Tag Archives: how to use Twitter

So, You Don’t Understand Twitter, Let Me Explain

We need to get a few of the fundamentals straight about Twitter.

Your reach is directly proportional to the number of followers you have. An average Twitter account has around 500 followers. Some Twitter Pros have hundreds of thousands and even millions of followers. Most of us, working in the middle, have somewhere around 1,500 followers. I’ve been working Twitter quite hard since launch, and I’ve got 23k followers. But it didn’t happen by accident. It didn’t happen because I have great content and ask for the follow at the end of every post I’ve ever written. Nope. The simple “grind” of following a ton of like-minded Tweeters, over and over, day after day, is why I’ve built my Twitter following. If you’re promoting your Twitter account but not doing the detail work to build your following, you’re wasting your time.

Twitter growth without an aggressive following strategy will gain you from 5 – 10 new followers a week. And this is from generating a ton of content, a ton more tweets and retweets, and asking for the follow. That’s about all your going to get. And that rate will not get you near your goal, if your goal is reach and influence.

Mind you, Twitter following growth is a pain in the ass.

And if you don’t believe me, well, try it for yourself and see what results you have. I’ve been growing this account for more than 5 years and I’ve tried everything short of paying a spammer for 10k followers for $19.95. I’ve never paid for followers. If you know what a spammer account looks like, you can see why they are of no value.

So what is the value of a follower on Twitter? Why do we do this? What’s so great and different about Twitter?

First let’s break down some simple numbers on your average Twitter reach and influence. Let’s say you’ve done some homework, you’ve been following new influencers, and you’ve grown your account to 2,000 followers. And let’s say you over-tweet and share 10 times a day to get your message out. (I typically tweet between 20 – 30 times a day.)

With the typical 3% reach, we can estimate that each of your tweets reaches 60 people. And if you repeat this process 9 more times, you’re liable to reach 600 followers, and mind you some of them will be overlap. Either way, you’ve tweeted 10 times and you’ve reached a little over 1/4 of your audience. Do you see a problem with our strategy?

You have to tweet more frequently to increase your reach. I recommend using #hashtags to create unique tweets and tweeting them in real-time using a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootesuite. I do not believe in pre-scheduled tweets as these have ZERO chance for starting a conversation. If you’re going to tweet at least do it as a human and not as an auto-bot.

Okay, so you’ve got two new tasks on your to-do list.

  1. Follow a lot more like-minded tweeters
  2. Tweet a lot more frequently, but don’t spam

So how do you find people to follow?

The simplest way is to look at who’s following you and follow who they follow. Find leaders in your industry and follow who they follow. And if you’re lasy, use the “Who to follow” section of Twitter.com and click away.


While Twitter’s algorithm get’s off on some weird tangents, you can follow a lot of people quite quickly by using this little widget.

The real drudgery is the unfollow process. I’ve been using the free version of Manageflitter to help season my list. In the same way, “who to follow” puts all of the potential follows in a little window, Manageflitter can show you a list of “who does not follow you back.” It’s then a grind to click on each unfollow button, but it’s better than trying to do it without the tool.

I often season the list for a week before unfollowing people. And I go through my followers daily and follow back all the real people, who seem legitimate. This is partially to keep them from unfollowing me in the same way I do, using Manageflitter, but it’s also to grow my list of potential influential followers. If they found me they are often real people with like interests. That’s the idea.

Recap: 1. Follow Many. 2. Tweet Often. 3. Unfollow non-followers every week. 4. Follow new followers back.

If you don’t grow your Twitter reach intentionally it will probably not get as big and powerful as it might. Work it.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

A Quick Peek Into Twitter Analytics. Got Your Tweet On? How’s It Going?

It was both a happy and a sad day when Twitter opened up their analytics data to those of us not gullible enough to pay for ads on Twitter. And while the data is robust, the effective reach and influence of Twitter might not be what you hoped. Let’s take a gander inside and see what we can learn about our (your) tweeting effectiveness.

First off, everyone loves the big chart. Here’s my big chart from Twitter analytics.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 9.09.48 AM

That’s a nice number, don’t you think? 317,700 impressions. And they are virtually free. (I don’t pay to promote any of my own tweets. I’m still experimenting with some client accounts, but I’ve not seen any good reason to continue. More on that in a minute.)

So yes, I’m very influential according to this Twitter chart. Of course, I’ve worked up my following over years to just over 20,000 followers. And I’ve been pretty judicious with my growth strategy, trying to keep this account focused 100% on digital marketing and social media. Still the reach from 20,000 followers is a lot less than you might think. Here’s an average sampling of my tweet reach.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 9.38.15 AM


So, let me get this straight. I have 20k+ followers and my average reach is 150 – 200 people? That’s messed up. (Okay, so it only takes into account viewers on Twitter.com and not all the people using tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. I use Bit.ly to create trackable links so I can measure the actual reach, but nothing quite as pretty as Twitter’s analytics.) Still, that is only 1% of my followers that see my post, much less have a chance to “engage” with it. Here are the nice graphs that Twitter provides of my 30-day trending average.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 9.09.06 AM

So what’s the key to making Twitter work for you? Um… You Tweet a lot! And you stay on message. If I started tweeting random facts (ala Guy Kawasaki) or coupons my following would start leaving. I can tell the health of my following better with an external tool like bit.ly where I can actually see how many people clicked on a link from a tweet in any tool. All clicks, rather than just the one’s Twitter.com sees and records. And I can watch my site, when I tweet a link, and see how quickly the traffic jumps to my page. A good tweet will bring approximately 30 people per tweet to a post I am promoting. I can tell when I’m on the mark by the response I get in real-time. Bad tweet, or off topic, low engagement on my blog. Good tweet, I get RTs (retweets) and replies. (Yeah, and Favs, but what do those do again?) And guess what, Twitter’s got a chart for that too, and in nice colors.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 9.09.37 AM


Go check out how your tweets are doing. Here’s the link https://ads.twitter.com/. And then use a tool like bit.ly to see how a link within any tweet is doing. And because bit.ly is an external tool, it can track the links much more accurately than Twitter. And you can set bit.ly to be your default shortener inside Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. (You are using a twitter tool, right?) Here’s what my Twitter command system looks like in Tweetdeck for my four primary Twitter accounts. And while I rarely tweet on all four accounts at once, I could…

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 10.15.51 AM

You may have to tweak your tweeting habits a bit to get maximum results. And if you watch your analytics and bit.ly accounts you can tell when you’re on the mark. You will still need to ramp up your following to get free reach. But that 1% exposure is almost free and good for business.

Finally, you can get a lot of data from the free version of Tweetreach. Here’s my snapshot for the last 50 tweets.


Be a good tweeter. Learn what your audience is engaged with. And when you find a formula that works repeat it. Don’t repeat the tweet, but it is quite okay to tweet a lot. Imagine that 1% of your followers might see ANY tweet. And do the math from there.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)