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49+ Ways to Boost Engagement on Twitter

by Team Caffeine · 18 comments

Twitter Following

Around the world, Twitter users share over 400 million tweets per day. A quarter of a billion users log into Twitter every month, and by December 2012, 163 billion tweets had been posted to the side.

Twitter’s open format makes it the most powerful social networking tool for reaching out to other people. As the old adage goes, business is people. Twitter, then, is the ideal social network for doing business.

Even just five years ago, if you wanted to reach out to an influencer in your niche, you had to do a ton of research on Google, then dig around for a phone number or email address, begging favors until you got to the person you needed.

Now, pretty much any influencer is just a tweet away.

Needless to say, Twitter is a must-use tool for brands. If you’ve never tried a social network outside of Facebook, Twitter is the place to start.

In this guide, we’ve put together 49 ways to boost engagement on Twitter. We’ve searched the internet high and low for similar guides, and this is the most comprehensive we’ve come across. Some of our tips are for beginners. Some are for intermediates. And some will be new to even advanced users. We wanted to put together a guide that can be used by anyone to learn something new and extend their Twitter reach.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started boosting your Twitter engagement.

1. Buzz Up Your Bio

Want followers? We live in an age of snap decisions. Just like you, no one has time to waste doing in-depth research on who they follow on Twitter. Instead, we decide as fast as we can, based on the information available. A person’s Twitter bio is one of the first places we look to help us make that decision. Does your bio fizz or flop? Not sure? Ask your followers what they think.

2. Make Your Bio Search-Friendly

Twitter is a network, so most of the time, people will find you through friends-of-friends. That said, some people will come across you with a Twitter search. They’ll search for writers, or plumbers or designers in their area. Have you told Twitter where you live, so people doing local search can find you? Have you injected keywords into your bio, to make it search friendly?

3. Add Your Avatar

Twitter avatars are a must for boosting engagement. Profiles without avatars don’t show up in search, so you’re less likely to be discovered. Also, including a picture of yourself gives followers a sense of who you are, laying the foundations of a trusting friendship.

4. Smile!

Your avatar picture should be a picture of you, smiling. Having your face up creates an immediate emotional connection, and sharing your smile sends out good vibes. We’re not just saying this. Researchers flashed images of smiling faces in front of people for just four milliseconds. This tiny exposure to a smile created a mini emotional high in the person viewing the picture.

Plus, smiling’s good for you. So this one’s a win all round.

5. Tweet to be Retweeted

Retweeting will be the main way your followers engage with you on Twitter, so as far as possible you should aim for retweets. Every retweet puts your brand in front of a wider audience and has the potential to win you new customers. Many of the tips in this guide will teach you how to maximize your retweet rate.

6. Say Hello

Whenever you get a new follower, send them a quick message to say hello and welcome them to your tribe. If you’ve got time, check out their bio and ask them a relevant question. That kicks off the conversation and shows you’re an approachable, friendly person.

7. Reply to People

As far as possible, always be the one to have the last word. Not because you want to win the argument (you shouldn’t be argumentative on Twitter anyway), but because you’re the one who cares enough to always reply. Sounds impossible? Aaron Lee does this, and he’s got close to half a million followers.

8. Tweet Lots

Within reason, the more you tweet, the quicker your follower count will grow. Don’t flood your followers with tweets, but do update your feed regularly. Ideally, you should be tweeting at least four times a day, and up to twice per hour. Research by communications group Ragan found people who posted a concentrated number of tweets in a short time span had 50% higher follower growth compared to those who didn’t.

9. Follow People

Twitter’s a two-way game. If you want people to follow you, you’ve got to follow others. Don’t be a red carpet tweeter. These are the people who can count those they follow on their fingers and toes while expecting everyone to follow them. As Lori says: “Popularity never made you smarter in school, why would it now?”

10. Practice Strategic Following

Just as important as following people is who you follow. Be smart about who you network with on Twitter. That means finding the thought leaders in your industry, and connecting with them. You can find relevant people by searching keywords in Twitter’s advanced search tool. Alternatively, find someone you respect, and check out who they follow. You can’t go far wrong doing that.

11. Ask Closed Questions

Closed questions can only be answered yes, no, or with a single word. They’re questions such as: Do you like chocolate? Are you happy right now? What’s your name? Where do you live?

Because these questions are so easy to answer, they have a higher engagement rate than open questions. When you want to get your audience talking, closed questions should be the first weapon you pick out of your arsenal.

12. Ask Open Questions

Sometimes, closed questions aren’t enough, especially when you want to engage your audience in-depth, or you’re mid conversation. In cases like these, open questions are totally appropriate. You won’t get so many answers as when you ask closed questions, but the answers you get will be more insightful.

13. Make a Vine Video

Available for iOS and Android, Twitter Vine lets you make and share bite-size six second videos. Vine recently ousted Instagram to become the top social sharing application. It’s set to become a mainstay of engagement on Twitter, so get using it now to claim your early adopter advantage.

14. Share Images

Like video, images are great for attracting a crowd. In fact, tweets with multimedia content, whether its image or video, receive four to five times more engagement compared to those without.

15. Curate Content

Business owners often assume content marketing is a ton of work because it means creating a ton of content. Not so! You can be a content marketer without creating any content, aside from tweets. How? Be a curator. Collect compelling, relevant content from other sources, and bring it together in your Twitter feed. Then you’ll be seen as an expert is your field, without creating anything. Simple, no?

16. Share Links

Curating content has another important purpose — it means sharing links. Tweets with links have an 86% higher retweet rate compared to those without.

17. Make the Most of Your Assets

If you’ve got the time to create your own content, you should totally do that (as well as curating the content of others). And, gone are the days when content had a limited shelf-life. With RSS-readers in decline (and Google Reader utterly kaput), people are increasingly finding content on social media. You can keep old content evergreen by delving into your archives and sharing it again. Many of your followers won’t have seen it the first time around.

18. Make Your Posts Short Enough to Retweet

One of the greatest legends in Twitter lore is that of Tiny Buddha, who grew a follower count of hundreds of thousands without following anyone. On top of sharing practical wisdom, Tiny Buddha had a practical strategy. Every tweet was short enough that it could be retweeted.

When you’re targeting a tweet to be retweeted, make sure you leave enough characters to put “RT @YourUserName” at the beginning of the tweet.

19. Time Your Tweets to Perfection

The time of day you tweet has a huge impact on how many people will see what you’re sharing.

20. Use the Magic Dot

Sending a message to a follower on Twitter, but you want everyone to see it? If you stand a standard @reply, starting with the person’s username, only people who follow both of you will see it. Instead, start your reply with a period. This is the magic dot, and it means all your followers get to see the message.

21. Hashtag!

We’ve written extensively on hashtags, and for good reason. Hashtags help people discover you and your content. To create a hashtag, you simply put a pound sign in front of a word or phrase, #LikeThis. If you’re not currently including hashtags in your tweets, start today, and watch your follower count grow rapidly. Chances are you’ll double your engagement.

22. Mix Up Your Hashtags

Once you’ve found a solid hashtag that’s connected with your niche, it’s tempting to stick with it. Run with what works, right? When it comes to hashtags, however, experimenting is the name of the game. Find as many different hashtags from your niche as possible. Each hashtag will reach out to a different audience.

23. Don’t Stuff Hashtags

Hashtags are brilliant. Hashtag stuffing is not. You only need one or two hashtags per tweet, maximum. Three hashtags or more, and engagement starts to plummet.

24. Track Clicks

Engagement ultimately comes from your audience appreciating what you’re saying. If what you share is useful, inspiring and entertaining, they’ll want more of it, and want to spend more time hanging out with you. How can you find out whether you’re sharing the right things, aside from tracking your follower count?

Watch what people click. Tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer App allow you to track how many people click each link that you share. Watch carefully which types of links attract the most clicks.

25. Count Replies

As well as tracking clicks, you should also keep tally of the number of replies you receive. Which posts provoke the most comments from your audience? Keep track over time of how many replies you receive. If the number is going up, then you’re on the path for engagement success.

26. Tot Up Retweets

Typically, around three quarters of your audience engagement will come from retweets. As with clicks and replies, notice which types of posts attract retweets. When your followers want to share what you’re saying with their friends, then you’ve hit content gold.

27. Repeat What Works

Tracking stats has one ultimate purpose. When you’ve discovered what works, do more of it. That’s all.

28. Remember to Say Thank You

Sadly, we live in a world where people feel like they have a right for things to go well for them, for everyone to be helpful, and for everything to work as it should. As such, it’s rare for people to say thank you. You don’t say thank you for things you believe you have a right to.

Break that mold. Start thanking people on Twitter for sharing things you find helpful, for being themselves, or for taking the time to retweet you. As you’re going against the norm, you’ll stand out. And people loved to be thanked, so you’ll be remembered too.

29. Listen for Trends

A couple of times a day, tune into your Twitter feed and find out what’s going on out there. You don’t always have to join in the chatter or click any links. Just get a feel for what people are talking about. When you know what’s hot in conversation, you can be a better conversationalist.

30. Kick Off Conversation

Twitter is no place for shyness. Plunge into the conversation. Reply to the tweets of people you follow. Start conversations. Be the one who reaches out. Think about how great it feels when people take the time to reply to you, and know you’re giving that feeling to others.

31. Ask For Help

If there’s one that makes anyone in the world feel good, it’s helping others. So, if you want to make your followers feel good, ask them for help. What’s more, being willing to ask for help shows you’re a real, vulnerable human being. This helps strengthen your connection with your followers.

32. Be Helpful

In the same way that you can ask for help on Twitter, you can reach out and help others. And you don’t even need to wait around for those you follow to raise the alarm. Instead, you can search for questions in your niche. We recommend the InboxQ Chrome plugin. You give it keywords, and it keeps you updated around the clock on any questions asked on Twitter related to that keyword.

33. Be Consistent

Imagine if you followed CNN’s Twitter account, and the person responsible for updating CNN’s feed started sharing details of last night’s party. Or, less extreme, what if Baseball America one day switched the topic of all their tweets to football?

When you’re using your Twitter account as a promotional tool, you must give your audience what they expect. Treat your professional Twitter feed as you would a blog. It’s about one topic, and you should stick to that topic. Drive off the beaten path, and you’ll rapidly lose followers.

34. Be Yourself

Being consistent doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself. Sure, some parts of your life are best known only to you. But that’s no excuse for making your Twitter feed bland. Pour soul into everything you do on Twitter. Have a good, positive energy, and you’ll draw people in.

35. Ask for Retweets

Ask and it shall be given unto you. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. But enough proverbs. You get the point. And when it comes to asking for retweets, it’s statistically proven that asking works. Research by Dan Zarella of Hubspot found asking for retweets with a simple “Please retweet” increases the retweet rate four times. If that doesn’t blow your mind, this will. Buddy Media tried the same experiment, and found including the phrase “Please Retweet” increases the retweet rate by 23 times compared to the average. The results may be different, but they’re all pointing in the right direction.

36. Retweet Others

Everyone knows the golden rule: do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. But few of us manage to live by it. On Twitter, you can and should live by it. You want retweets, so go ahead and retweet others.

37. Add Value to Your Retweets

When you retweet, always add value. The easiest way to do this is to add a short comment. Even if it’s just “Great read!”, your retweet will stand out, because few people bother to do this. To really give your retweets a turbo injection, you should rewrite the headline.

38. Join a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats are like weekly conferences that you can join from your office desk or couch. They’re an opportunity to hang out and connect with like minded people while having a blast. You can find a full schedule of chats here. Alternatively, if you notice someone you follow taking part in a Twitter chat, join in! There are no barriers for entry. All you have to do is include the chat’s hashtag in any tweets you want to be part of the chat.

39. Host a Twitter Party

Twitter chat’s are typically weekly affairs, and can be quite formal. What if you want to host a one-off informal event? Then a Twitter party is precisely what the doctor ordered. You can use Twitter parties to launch a new product, announce a new business venture, or celebrate a business milestone. Hosting a party is easy peasy, but if you’re nervous about how it works, then take part in one first. You’ll meet fascinating people and maybe win some new followers.

40. Talk to People – Really

There’s a world out there, and it’s burgeoning with fantastic people who’d love to meet you. People who know you in real life will always be more loyal and engaged as Twitter followers. So get out there and make yourself some friends! Attend conferences in your industry. Talk to your customers. Find a local tweet-up where you can meet other tweeters. However you do it, you’ll be glad you did.

41. Tone Up Your Tweets

When it comes to tweeting, the shorter the better. Even 140 characters can be flabby if they’re not direct and to the point. If you’re wasting words, you’re losing followers. As a bonus, by toning up your tweets you’ll sharpen your writing skills too. Concise writing is quality writing.

42. Insert Power Words

Dan Zarella of Hubspot analyzed over 30 million retweets. In his results, he listed the twenty most retweeted words. These are:

  • you
  • twitter
  • please
  • retweet
  • post
  • blog
  • social
  • free
  • media
  • help
  • please retweet
  • great
  • social media
  • 10
  • follow
  • how to
  • top
  • blog post
  • check out
  • new blogpost

These are all words that can be used by anyone in any niche, so there’s no excuse for failing to polish up your tweets with them.

43. Avoid Weakling Words

Zarella’s research also uncovered the 20 least retweetable words. These are:

  • game
  • going
  • haha
  • lol
  • but
  • watching
  • work
  • home
  • night
  • bed
  • well
  • sleep
  • gonna
  • hey
  • tomorrow
  • tired
  • some
  • back
  • bored
  • listening

Again, you’ve got no excuses for failing to avoid these words.

44. Don’t Tweet About Your Breakfast

Notice anything else about Dan Zarella’s list of the least retweetable words? They’re pretty much all about daily tasks: working, watching TV, listening to music, playing games, sleeping. Twitter started as a way of updating our friends about our day-to-day lives. It’s evolved from there. Don’t take it back to the dark ages, please.

45. Schedule Tweets

No one can be on Twitter 24/7. It’s a physical impossibility. But once you’ve built up a couple thousand followers, you can guarantee that at anytime of day, at least one of them will be online. Scheduling tweets with a tool such as Buffer App means you can connect with followers around the clock, even when you’re in a business meeting or snoring the night away. And the more you reach out, the more potential customers you’ll pull in. Research has shown that businesses who schedule tweets generate three times more leads from Twitter.

46. Snoop On Yourself

From time to time, it’s worth putting your brand name into Twitter’s search bar. You’ll discover what people really think of your brand by seeing what they say when they don’t know if you’re listening. You’ll get a good idea of what’s working in your business, and what needs to change.

No one talking about you? Then it’s time you got engaging and created a splash!

47. Inspire with Quotes

Not sure what to tweet? Put together a collection of inspiring quotes, and tweet those. Quotes are retweet bait. Use them as your secret weapon when you’re not sure what else to say. But use them sparingly, because if you become an over-quoter, you’ll quickly discover you’re under-followed.

48. Google is the Tweeter’s Friend

Google trends, in particular, will help you discover hot topics. Head over to the trends website and put a generic term from your industry into the search bar (e.g. photography). In the bottom right of your screen, you’ll see a box of related terms. Click “rising” and you’ll see what’s trending in search right now. These are the topics to tweet about.

49. Avoid Blunders

Beware of jumping on any Twitter bandwagon that passes your door. After the tragic shootings at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, the word #Aurora began to trend on Twitter. The social media manager of a boutique selling dresses with the Aurora brand name noticed this, and saw it as a promotional opportunity. Big mistake.

Bonus Tip: Never Buy Followers

Having more followers looks good. It boosts your credibility. As such, it can be tempting to pick up a few followers on the black market. There are plenty of shady types who will sell you fake Twitter followers. The only problem is, these followers are fake. They actually reduce engagement as a percentage of your overall follower count, because they’re never going to retweet you or reply to a tweet. Plus if you get caught out with a roster of fake followers, the egg’s on your face, buddy.

Related Reading

4 Ways to Grow a Twitter Following That Matters
Social Media Examiner

9 Scientifically Proven Ways to Build Followers on Twitter
Inc.

How I Attracted 10,000 Twitter Followers in a Year (My 5 Step Process)
Leaving Work Behind

How to Build a Targeted Twitter Tribe of 100,000
Jeff Bullas

How to Get More Twitter Followers (The Ultimate Twitter Tips Guide)
Social Triggers

Your Turn!

Which Twitter techniques have brought you the most success?

Lori R Taylor is the founder and executive editor of Social Caffeine. In 2009 she started her own direct response focused social media agency, REV Media Marketing LLC, coining the phrase given by her young son, “You bring the rain, we’ll make it pour.” Follow Lori on Twitter.

David Masters is our lead writer, idea spinner and super blogger. He’s British, and lives in Wales, but we don’t hold that against him. Follow David on Twitter.

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