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How to Use Twitter as an Idea Machine

by Team Caffeine · 4 comments

Twitter Ideas

The interwebs are greedy. The more great content you create, the more you’re expected to create.

But what happens when the well runs dry? What should you do when you’re parched for ideas?

How can you create awesome content, day after day?

Turn to Twitter, and you’ll find a well of inspiration that’s ever flowing.

Here are three simple techniques you can use.

1. The Andrew Chen Method

Entrepreneur and angel investor Andrew Chen uses a simple three-step formula to help him come up with things to write about.

  1. Tweet an insight, idea, or quote.
  2. See how many people retweet it.
  3. If it catches, then I write a blog post elaborating on the topic.

Sharing an idea in a tweet only takes him a minute or two. If the tweet gets ignored, he’s not lost much at all. But if it’s picked up and retweeted, he knows he’s got a great idea that he should expand upon.

2. Check You’re Writing in the Right Direction

Spirituality author and storyteller Donald Miller uses Twitter while he’s writing books. He shares ideas from the book to find out whether his readers will appreciate what he’s writing about.

Miller explains:

I recently used Twitter to find out what themes and ideas would stimulate thought. I would tweet an idea I was writing about, and if it got re-tweeted or stimulated conversation, I was more eager to use it in my book.

Here are Donald’s four steps for getting ideas on Twitter:

  1. Tweet a chapter idea and ask if anybody has given the idea any thought. If you hear crickets, skip that chapter.
  2. Got a powerful one-liner? Tweet it and see if it gets re-tweeted. You might turn that one-liner into a complete paragraph or more.
  3. Stuck on an idea? Tweet and ask anybody if they’ve read an interesting article about it. Twitter is a great resource tool.
  4. Use Twitter to summarize an idea. The great thing about 140 characters is it makes you condense your thinking, which is often the essence of good writing.

3. Split Test Headlines

Leo Widrich of Buffer App uses Twitter to split test headline ideas. Here’s the steps he follows:

1.) Find 2 headlines for an article that you think will perform well.
2.) Tweet both of these headlines at roughly the same time, at least 1 hour apart. Here I’ve found that doing the 2 Tweets both in the AM or both in the PM works best – 9am is much more similar to 10am, then say 12pm is to 1pm. So going with clear “morning” or “afternoon” times is crucial.
3.) Compare the data for which headline to settle on.

In one test Widrich conducted, one tweet got twice as many clicks as the other tweet, so he had a clear winner.

Over to You

Have you ever used Twitter to come up with ideas? What techniques do you use?

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 is our acting editor. He’s British, but we don’t hold that against him.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave September 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Seems like items #1 and #2 would imply that you already HAVE ideas, and are really just sharing these ideas on Twitter to see which one resonates more? Not really ‘idea generation’ (what I take ‘idea machine’ to indicate) but more like idea validation?

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Ben Murray - VirtualPioneer.com September 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Great tips. Just use Twitter to find new product ideas and questions to write about with the advanced search and search only for questions.

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Addy October 6, 2014 at 7:29 am

Great post, very informative and you have mentioned some great points on how to use twitter. I am still not comfortable using twitter, may be because I was not using it right. I’ve been wanting a solution from a very long time. I am surely going to try out your tips. Thank you for sharing this post, your thoughts and knowledge on this topic.

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