8 Tips for Becoming an Expert on Twitter

Of all the social media sites, I think Twitter is the best site to establish yourself as an expert, either professionally or recreationally. While LinkedIn is considered the professional social network, few people read articles or interact (like or share) with them on LinkedIn. This is likely because people don’t use LinkedIn every day. Instead most people view LinkedIn as their online resume.

Facebook is a great personal tool and people do visit it every day, but most people only want to share personal information there (family photos, videos, etc.). If you shared expert professional data on Facebook, or detailed hobby info, it would feel awkward and like a violation of your friends’ trust.

This brings us to Twitter which is really a place to share information, news and articles. Power users, like me, come to Twitter every day to find information relevant to their interest categories. Articles get a lot of interaction on Twitter in the forms of likes and retweets. It is the perfect place to provide interesting information to your followers thereby establishing yourself as an expert.

Through trial and error during the past year, I have developed a very effective approach to building a following on Twitter. More importantly, it is a following of people with similar interest to my expertise. I have never paid for followers or used retweet schemes to get irrelevant followers. My followers followed me because of the information that I share.

Profile Visits (past 6 months)

Since January 2015, I have grown my Twitter following from 109 followers to over 2,800 followers. During the same time, the number of profile visits I receive has grown from 68 to over 17,000 per month, with dramatic increases in the past 6 months (first chart at left). That is relevant because a profile visit will lead to additional followers, as well as clickthroughs to a company website (in your profile). Even more amazing than profile visits has been the explosion of Tweet Impressions I receive per month as my follower base has grown (last 6 months in chart below), to over 257,000 per month!

Tweet Impressions (past 6 months)

To help anyone interested in growing a Twitter following, I thought I would describe the methods I used this past year to grow my Twitter followers:

1. Define your Expertise — Before you can become an expert, you need to determine what your expert topics will be. For me, I mostly tweet about food and agriculture, nutrition, growth investing and renewable energy. It is best not to have more than 4–5 topics because too many will dilute your efforts to define yourself as an expert. Pick your interests based on your professional and personal passions.

2. Download Flipboard and Medium Apps for Content — Flipboard is a smartphone app (a web version is also available) that provides news and content articles sorted by predetermined categories that you choose. This is an excellent source of expert articles on the topics for your specialty. Using Flipboard has two benefits, first you read a lot more on your specialty and literally become more knowledgeable. Second, sharing relevant articles are great tweets that build your standing as an expert on Twitter. Flipboard makes it very easy to share an article on Twitter right from the app. Medium is another great source for content. At Medium, the articles and stories are blogs created by anyone knowledgeable about a topic. These can be even more interesting than published articles at times because they are written by industry insiders.

3. Tweet Every Day — Personally, I try to tweet 2–3 times per day. I have researched when my followers are on Twitter the most (using www.manageflitter.com) and have found that it is best for me to Tweet at rush hour in the morning and early evening, and then my other tweet is usually random based on available content that I find. Most of my tweets are shares of relevant articles that I find on Flipboard, so it is not necessary to try to think up something original two times a day because that would be exhausting. Rather share articles, quotes or other relevant info you find on the web or on Flipboard.

4. Use Hashtags — Hashtags (using # before a keyword) are the best way to get additional readers to your posts. People often search Twitter using hashtags that interest them. So someone that likes nutrition articles might search #nutrition #diet or #healthyfood to find good articles. If you included one or two of those hashtags in your post, they will find your post even though they don’t follow you. That increases the likelihood they will follow you, like/retweet the post or include you on one their lists about the topic. It is an excellent way to build traction beyond your current follower base. However, one word of caution, social media experts have studied hashtag usage and tweet interactivity. They have found that two hashtags are optimal, beyond two the interactivity with a post actually begins to decline. So stick to 1–3 hashtags per post. I always include at least 1 and usually 2 hashtags in every Tweet I post!

5. Follow Back — Twitter is a weird animal compared to other media outlets. On Twitter, there is an etiquette to follow back others that follow you. If you are huge celebrity, you don’t have to follow back and you will still build a huge follower. However, if you are an average Joe, like me, then some people will not continue to follow you if you don’t follow them back. There are a few exceptions to that rule. First, I never follow back anybody that has less than 10 tweets. They are not a serious player and likely will not unfollow you if you don’t follow back. Second, I don’t follow people that post questionable content. You can also mute people you are following too much content that does not interest you.

6. Prime the Pump — In the margin of your Twitter page, there is a “Who to Follow” section. If you click on “view more”, a long list of “potential people to follow” will come up. Note I am very picky about who I follow off of this list. I first try to find people with my interest categories based on their profile descriptions. Then I further refine the search to people that have a similar number of followers and followings. If you see someone with 2000 followers and 50 followings, they are NEVER going to follow you back, so there is no reason to follow them. If you really like their content, then just add them to one of your Lists instead of following them.

7. Use ManageFlitter — I use www.manageflitter.com to manage my following users. It will search through your followers and following accounts and identify anyone that is not following you back. I eliminate all those people from my followings. I do not follow anyone (more than 2 days) that does not follow me back. Now I know you might have some people you want to follow that won’t follow you back. You should manage these people on “Lists” instead of following them. You can create a list on any topic; celebrities, agriculture, photography, etc. You can include interesting people on those lists but you don’t have to follow them to include them on a list. Lists are also another great way to find content that you might want to retweet to your followers.

8. Use a Fun Profile Photo with a Smile or Laugh — I know it seems silly to think that your profile photo could have an effect on the number of followers you gain. However, I have actual evidence that it can have a huge effect. At the end of February, I changed my profile photo from a traditional business photo in a suit, to a casual photo in which I am with my daughters and visibly laughing. I did not make any other changes to my Twitter Strategy during March and yet my new followers exploded in March, increasing 2X the average of the previous several months! Why…I can only speculate that I look more welcoming, fun or interesting in the photo in which I am laughing. Whatever the reason, it is worth a try because my results were dramatic.