How to develop your Twitter strategy in 2018

Twitter is upping its game so you should too.

If you’re like me and you use Twitter you probably haven’t given much thought to your approach to the platform over the last few years.

Plagued by controversy and with zero growth, the future of Twitter was considered treacherous, to say the least.

While it has remained popular with politicians, journalists and other elites, there’s a growing sense of renaissance to the Twitter platform.

Recent changes to its algorithm, character limit and the removal of automated bots are signalling a more rosy period for the platform. Indeed Twitter is surpassing Facebook and Google as the dominant place for news.

This, in turn, is causing people like me to reconsider how I use it. In short, I need to up my game.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with how you use certain tools and platforms like Twitter. But if you’re doing social media the same as you were even just a year then you are probably doing it wrong. Or, rather, not doing everything right.

Below is a list of tactics that I’m currently deploying to up my Twitter game. Consider this a phase I strategy with phase II focusing more on tweet formats and other users.

Feel free to use them or add your own in the comments.

Clean your ‘following’ list

The value of Twitter is in the people you follow. The more your followers contribute to the platform the more value you will get from it.

If you’ve been using Twitter for a while you will have likely accumulated people you follow but don’t engage with. Maybe it’s because your focus has changed, perhaps it’s because they rarely tweet or they might just use Twitter purely as a distribution channel for their links.

These are accounts that add no value to your Twitter experience and will likely be pulling down your score in the Twitter algorithm.

Give your Twitter follower list a clean to discover:

  1. Irrelevant Twitter accounts (inc those that don’t follow you)
  2. Who hasn’t tweeted in a while
  3. Who is just tweeting links to their own platforms

To do 1 and 2 you can use a service like Manageflitter which will help you identify these accounts easily.

#1 Unfollow irrelevant Twitter accounts 

If they are no longer relevant unfollow them. You may have followed some accounts when you were interested in a particular subject but are no more. Your Twitter follower list should evolve as you do and sometimes that means culling certain accounts you’re no longer interested in.

If this is the case, use one of the services mentioned above to identify and unfollow them.

#2 Unfollow those who haven’t tweeted recently

Here you have to be a little ruthless. Accounts that rarely update or haven’t been updated in a while are a lag on your algorithmic scoring. The less active your followers are the less average engagement you’ll receive which impacts how the algorithm scores you.

Even if they’re family, friends or colleagues unfollow them which sounds pretty ruthless and cut-throat but the truth is if they rarely tweet then they probably don’t care about Twitter anyway.

How long does someone have to be inactive on Twitter before you unfollow them?

I’m pretty harsh. If they haven’t updated in two weeks they’re gone. Twitter is real time so if you’re not on there regularly then there’s no value.

#3 Unfollow those who use it just to tweet links to their own sites

Unfollow any people that use their Twitter profile as a means to share links to their blog or company website. These are people who don’t use Twitter as a platform to engage or to provide anything meaningful. Chances are if you tweeted to them they wouldn’t see it as they don’t check their replies.

Block fake followers

If your Twitter profile has a lot of fake accounts following you, it will drag your algorithm score down.

Why? Because Twitter will assume you’re trying to inflate your numbers to appear more influential than you are. Many people do this.

Use a service like TwitterAudit to analyze how many of your followers it says are fake.

To do this you have to pay for a Pro account which is either $4.99 or $9.99 depending if they have a sale running or not.

twitteraudit to remove fake followers

TwitterAudit will look at which of your followers look suspicious. As you can see above, it flagged 69 of my followers as fake.

When I analyzed them I found they weren’t actually fake accounts but they hadn’t been updated and had no profile image. Fake? Not really, but certainly unused.

Needless to say, I blocked them all.

Analyze the optimal time to tweet (when your followers are online)

Twitter works in real-time and while its algorithm will sometimes show you popular tweets that are a day old, you generally have to work within a tweet half-life of a few hours.

This is why identifying the best time to tweet is important. Knowing when your followers are on Twitter will give you the best bang for your buck when you tweet.

To discover this you can use a social media management tool like Agorapulse which will analyze your Twitter data so you can identify the best day and time to tweet.

Below you can see that Agorapulse has identified that the best days for me to tweet are Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. And the best times are between 9am-12pm, 3pm-6pm and 9pm-12am.

I’ll use these days and times as a guide as opposed to a rule of when I should tweet. If you want to get as much visibility of a tweet or set of tweets as possible then include your optimal days and times in your scheduling.

That’s what I have done. I use the social media management tool Socialbee to manage tweet content and have scheduled more updates during these periods.

best day to tweet
Source: Agorapulse
best time to tweet
Source: Agorapulse

Analyze the content format that resonates best with your followers

Knowing which content format resonates with your followers will also help you to drive further engagement.

Again, using Agorapulse you can find out which of the formats out of text, media or link receives the most engagement from your followers.

I found that my followers engage with media (images, videos, GIFs) the most which I instinctively knew so it was good to see this verified by the data.

By doing this you will understand which content resonates with your followers the most. If, like me, media drives the most engagement then start thinking about how you can include more of it in your content.

For example, when sharing a link you should include an image alongside it. Or instead of using text to share a quote, use a screengrab of the quote instead. A/B test to see what works.

best media to tweet

Find your most active and engaging followers

Knowing who engages with you the most on Twitter can help boost your credibility in the algorithm. The more engagement you receive the better the score.

Instead of trying to generate more engagement with people you don’t know, you should focus on the people who already care.

Once again, Agoropulse allows you to see which of your followers are engaging with you and your tweets the most.

It provides you with a list of people who are your top engagers and who also share links to your website, blogs and articles.

Below are my top five (though the list goes into the hundreds) at the current time of writing.

most engaged followers
Source: Agorapulse

Agorpulse classifies followers into:

  • Engaged: This person has mentioned you directly (or through a reply to a conversation) or sent you a DM
  • Ambassador: This person has retweeted you or posted links to your website

These are the people I should be engaging with more often. Find out who yours are too.

Analyze your follower interests

Twitter Analytics provides a wealth of data relating to the content you produce and the interests of the people who follow you.

Knowing your follower interests allow you to create tweets and other content related to them. For example, below are the interests of my own followers which are generally in the areas of business, technology, finance, entrepreneurship and marketing.

twitter analytics

This data allows me to understand what type of content I should create to resonate with my followers. Ideally, I should be finding information related to these subjects and tweeting/retweeting useful links on them along with my opinion.

This helps build your credibility in the Twitter algorithm because you are, in theory, creating tweets that will drive more engagement among your followers.

This is why it pays to have your Twitter profile that is specific to a subject or industry. This way you can make the content more relevant to your followers.

Because of the disruptive playing field of the internet, we are often encouraged to ‘niche down’ – that is, to niche yourself so you can be more competitive in the market and more relevant to a specific audience. This is a good example why.

Set up content curation infrastructure

You’ve analyzed the best days and times to tweet and you know the types of content your followers are interested in, now you have to set up the infrastructure so you can create highly relevant tweets to your audience.

Being both a source and curator of information on Twitter will help you grow your influence among the people who matter to you.

And to do so you need to keep on top of what’s going on in the industries you’re in. For this you need to use a social media management software tool.

I use SocialBee which allows me to subscribe via RSS feeds to news sites like TechCrunch, The Next Web, Recode and many others. Each time these websites publish an article it’s sent to my SocialBee account which turns it into a tweet ready to be approved by me when I log in.

socialbee rss
RSS feeds to SocialBee

If I have something to say about a particular article I’ll edit the tweet and then I’ll either publish it or schedule it in for a suitable time.

SocialBee (and other social management tools) provide you with other options including the ability to schedule in ‘evergreen’ content at times most suitable to your audience (as noted above).

Tweet with the Twitter algorithm in mind

If you want to improve your Twitter game you’ve got understand how the Twitter algorithm works.

  • Make use of the 280 character limit 

Twitter has told us that tweets that take advantage of the 280 limit receive the most engagement. Why? Because you can fit more value in a longer tweet and by doing so you make it more likely to generate more engagement.

  • Up your tweeting frequency 

It’s common sense but the more value you provide the more likely the algorithm will see you as a credible user. Some of the most successful users of Twitter are prolific on the platform tweeting anywhere from 50 to 100 times per day.

  • Engage with your network

Being an active engager (instead of waiting for people to engage you) will improve your visibility in people’s timelines. The algorithm rewards you for proactive engagement by showing your tweets in their followers’ timelines more often.

If you tweet at someone and they tweet back (and assuming they’re following you) your tweets will show more prominently in their timeline.

If someone tweets at you or shares a link to one of your articles? Like it, thank them and/or retweet it.

  • Use the media that receives the most engagement

As mentioned above, using a service like Agoropulse to find out which types of content your tweet receives the most engagement. My followers engage more with my images so I try to include them in my tweets whenever possible.

Optimize your profile page

You should optimize your Twitter profile for new visitors. Which means doing two things:

1. Selling yourself

2. Pulling social triggers

Here’s how.

  • Bring the value in your bio 

Unless you’re someone famous your Twitter bio should outline to potential new followers who you are what you’re about. Perhaps more importantly, it should include the value you’ll provide to them if they decide to follow them.

  • Use a smiling profile shot 

Research shows that someone smiling is more likeable than someone who isn’t. It likely goes back to our primal days when we had to figure out if someone was a threat or not. No duckfaces, just smiles.

  • Take advantage of your banner image

If you’re based in a certain city and want to connect with local people, use an image of the city in your banner. Why? People resonate more with images of home. They’re more likely to see you as one of them. If you have something to promote then create a banner image specifically for it.

I live in London, so here’s my banner image.

ste davies twitter

Create a Twitter custom audience of your website visitors

If you have your own website you can set up a Twitter remarketing tag to capture everyone who’s on Twitter that visits your site.

That could be people who land on your site via search, referral, social (including Twitter) or anywhere else. These are the people who are familiar with you so are likely more receptive to you remarketing to them.

You can even track people who landed on a specific page. Say you have a consulting page you can set up a custom audience for everyone who visits that page. In theory, they could be potential clients looking for support (or competitors checking you out).

twitter custom audience

Above is a screengrab of my Twitter custom audience set up. Let’s say, for example, I have something to promote I can remarket to these audiences who are already familiar with my site.

It’s free to do and it will continue to collect data on Twitter users who visit my site. You can also create custom audiences on Facebook and LinkedIn too of course, which I do.

That’s Phase I of the Twitter strategy.

How would you optimize Twitter for 2018?

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