If you want to build a small, meaningful audience on Twitter that you connect with regularly, then this Twitter advice is for you.

We use Hootsuite. When it comes to actual Tweeting, we prefer HootSuite over Twitter.com because it offers more info at a glance. There are also some nice features:

  • HootSuite allows you to shrink URLs, makes RT’s and DM’s as easy as one click.
  • You can follow specific conversations without a lot of effort
  • You can schedule Tweets for peak times when you know people are active
  • There are also some cool click stats you can look at
  • You can use Hootsuite to manage multiple profiles

Use Twitter lists to prioritize. In HootSuite, you can create a list of Tweeple (that’s Twitter-speak for “people”) that you can display separately. Create a private “faves” list to save time and get right to what you’re interested in.

Adhere to the 19-20 rule. There’s a Twitter rule that someone smarter than us came up with called 19-20. For every 20 tweets you publish, 19 of them should re-tweets (RTs). Just like the best conversationalists listen much more than they talk, the best Tweeters RT with their own comments a LOT.

Follow people relevant to your niche. Frankly, we think this is the key to Twitter.

Compare Twitter to a big university campus. While there are some people who will become known campus-wide, most of us will only be known to a specific subset. Would you rather try and be one of the people that is known campus-wide, or would you rather be viewed as the person in your immediate group of friends?

While both have their benefits, it’s much easier to be known in a small group than it is to try and be known worldwide. Focus on a specific topic area – like auto enthusiasts – and don’t bother with following or engaging people who are outside those bounds.

Follow quality profiles. Aside from relevance, only follow people when:

  • They have a complete profile on Twitter. No picture? No chance. No bio or profile info? Nevermind.
  • Their profile shows RTs. Look at that person’s profile. Do they have RTs? If the answer is no, they’re probably not listening…so why follow them?
  • They’re not spammers. If the last Tweet was “Learn how you can make $418 a day from home,” skip it.

Tweet like crazy at events. At auto shows and conferences, spend significant time Tweeting and RT’ing about the event. It’s an easy way gain relevant followers and generate relationships. Make sure you use the appropriate event-specific hashtag when you Tweet at events.

Don’t forget the jokes – How come chicken coops have 2 doors? Because if they had 4 they’d be chicken sedans.

Jokes get RT’d pretty nicely. A good joke can be RT’d dozens of times, and it’s a great way to introduce your profile to someone who has never heard of you. If you can be funny in less than 100 characters, you will build a following on Twitter.

Tweet in 100 characters or less. Even though Twitter has lifted the 140 character limit, if you want people to RT you, make it easy to scan.

Tweet at people directly on a limited basis. If you want to get someone’s attention on Twitter, Tweet directly at them (not direct message, mind you, but a public tweet that’s directed towards someone). Since we all monitor our mentions closely, Tweeting at someone is a great way to get their attention. However, there are some criteria: If you do it too often, you become the “Tweep who cried wolf” and are ignored. If you do it out of context and/or without building a relationship, you get un-followed.

Featured image copyright: rvlsoft / 123RF Stock Photo

*This post was originally written in 2010. It was updated 4/18.