Wondering how to increase your reach on Twitter?

Want tips for building your audience and boosting engagement?

To explore the Twitter algorithm and creative ways to interact with others on Twitter, I interview Andrew Pickering and Peter Gartland.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode, I interview Andrew Pickering and Peter Gartland, also known as Andrew and Pete. They authored Content Mavericks, and are known for creating highly shareable content, specifically on Twitter and YouTube. They also have a podcast called The Andrew and Pete Show.

Andrew and Pete explain why engagement is essential to increasing your visibility on Twitter.

You’ll discover different types of tweets Andrew and Pete use to add value for their audience.

Twitter Engagement: How to Connect With People on Twitter featuring insights from Andrew & Pete on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

Twitter Engagement: How to Connect With People on Twitter featuring insights from Andrew and Pete on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

Share your feedback, read the show notes, and get the links mentioned in this episode below.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Twitter Engagement

Andrew and Pete’s Story

Andrew and Pete’s “bromance” started in 2008. They met at university, became great friends, and bonded over their ambition to one day rule the world. Although they planned to run a business together after graduation, Andrew also wanted to move to the other side of the country to live with his girlfriend so Pete decided to move to Newcastle and be the third wheel.

As new, young kids in a big city, Andrew and Pete had no contacts and no customers but wanted to run a marketing company. Although the duo did the things they read about (tweeting, posting on Facebook, and blogging on their website), their online presence was doing nothing. However, in-person networking was bringing them a ton of business.

At in-person networking events, Andrew and Pete stood out as a little bit wild. They threw chocolates across the room and always had party poppers. Soon they became known in their local area as the fun marketing duo.

Andrew and Pete were personable and up for a laugh in person, but their online presence was corporate and boring. So they decided to put what was working for them offline into their social media content. After they began using social media to interact with others and create engaging content, their online presence started to take off. Their content would get shared and people started to know them online.

This was in 2011 when there was only Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Twitter was the one that really suited them best. It was fun, fast-paced, engaging, and quick to use, but most importantly, open. Twitter was like those open networking rooms. They could walk in and say hello to whomever they wanted.

Listen to the show to discover how we met at Social Media Marketing World 2015 and the impression Andrew and Pete made on me.

The Twitter Algorithm

When Twitter began using an algorithm to determine what users see, the algorithm didn’t make drastic changes. That’s because Twitter classifies itself as a news site, not a social media platform, and wanted users to continue seeing timely tweets. Even with the algorithm, Twitter is still the best place to find out what’s happening right now. Facebook is more about what’s happening this week, and Facebook’s algorithm shows you more posts that are older.

To understand the Twitter algorithm, start with the two main elements of your Twitter feed: your main timeline and a new bit called “In case you missed it.” The main timeline is no longer chronological. You might see a tweet from half an hour ago, one from 2 minutes ago, and another from 7 minutes ago. What you see is ranked based on your interests, but Twitter still tries to make what you see fairly timely. Also, Twitter sometimes slips a tweet from someone you don’t follow into the timeline.

The “In case you missed it” section is a collection of tweets that have appeared since the last time you logged in and that Twitter thinks you might find important. If you check Twitter often, as Andrew and Pete do, you rarely see this section.

The goal of these two components in the Twitter feed is to make the user experience relevant and interesting. Most people don’t scroll down very far. They’ll read tweets that appear in the “In case you missed it” section and do a few thumb scrolls.

To make Twitter work for your social media marketing and get the most out of your efforts, you need your tweets to be seen in the more recent part of the feed and get the algorithm’s attention to increase your reach. Then, if your tweet is popular, even people who don’t follow you might see it.

Listen to the show to hear how people initially reacted to the Twitter algorithm.

What Causes a Tweet to Be Seen?

Although the criteria in Twitter’s algorithm number in the hundreds of thousands, Andrew and Pete have broken down what you need to know for social media marketing into six main areas. The first three are pretty easy to understand, and the last three are a bit more complicated.

Time: Twitter sees itself as a live platform so the algorithm weighs time heavily. You need to post regularly, especially when your audience is online. To find out when your audience uses Twitter, try tools like ManageFlitter (which Andrew and Pete use) or Tweriod (a free tool).

User interests: Twitter has a lot of data on you and uses that data to show you content it thinks will interest you. For social media marketers, this means you need to grow a relevant audience. If you’re buying followers or inviting friends who won’t interact with your posts, you’ll have a low engagement rate. You want your followers to be your target audience.

Twitter Analytics gives you a breakdown of your followers’ interests so you can see if they’re the right type of people. Twitter Analytics also suggests topics that will get engagement. For instance, Analytics told Andrew and Pete that their audience likes tech news, so Andrew and Pete started posting about it.

Credibility: Twitter’s algorithm favors accounts that are deemed more credible. To make your profile look credible to the algorithm, fill out all of the details such as your profile photo, bio, location, graphics, and so on. Because Twitter attracts users’ attention to lists in the interface (lists appear with your metrics for Tweets, Tweets & Replies, and Likes), Andrew believes that using follower lists boosts your profile’s credibility, too.

You want to be aware of posts and tactics that users find spammy and will hurt your credibility. Avoid posting broken links, automated direct messages (DMs), or anything that would cause users to report you for spam or abuse.

Engagement: As with all social networks, Twitter wants to keep you on the platform as much as possible. The longer you’re on it, the more time Twitter has to show you ads. The more ads they show, the more money they make.

The most engaging tweets (the ones that do well in your network) are the ones users see, so come up with content that people will enjoy and engage with via comments, likes, and retweets. The more engagement a tweet receives, the more reach the tweet will have.

Engagement is especially important early on because even one comment can expand that tweet’s lifetime. If your tweet doesn’t get much engagement within the first couple of hours, it won’t be shown to more people. Conversely, Andrew and Pete’s tweets that receive a ton of early engagement tend to keep getting more and can last a couple of days, which is pretty unheard-of for a tweet.

Andrew and Pete hope that the algorithm encourages marketers to create more valuable and entertaining content for Twitter instead of just scheduling everything. Think about the effort people put into Facebook posts compared to Twitter posts. On Facebook, marketers spend a lot of time posting amazing graphics, funny videos, and great content. Then on Twitter, they’re just like, “meh.”

Pete adds that engagement can also mean time spent reading or watching your tweet. Lurkers who never comment or retweet but do read everything affect your engagement rating, too.

Past engagement: You see more of the tweets from people you’ve engaged with in the past, so be proactive. Don’t wait for people to reply. Start conversations. When others start engaging back, they’ll see more of your future tweets.

Twitter video is one of Andrew and Pete’s favorite ways to reach out to other Twitter users. The video feature isn’t front and center in the Twitter interface, so video is completely underutilized. When you take the time to send a Twitter video to someone, it blows their mind.

Pete challenges listeners to send a video to a potentially good follower, someone you’ve never really engaged with before. For example, reply with video to a follower’s recent blog link and say, “Hey, I read that blog that you posted. It was really cool. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

Remember, when you engage with people and reply to their tweets, they reply to you, check out your profile, and read your tweets. The more you talk to people, the more reach you’ll have when you tweet. And the more likely they’ll share, comment, and reply. This is especially important if you’re just getting started on Twitter.

Media type: Twitter shows you more of the type of media you’ve engaged with previously. So if you love GIFs, it’ll show you more GIFs. If you love periscopes, you’ll see more Periscope posts. Use more of what works but still tweet with a mix of media types.

To illustrate, if you get a lot of interaction with videos, post more videos. However, because everyone’s different, continue to post a mixture of media types, especially those that are under-represented.

Listen to hear Andrew and Pete compare the Twitter camera to Snapchat’s camera.

Creative Ways to Encourage Engagement

Andrew and Pete challenge listeners to try four different things and see what works best.

280 characters: When you use the whole 280-character limit, you can add more value to your tweets. In languages like Japanese, people are able to say more with fewer characters and use Twitter a lot more effectively because they can have more valuable conversations. Indeed, that’s why Twitter recently increased the character limit. Instead of tweeting a link and your SEO title and telling people to check out a YouTube video or blog post, add value in the tweet itself.

This tactic relates to the importance of past engagement. If you share blog post links that don’t get much engagement, this lack of effort reduces your future reach. Since the character limit increase, how many people have updated their Meet Edgar, SmarterQueue, or Hootsuite account and started to write longer tweets?

For a listicle article, instead of (or in addition to) putting in the link, write out the list in your tweet. In early January, Andrew and Pete created a video about smashing ridiculous goals. In 280 characters, they were able to tweet the YouTube link, title, and thumbnail along with four motivational points. As a result, they had regular and video replies to the tweet, as well as more traffic to their blog.

I ask about the value of tweeting an article introduction and then ending with “read more.” Andrew says an even better approach would be summarizing the whole article in 280 characters and then saying, “read more about each of these points here.” This approach adds more value to your tweet.

Put the value on Twitter, Pete adds, so people don’t have to leave the platform to go to your website. People have done mini-blogs on Twitter, using the extra characters and maybe an extra image or infographic. Use video, too. Summarize every blog post in a 140-second video.

Your Own GIFs: Everyone loves a good GIF. Instead of using other people’s GIFs, Andrew and Pete recommend making your own. With a tool like GIPHY, you can create GIFs and access them on Twitter wherever you are. Their set of GIFs express various emotions, such as “Woo-hoo,” “Oh man,” “Boo,” and “Oh my god, that’s amazing.”

When you use GIPHY, your GIFs are accessible not only to you but also to others, which helps spread your message. Andrew and Pete use a hashtag so their GIFs are easy to find via search, and people have viewed Andrew and Pete’s GIFs 12 million times.

To create a GIF, go to GIPHY.com, apply for a brand channel, and then upload a small video clip or a series of images. You can also use video from YouTube or Vimeo. Creating GIFs has a little bit of a learning curve, but after you know how to do it, it’s a 5-minute job.

Andrew and Pete use their GIFs to express emotion and reply to people, as well as share their content. As an example, this year, they’ve created a GIF about every new piece of content, and this tactic has worked really well on both Twitter and Facebook.

Andrew and Pete also created a GIF for this podcast. Go to Twitter and search for “SocialPodcast in GIFs.”

Although you can create GIFs with Photoshop, a graphics app, or another platform, GIPHY plugs right into Twitter so you don’t have to download the GIF files and then upload them to Twitter. Andrew and Pete create GIFs in GIPHY, tag them #AndrewAndPete, and then search for them on Twitter.

Questions: Ask more questions with your tweets. Twitter can be quite automated or spammy at times, so don’t do that. Be the one others can actually talk to. People struggle to find others who respond to them because so many people automate their tweets. Ask questions, create content that others can respond to, and reply to them.

Whenever someone tweets to Andrew and Pete, they try to ask a follow-up question to keep the conversation going. If you’ve got a lot of notifications, that’s obviously hard to do, but put in the effort.

Frequently, after you share someone’s content and thank them for the article, the creator simply replies with, “Thanks.” Instead, ask a question. Questions lead to conversations, conversations lead to relationships, and relationships lead to trust and sales. Better to reply to one person properly than only say “thanks” to 10.

Emotion: When you automate Twitter (for instance, post links to your blog), the tweets can become bland. Adding a bit of emotion does three things. It grabs attention (because it’s different from everything else), holds attention longer (it typically comes with a narrative), and gives people a reason to feel something for you and get behind you. This feeling is extremely important for brand advocacy.

You can tap into all sorts of emotions. When Andrew and Pete say “add emotion,” people quickly skip to either humor or sadness, but the spectrum is much broader than two feelings. There’s shock, awe, curiosity, being adorable, and nostalgia.

Nostalgia is a big one. Post anything at any time saying “Hey, do you remember when…?” and you’ll instantly get engagement. People love nostalgia. When you post a link to your blog, give others an emotional reason to share.

For example, when Andrew and Pete did a recent post on how to wake up earlier, they didn’t just put up a link. They put in a story about how they were fed up with sleeping in and it’s so hard to get up in the morning. Yet after implementing these few things, they felt much better, refreshed, and energized to take on the world.

Andrew and Pete love using emojis to convey emotion, and you can find an emoji for every feeling. Don’t do this all the time, but if you find something super-funny or super-shocking, add as many instances of the relevant emotion emoji as possible. Try using all 280 characters: add two lines of shocked faces, your tweet text, and then two more lines of shocked faces.

Listen to the show to hear one more challenge from Andrew and Pete.

Discovery of the Week

Wonderlens is an amazing iOS app for creating augmented reality (AR) videos and still images.

If you create stories for your social media marketing, this tool allows you to create stunning creative effects quickly and easily. When you open the app, it detects people via your phone camera, extracts them from their surroundings, and places them in different backgrounds, such as outer space. You don’t need to mask the background or trace around yourself. The app’s ability to autodetect people is amazing.

You can use the free animated or still backgrounds in the app or upload your own. You’ll currently find about 15 free backgrounds in the app. However, with the ability to upload your own video or images, you have the flexibility to try all sorts of creative ideas.

Also, after you compose your background and camera images, you can add text or stickers, arrows, and so on, just as you do in stories.

To see more examples and get the app, go to GetWonderlens.com.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how Wonderlens works for you.

Listen to the show!

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

What do you think? What are your thoughts on Twitter engagement? Please leave your comments below.

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