The local Twitterrati offer tips to gain influence

In branding, journalism, Kentucky, Lexington, reporting, social media, technology, Twitter on August 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I spent the last week learning about the people behind the tweets I see pop up on my local Twitter feed.

I had set out to find the biggest tweeters in Lexington, Ky., and with the help of Twitter Grader, I found out that a local social media consultant outranks the much beloved and worshipped University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach, or rather the Twitter profile that bears his name — someone else actually tweets for him.

A self-proclaimed iPhone hacker came in at No. 3, and in fourth place was a local sports commentator who is equally loved by Wildcat fans as he is hated by fans of all other schools in Kentucky.

And along with coming away with a great story, I’ve learned more about Twitter, how to write about it and how to be better at it. 

First big tip: Twitter Grader was a great find. As opposed to just ranking tweeters by followers, Twitter Grader uses an algorithm that looks at numbers of followers, the influence of those followers, how often other people re-tweet a person’s content and how often the tweeter is included on other tweeters’ lists.

It grades Twitter profiles, assigning tweeters a number grade out of 100 and rank among more than 10 million profiles.

(My account, @Writer_Em, came in 3,101,567th and got a grade of 69 — ouch! But to be fair, I started my personal Twitter account only 11 days ago. With some time, I’m hoping to at least make it into the B+ range.)

Twitter Grader also includes a page that lets you find the Twitter elite in your own town. This was key to my story.

And after finding out who is all a-Twitter in Lexington, I contacted several, hoping to learn more.

One thing I came away with is a list of tips for other tweeters who want to gain influence. This list also ran with my story, and I’m reposting it here as well.

Got a tip to add? Please do so in the comments section below.

  • Find a niche to tweet about, and follow people who are also writing about that topic.
  • Tune into conversations on the topics you’re interested in, and start taking part. “If there’s a party going on, you go where the party is. You don’t start a party by yourself and try to get people to come,” said Amanda Hite, aka sexythinker, a Lexington social media consultant. “The communities already exist.”
  • Focus more on listening to what other people are talking about and then respond, rather than only posting your own thoughts. “If you are doing all this talking, you’re going to just be talking to yourself,” she said.
  • If someone mentions you, your company or your website, respond to them to encourage them to continue thinking of you.
  • Do your homework so you can speak intelligently about what you’re interested in. “All success online starts offline,” Hite said. “You can’t fake it online.”
  • For most people, having witty tweets isn’t enough to get noticed. “Nobody cares about anybody’s day. Everybody has observations,” said Matt Jones, aka KySportsRadio, founder of KentuckySportsRadio.com. “You have to have something that people care about, and whatever that is, it’s got to be different.”
  • Choose a Twitter handle, or name, that’s easy to say and spell, so that people can share it by word of mouth. “If you have a brand, you have to go out and claim that Twitter handle for that brand,” said Kakie Urch, an assistant professor at UK who teaches about social media. “You might even go out and claim the Twitter handles around that brand.”
  • Participate in Twitter events like “follow Friday,” or #ff as it’s written on Twitter. This is where a tweeter lists the Twitter handles of people they think their followers should also follow.
  • Make your tweets full of content, something that other tweeters would like to share. “Tweets with links to great content get shared more often,” said Dharmesh Shah, founder and chief technology officer for HubSpot, which made Twitter Grader.
  • Resist the temptation to only share self-promotional news. “Those don’t get shared, and odds of getting followers goes down,” Shah said.
  • Invest the time to grow your following.

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