Saturday, July 9, 2011

How To Tweet When You've Nothing To Say

As always, these posts are only my own opinions and advice not anything official from Intel.

A lot of people don't get twitter. Some have never tried, but others, you possibly because you are reading this, are trying. One question is, "how does one tweet without discussing what one has had for breakfast or posting drunken pictures of themselves?" Here are a few suggestions to help fix that problem.

The answer is surprisingly simple and amazingly powerful:

Don't tweet about yourself.
Tweet about interesting things you have read or seen.

If you want to be interesting on twitter, give people something interesting to read or to think about. That is very easy to do. Here are four ways:

  1. If you read an interesting article on line, write a tweet that briefly (in 1 short sentence) explains why the article is about or why it is interesting and then gives a link (URL) to the article. Often the headline of the article serves just fine as the explanation.

  2. The resulting tweet might look something like this:
    How To Tweet When You've Nothing To Say:

    Now, if you are paying careful attention, you might have noticed that the link is "short", i.e. not as long as a URL you might normally type into your browser. There are services (web sites) that do this for you, being one of them. Simply copy the web address from your browser. Go to the page. Paste the address into the box. Click the shorten button, Copy the short address from the box and paste it into your tweet.

    If you tweet about articles you find interesting, people who like the same things will begin reading your tweets, because you will become a good source of information for them. That is the ultimate goal on twitter.

    If you follow some of the top tweeters, you will find that many of there tweets are links to other information. It is so important, that there are even tools like twitterfeed that will automatically compose such tweets for you. I don't use such tools, because I prefer to hand select what I send links to, but if you have a blog to promote, it can be a good way to do so.

  3. Copy someone else's tweets. One of the great things about twitter, is you don't have to be clever all by yourself. It is very fair to borrow from others, as long as you give proper credit. The correct way to copy on twitter is to "retweet" someone (often abbreviated "RT"). You can find lots of articles on retweeting, like this one.

  4. The basic idea however, is quite simple. Copy there tweet and add RT @their_twitter_id to either beginning or end. For example, you could retweet my example tweet like this:
    RT @intel_chris: How To Tweet When You've Nothing To Say:
    or this:
    How To Tweet When You've Nothing To Say: RT @intel_chris

    The difference is whether you want to emphasize the source of the content. Whichever you put first will be the first thing people will read and the more likely to be noticed.

    You can also add your own sentiment or commentary when you retweet, perhaps saying something like this:

    Easy ideas RT @intel_chris: How To Tweet When You've Nothing To Say:
    or this:
    How To Tweet When You've Nothing To Say: RT @intel_chris how to tweet links

  5. Tweet a quote. There are lots of sources of wisdom, wit, and whimsy. You probably already have some favorite sayings. It is common to include the "hashtag" #quote to mark what you are writing as a quotation. You may want to include the source as in:

  6. Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before. ~ Mae West #quote
    but some quotes can just be written by themselves:
    To thine own self be true. #quote

  7. Tweet a hello, wave, or hug. Twitter is a social network. Being friendly and conversational on twitter plays a big role. Whole cliques exist where people simply send greetings to each other. Such cliques often start by one person picking out a list of their friends and starting of the chain. After that, if the list of friends is sociable, the messages just keep echoing. The main trick is to make the list long enough that it includes some people who will naturally want to chat, and short enough that there is space left for them to do so. An example might look like this:

  8. @geek8ive @intel_jim @intel_rhonda @intel_stewart @intel_jeff *Waves* Hi -- I'm still on sabbatical and you are working....


  1. Great how-to article. Thanks for posting it!

  2. Anthea, if you are doing these kinds of tweets then you are probably a pro at it, congratulations. If you are blushing, because you've been finding it hard to get started on twitter because you don't know what to say, don't feel bad. We all start that way. There are lots of ways to bridge that gap. However, the key in most of them is "just doing it". Even if you only set aside one day a week and one hour on that day and only force yourself to send out one tweet during that hour, it is a place to start. If you get lucky, you will start exceeding your goals and you will find it fun and do more than you planned. Even if you don't get lucky, the second or third time it will get easier, and then you can push a little harder. Finally, even if you can never find anything to tweet yourself or never get comfortable about tweeting don't worry. There is no wrong way to use twitter and there is plenty of space for people who just listen.