Twittiots: How to Succeed in Twitter Without Really Trying

So Carter came home to me watching the second movie in the Twilight series. Am I ashamed? Definitely. Do you get to judge me? Absolutely not.

Then my sister called and asked what we were watching on TV. I told her we’d just finished Twilight.

CARTER: Tell her that you just finished Twilight. I want no part in this.

ME: Ok, fine. I just finished Twilight.

KARA: OMG, did you like it?

ME: I wouldn’t say I liked it.

KARA: So you loved it, then! I’m so glad! Me too!

ME: No, I wouldn’t say that I loved it. It’s like heroin… I think. I don’t like the thought of doing it. I don’t like actually doing it. But once I’ve started it….I just can’t stop.

KARA: Yea. Twilight is definitely like heroin.

CARTER: Clearly, neither of you know anything about hard drug usage.

ME: And you’re welcome for that!

It reminds me of something that happened to Kara when she was studying abroad in Mexico. She and her housemate bought tickets to the Twilight: New Moon release a week in advance and showed up to the theater an hour and a half early, ready to wait in line for the best seats.

Except that no one came. They were literally 2 of the 20 people in the entire movie theater.

They came home to their house-mother, Mama Melba, who asked them what the movie was about.

KARA: La película era sobre hombres lobo y vampiros.

Mama Melba apparently crossed herself. Or made the Wall-E noise (Oooooooh!). Or something like that. Apparently they don’t Twi-hard south of the border. And more power to them, frankly.

But today’s post is not about Twilight or Twi-Shame or even Taylor Lautner’s abs. This is a post about Twitter.

Ok, but seriously – they could have taken away all his lines and he still would have been compelling. Let me correct that – his abs would still be compelling. As a matter of fact, Taylor Lautner’s body is probably the only and therefore most compelling part of that entire movie franchise. Just sayin.’

I digress.

Today is Post #2 in the series, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” and you lovely people have decided that I should write about twitter for idiots. I’m affectionately referring to this as:

Twittiots: How to Succeed in Twitter Without Really Trying

Don’t worry! We’ll have you tweeting like a pro in no time! 

I’m going to give you the secret of Twitter, my friends.

Are you ready for it?

Are you sure you can handle it?


The secret to Twittering well is that you have to be convinced that everyone cares about the tiniest minutiae of your life – and I mean be truly convinced.

Or, you can tweet like a boss and be convinced of that in a really lazy, tongue-in-cheek sort of way. Which is what I do.

Let’s talk basics.

The first this you need to know is this, the #, formerly known as the “pound” symbol. But if you say that to anyone under the age of 22, they will literally look at you as if you literally have lobsters clambering out of your ears and down tiny stepladders to snuggle in your purse. Literally.

Now, the # is known as “the hashtag” and can be either terribly useful or terribly ironic. Or just terribly used. It all depends. (I’m looking at you, parents of baby Hashtag.)

The # can be used to get your tweet seen by more people. It looks like at this moment, people are tweeting about what to say after sex. I didn’t know this was a big discussion point, but we’ll go with it.

If you want to make sure that your tweet is seen by a lot of people, you should include a # of what’s trending at the moment, if you can. It can be a really useful tool. For example:

I blogged today about objects being larger than they appear in mirrors. #WhatToSayAfterSex

That works. It’s gross. But it works. This, however, doesn’t:

I had a dog named Peanut Butter. He died from a peanut overdose. #WhatToSayAfterSex 

Sure, people will read your tweet. But they’ll probably think of you as being either creepy, weird, or both and write you off. (Even most internet peeps have standards.) To create a hashtag, simply type #WhateverYouWantToSay, only make it whatever you want to say in your hashtag. (It has to be all one word, no spacing though. I learned that the hard way.)

So, it’s a good idea to look at what topics are trending and see if you can reach a wider audience. But if your topic isn’t trending, don’t let that stop you! You can make your own hashtags which, if clever, engaging, or odd enough, can trend! (This has never happened to me, but I did get close once with #30DaysOfThankfulness) 

This is where tagging comes in. If you tweet something, all of your followers will see it. This is awesome, but when you only have a few or few hundred followers in a Twitter world of millions, it becomes less awesome in perspective. This is why we tag people. To tag someone, type @ and then their Twitter name. This means that not only will they for sure see it, but that all of their followers will see it as well. Awesome, right? Yabsolutely.

It helps, when tagging, to be following that person/thing/group. It just makes it easier. Follow EVERYONE. Don’t be discouraged. I only have 294 followers, but I follow 1,258. Huge disparity? For now. I average 4 new followers a day thanks to my following connections. This is important. But there is etiquette involved.
If someone follows you and they are not a porn company or fake Twitter (And unlike Manti Te’o, you’ll be able to tell. Too soon? Too soon? Probably too soon.), you should follow them back. It’s called manners.

But what’s more important, it will expand your network and the people who can and will read your tweets.

Why does this matter? Because you’re doing something called platforming. If you don’t run or have a blog or business and just want to tweet to your hoodrat friends about how your dog ate your underwear, puked them up, and then re-ate the puke and underwear before you could get to him, then you only need to follow and be followed by your hoodrat friends.

But you, my dear bloggers, are not doing this. You are building a brand.

Note: Maybe you’re not. Maybe you just write your blog because you have things to say and it’s ok with you if only your close family and friends read it. But that’s where it will stay, most likely. If you want to build followers and notoriety, you have to do what’s called “branding.” That’s an entirely different post, and if you want me to do it, I will. 

To build your brand, you need to platform. I know that this is the word from which every writer runs screaming and hissing under the porch. Get over it. There’s nothing wrong with name recognition. Your potential publishers certainly don’t think so. The more of a “household name” you become, the more money you’ll make for them. 

Platforming is hard work, it involves a lot of shameless self-promotion. You will occasionally feel that you’ve sold your soul to the devil. You will occasionally feel a little bit like you’re prostituting your sweet little blog. But strap those big girl pants on and do it anyways.

Tweet every single blog post. Post your post on BlogHer or SheWrites and then tweet the link to that, including tags and hashtags to expand your little tweet’s readership.

How did I get discovered by HuffPost Live!? It wasn’t because I post every day or participated in countless NaBloPoMo’s. It wasn’t because I’m funny or because people like to read about my hostile uterus. (Though, let’s be honest – they totally do.)

HuffPost Live! found me because I tweet the shit out of them every. single. day.

Whenever I tweet a blog post, I tag the following people – ALWAYS:

Why? Because the BlogHer people are blogging goddesses. Plus, I like them. And I’m going to BlogHer this summer, so I may as well make friends now. Right? Right. 

I also tweet to:

If it’s really funny, I tweet at @cracked , @jezebel , and any other funny people I think of. I tweet at CNN, The New York Times, and any of my friends who might be interested. Why? Refer backwards to the conversation about tagging. Think of how many people follow Cracked’s twitter, for example. Thousands. And even if only 15 people see my tweet and link to my blog, that’s still 15 people who aren’t in my immediate friends and family group. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Is it a lot like whoring? Sure. But let’s look at The Bloggess. She has a vast Twitter Empire full of tweeting minions. But she worked hard to build it. Not only did she post her blogs to Twitter, but she also posted about funny things in her life and pop culture. She tweeted at people. She started the Ball of Twine Photo Challenge which has blown up, thanks in no small part to Wil Wheaton. (Damn you, Nathan Filion for taking yourself so seriously.) And now, all she has to do is tweet what she had for breakfast and at least 25% of her followers will retweet it. (And that’s a conservative estimate.)

It’s the easiest thing in the world. This brings me to another etiquette point – unless you have a vast Twitter empire, if someone retweets you (RT in Twitter-speak), THANK THEM. Reply to their retweet. It shows that you’re gracious and grateful and they will be more likely to retweet you in the future, expanding that network just a little bit further. What’s more, if you want to be super awesome, you should retweet one of their tweets. You’ll endear yourself to them even more. 

Etiquette is important and people remember it. Bloggers are more likely to comment on blogs where the blogger comments back, and more importantly, where that blogger returns the favor. Same goes for following. We don’t need to be whorish about it – just be polite and do it. The same goes for Twitter. People are more likely to retweet you if you pay it forward. Manners matter, my friends, even when virtually employed.

So what are the highlights?

1. #########! Hashtag! If you can’t find one that’s trending that jives with you, make one up. I hashtag everything (or I do when I remember. This is a lesson for me too, friends.) For example:

I’m gonna Pon Farr you so hard. #weirdestdreamever
— Nested (@NestedBlog) January 23, 2013

You can use hashtags to be funny, ironic, or catch people’s attention. Some of the funniest tweets I’ve read have been made so funny by the hashtags.

2. TAG PEOPLE. Don’t be shy! Tweet to your friends, tweet to your favorite comedians! (But switch up your wording or the Twitter gods will think you’re a spambot and suspend your account).

3. Tweet your life. All of it. People like reality and in our modern times, people also like instant gratification. People WILL retweet funny posts that appeal to them or meet them at the level where they are.

4. Be gracious. Tweet others the way you would like to be tweeted.

5. Don’t be a dick. There are people who have made their fame and fortunes being dicks. And I know that snark is king. But snark won’t be forever. People who are genuinely funny, however, will be. I’m not saying censor yourself – I would never say that. But don’t go out of your way to be incendiary. Just be honest and the followers shall come.

6. You only get 140 characters per tweet. Economy is important. That’s why you should get an account with bitly:       This site will shorten your blog link URLs to tiny little links so that they take up less space. Plus, it keeps track of how many clicks your link generates so you can see how big your internet presence is. Do it. Do it now.

There you have it. I know that it’s a little scattered, but Twitter is a little scattered. C’est la vie, right? If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email or leave the question in the comment box. I’ve done lots of Twitter research and while I don’t know everything by any stretch, I do know some amazingly helpful tips
So tweet away, kittens! Tweet away!

And follow me at @NestedBlog.

Seriously. Follow me. I believe in follow-backsies. And retweets. We can practice our mad, new Twitter skills together!

Happy Friday, y’all!

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  1. Okay, so if I tweet my latest blog post at, say, @shewrites, will they be like “who the F*** is this?” and cut me off or report me to the Tweet Police (and I’m not saying Sweet Police with a lisp, I’m sure those police are not sweet.) It just feels a bit presumptuous. Just seeking clarity before I piss off a bunch of Tweeters. (I do that enough outside the cyber world, so I try to avoid it where I can.)

    • They won’t ever be like “who the f*ck is this?” They’ll either reply, retweet, or do nothing. But if you’re worried about the Twitter police, it’s better to follow them first and then wait for a day or two. The program to catch Spambots tends to be drawn to brand new Twitter accounts that all of a sudden are tweeting to dozens of people. My advice is to start slow and the gradually increase the number of people you tweet to. Also, be sure to tweet occasionally without tagging anyone. It sounds way more scary than it is. No fear! You won’t piss anyone off. It’s twitter. And BlogHer and ShrWrites are the kinds of sites that expect to be tagged by their followers. Now, if you’re constantly tagging Reba McIntyre, you might run into some trouble, haha.

  2. By the way, VERY helpful, Kate – thanks!!!

  3. This is an awesome post! Thanks!

  4. I do all of this when I can. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I have sold my soul for my blog. Hoping they never collect on that one!

  5. Kate,

    Good advice, thanks. I learned a couple of things I’m going to try.

    I’m one of those writers who HATES the word platform, but I do like sharing my thoughts and getting feedback, so I have learned to get over it. 🙂

  6. Oh my god, these tips are… like… what the fuck, it’s fucking good. Okay I’m going to do this. I’m definitely going to do this.

  7. The Twilight Series is definitely like incredibly hard drugs. I read all four books in about three days. I know they’re crap, and I know the writing was god awful, but I just couldn’t stop.

  8. This is awesome advice. I am going to bookmark it and use it as a bible of twitter. Seriously! Thank you~!


  9. I wish Twilight would stop existing. But I still watch the movies every damn time they’re on.

    You’ve got some great Twitter advice. I’ve been using it for years but still don’t use it to its full advantage.

  10. Sometimes, I dream in 140 characters.

  11. i enjoyed this tutorial but i didn’t understand it. i think i’m too old. i think i have to become an actual whore to platform my blog.

  12. Thought I was fairly up on platforming (don’t always do it so well but knew the theory) but I still managed to pick up some tips…Thanks!

    PS Twilight isn’t so bad! I saw New Moon on the first day over here (call me sad if you wish). #ingoodcompany 😉

  13. this is wonderful wonderful! I’m still pretty uncomfortable with twitter, because I feel like I don’t have enough time to dedicate to all of the promoting. But I followed your advice and put my toe in yesterday 🙂

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