against your own with a competitor audit. Doing some competitor analysis allows you to benchmark your metrics against others to see how you stack up. While it’s tempting to go straight to vanity metrics such as follower numbers, it will be of more benefit if you skip the quantitative analysis for qualitative.
- What type of content are they creating and how often are they sharing it?
- Which content is performing well?
- Which content is most shared, commented on, etc?
- How have they chosen to use videos and images?
- Which social media influencers are they interacting with?
To Wrap Up
The key to success with social media, as with life, is to work smarter not harder. These tips will help you increase your follower count, reach a wider audience, and boost your engagement on Twitter. Implement these tactics the next time you post on Twitter and watch your engagement rate rocket.
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