Tweet Smarter not Harder – Part Two


If you read Part One of this series, you recall I discussed targeting and third-party applications to save you time and help you market you business and product or service more effectively.

Goals For This Post (Part Two)

  • The beauty of Lists and how they can help you use Twitter more effectively
  • Discuss branding, content tweets, and promo tweets and why you need to understand the difference
  • A note on targeted following


I mentioned lists briefly in Part One for the purpose of finding targets but they do so much more. Here are my top ten reasons you should be using lists:

1) The number one reason to use lists: each list allows you to add up to 500 people aka tweeps. You can have up to 20 lists (public or private though I recommend public). I suck at math but even I can figure out that’s 10K people!

It can take up to a year to garner a following of 10K people (or to even follow that many), but guess what? Lists allow you to jump over that hurdle. Lists are Twitter’s worst-kept secret. Why secret? Because the List button is right there out in the open yet very few people utilize or know what to do with them.

2) Lists are a perfect way to attract followers to your stream. People are flattered you’ve added them to a list. It means you care enough to take that extra step (which takes seconds). It’s like you invited them to an exclusive party.

3) Think of lists as labels, or folders, which allow you to break down your tweeps by specific interests or categories. You curate your lists; be as general or as specific as you’d like.

Tip: customize your lists ideally by keywords, interests, client base, etc.

4) Creating Lists is really easy. Here’s an easy link that tells you how to create a list though to be honest, Twitter makes it uber easy. The Create List tab is self-evident.

The best part about Lists is that you can list someone as you follow them. If you purge or unfollow, you can easily unlist them.

Lists are very fluid. They grow and change as your Twitter grows and changes. You may start with lists of people you connect with and six months from now you may have grown in different directions, it’s easy to change and edit your lists to reflect that.

5) Lists helps you organize only those of interest to you. As your account grows, it becomes harder to keep up with your followers’ content. Use lists to read only the tweets of those followers who are of most interest to you.

6) As you peruse new followers, check out their lists. You can simply follow the list, which doesn’t mean you’re following all the people on the list (Twitter requires you follow people individually), but this is useful if you find the people on the list interesting and value their content for RTs. It’s almost like giving people a test run.

I do this a lot. Crib from other people’s lists – they’ve already done the work! Why not? If you have similar interests, follow the list and pick five to ten people from the list who interest you to follow individually.

Note: I don’t recommend following every person on someone’s list, or you’re just duplicating their work – in that case, just click ‘follow the entire list.’

7) Lists are editable. If your job or interests change, you can simply edit, retitle, or even delete a list. Twenty lists sounds like a lot but as your account grows into the thousands, you’ll find yourself editing and changing your lists.

8) Lists can help increase your Klout score. Klout now encourages you to list people and give +K for listing people. You can import your lists into Klout as well.

9) Be creative with your list titles but not stupid. I see so many ‘People who RT me’ lists. Snore. I have lists on my @RachelintheOC account such as Awesome Redheads (you can figure that out for yourself), Charming Men (Guys: What do I have to do to get on that list? Me: Not ask), and Fab Writers 1 and 2.

10) The more you list others, the more you are listed. Twitter is all about karma. Give and you shall receive. I find that the more I pay attention to lists, the more people follow me. And it takes only minutes every day.

Tip: A good way for people to find you on lists is to add yourself to Listorious, the Twitter List Directory. It’s free and easy to join.


Big topic, really a whole other blog post. Suffice it to say, you need to identify six to nine keywords that encompass your brand. Broad enough that people will look for those words in SEARCH (authors, social media, SEO) but specific enough to convey your specialty (humor, editing, food services).

You will use those words when crafting your tweets.

There are two types of tweets: content and promo.

Content: no links, provide info, resources, data, expertise, discussion, even other Twitter handles. Anything where there is no call to action on the reader’s part to go somewhere other than Twitter. No click required. No http://. (Speaking of which, don’t use www. The Twitter API doesn’t recognize it.)

Promo: links. A call to action. A click that takes them somewhere else. And yes, RTs (retweets) count as promo if they have a link. It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting someone else, anything with a link counts as promotion.

The ideal ratio of content to promo is still up for discussion depending on whom you talk to, but for a personal stream, anywhere from 3 to 5 content (no links) for every 1 promo (links), is fairly standard. For a professional account, 1:1 is acceptable. Others disagree and say 8:1 content to promo no matter what type of account you have.

Everyone agrees on this: if all you do is put a link in every tweet, you are spamming. This breaks Twitter’s TOS (Terms of Service) guidelines (which state ‘you cannot use Twitter for the purposes of spamming anyone and if your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates, you can be shut down.’) Besides which, it’s annoying and you are fatiguing your stream.

Your mom wants good content. Not spam. Don’t disappoint your mom. ~ Copyblogger

Note: If you are a member of @Triberr the ‘reach multiplier’(as I am), you need to add in more content tweets to balance the additional promotional RTs (links). You can also separate your Triberr tribemates tweets at whatever interval you choose – I chose ninety minutes.

At a loss for tweets? I advise my clients to always go back to their keywords. This helps with a consistent message to your followers but also gets you in the habit of knowing your branding well. Using a #hashtag with these keywords increases followers as well – people will find you and follow based on this common interest.

Need market research but tight on cash? Ask your followers – they will tell you what you need to know. Where else can you tap thousands of people in your given market about a specific product or service of interest to them? Plus, people love to give their opinion.


A final note on following. It’s important to curate an interactive following that shares common interests. Resist the urge to join in mass following trains or automate your following (which is technically against Twitter’s TOS anyway).

Following 25-50 common tweeps each day using SEARCH and LISTS will create the kind of relevant following you want, that grows with you. Twellow is a free, cool little ‘yellow pages’ kind of directory to list yourself and follow others by category.

Tip: If you’re not sure what to tweet about, ask your tweeps! We are, all of us, sometimes brain-dead. None of us is always on, 100% of the time. Just as you ask your readers at the end of a blog post to comment, do the same with your Twitter followers (though, as I mentioned in Part One, if you schedule your tweets using your keywords, hopefully you’ll have put some thought into it!).

And instead of participating in the weekly mind numbing #FF (Follow Friday) meme, ask them instead who they found most fascinating to follow that week? Who are their five favorite follows and why?

Their answers may surprise you.


By using Twitter more effectively with the tips I’ve provided today, you should be able to:

  • Further your niche targeting using Lists with less effort and time on your part;
  • Follow more people quickly and have more people find you;
  • Use your keywords to focus your branding in content and promo tweets, understanding better the ratio for less annoying spam;
  • Market research your product or service completely free
  • Curate an interactive, targeted following.

What are your thoughts about lists now that you’ve learned more? Do you understand more the types of tweets and how to balance content versus promo?

Please share you thoughts below.

Rachel Thompson aka @RachelintheOC is the #1 bestselling Kindle author of two nonfiction humor books, A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed. She also cowrote Dollars & Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-Publishing Success. Rachel is also the founder of BadRedhead Media aka @BadRedheadMedia, where she provides social media consulting and management for clients ranging from authors, chefs, toys, and even a rock star.

She loves Nutella, hates walks in the rain, and questions coconut’s place in the universe.

She welcomes your questions and comments. Email her anytime

About Jorgen Poulsen

The Catalyst Partnership provides cost effective Social Media Marketing solutions to small and medium-sized businesses. Social Media Marketing is one of today's most successful and cost effective online marketing strategies and is being embraced by millions of companies from Fortune 100 to small companies. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you implement a Social Media Marketing strategy.
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32 Responses to Tweet Smarter not Harder – Part Two

  1. I’m wondering how serious is the threat of getting kicked off of Twitter if you have too many tweets with a promotional flavor. Or RTs. Many writers do and I’m one of them I’m afraid, although I do quite a bit of just interations I suppose.
    Also, how about doing a blog on how to use Tribrr?

    • As long as you are not completely automated, Marla, it’s ok. They are crawling for purely computer generated streams full of nothing but links. And to speak to what many writers are doing, yes. It’s a big mistake in my opinion and highly ineffective because they’re mostly spamming to other writers doing the same thing. (Which isn’t to say writers aren’t a supportive community. We ARE. But there are tons of other ways to utilize that support.)

      I just wrote a post on my @BadRedheadMedia blog about 25 other ways to sell your book without constantly spamming links on Twitter — many are free. For many people, it’s a matter of education. The time aspect I hear (everyday, believe me) is an excuse.
      We’re all busy.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I’d love to a post about Triberr. Jorgen, are you listening, darling? 🙂

  2. I’m always listening.

    As you know I don’t think using lists is the most time efficient way to grow your followers. While lists is one way you still don’t know if they are on the list because they are interested in your twitter topics for example.

    I still find that is by far not only the most time efficient way to target followers but it will also allow you to be extremely targeted.

    For example I used it to find other twitters living in Nice who had tweeted within the last 2 days, had a customised avatar, spoke English, was following more than 1,000 twitters etc. etc. Social Bro will bring up a lists and you can follow 24 with one click go to the next page and follow 24 again. Using lists means follow one at a time.

    Bottom line –> Ignore at your peril.

    • I agree, Jorgen, you absolutely must use the application that works best for you. SocialBro rocks.

      I think people get comfortable with a certain app and figure out what features they enjoy and go from there. I’ve worked with many: Sprout Social (great), Hootsuite (best for scheduling & handling multiple accounts), Pluggio (terrific), Tweetdeck (blech), and scores of mobile apps.

      I’ll be writing a post soon on my favorite apps but still, it’s all in what the user finds most helpful to them. Just like finding a fav book. We’ll all never agree.

      • I agree Rachel that you get used to the apps you use and learn many of their functionality and the shift to another app is hard because of having to spend time learning to use the new app.

        I believe that the main reason people are not using SocialBro is because it’s still not well known. However, if people would spend a little time getting to know the app they would truly appreciate the power of it.

        Now that you have tried SocialBro did you stop using it? Is Pluggio at par with SocialBro?

  3. Thanks Rachel. Tell us how to get to your blog, there are too many big, bad, redheads out there!
    I’d like to read your posts.

  4. zoros1976 says:

    Reblogged this on Web & Social Media Strategist and commented:
    Good tips on tweeting

  5. I tweet for a tech publishing brand. There really isn’t much in this industry worth saying that can be said in 140 characters. As both a reader/consumer and a tweeter, I find treating tweets like a library card catalogue (pointing to information on various sites within an industry or content category and indicating WHY you think it’s worth reading, not just repeating the title) far more useful than what you call “content” tweets, which are mostly just a waste of space and usually so lacking in context that they make little or no sense (so I typically unsubscribe from twitterers with a high proportion of such posts).

    Those who only ever point to their OWN content I think of as, yes, spammers, but those who are intelligently curating content across multiple venues, leading me to things I might otherwise never find: That’s valuable.

    Thank you for the information about using lists, however. It’s an aspect of Twitter I hadn’t really taken advantage of.

    • Quite welcome. We all use Twitter for different reasons and that’s the beauty of it. Lists are amazing.

      For the purposes of branding and marketing, writing content that’s relevant to one’s brand, as a source of info can be quite helpful. For example, I provide many Twitter tips on my @BadRedheadMedia stream, such as those you read here today — along w/ tweets containing relevant links.

      Dan Zarrella’s book, The Hierarchy of Contagiousness, is a terrific read on social media science, discussing the broadcast only model which you might find interesting.

  6. Interesting that your Tweetbutton recommends following wordpressdotcom and not your own site. Do you not want followers?

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  9. Kelly Gamble says:

    Great info on lists, Rachel. I’m getting there, slowly.

    • Sweet. It’s a process. A good place to start is with your main interests, and get in the habit of adding people to lists as you follow them. Though one very good friend does it once/week. Whatever works for you.

      I find that as I follow people every day, using LISTS to find people makes it easy to follow and list at the same time. Boom, done. Whatever works for you, do it.

      Thanks for the visit, Kelly!

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  13. Rachel, thank you for a very useful post. Unfortunately I came across Part 2 before Part 1 but needless to say both have helped me understand Twitter’s platform better. I like the list concept and actively use this currently. One question – I follow Hector Cuevas, he has soem fantastically informative posts via his tweets. In fact all his tweets have links! How does he avoid twitter jail? Is it because he is promoting other bloggers vai his twitter account?

    • Hi Zoe. Glad you found the post(s) useful!

      There are millions of streams which are full of only links. What Twitter is looking for are ones that lead to spam, fraud, or hacks. Clearly, Hector is not dangerous or leading people down a path that will compromise their accounts. He may be flagged (hypothetically for the purpose of this example), but on further investigation, his content is valuable not compromising.

      I hope that makes sense.

      Thanks for visiting and your comment!

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  20. says:

    Reblogged this on Spainmedia.

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