engage others on twitterTwitter is a unique social network, it can serve so many purposes, from hobby to business, entertainment to education. There are no ‘formal’ rules of engagement on twitter, not that other social sites have them, but twitter is special, it’s an adventure waiting to be explored, wide open and yet full of cliques and niches, each one wanting to be discovered. The key to success with twitter is engagement.

That means YOU need to become someone who engages others.

A lot of people, especially new twitter users (tweeps) are primarily focused on their follow count. Obviously a major goal to success with twitter is a large following. But first decide to get your focus off your follow count. It’s not the bottom line right now. There are a whole lot of shortcuts to gaining followers and I don’t recommend any of these methods, they are sure-fire distractions. I would much rather have a true following, than ten thousand ‘bots’ and ‘follow-backs’. If people have just followed you back out of obligation, or one of those promoted “I’ll follow you back” accounts, they probably aren’t genuinely interested you, and likely aren’t paying attention to your tweets. Don’t focus your energies on building followers, but rather on engaging the followers you do have, and the people who you are interested in.

It’s time to be pro-active and start building some twitter relationships. Here are a few tips.

1. Don’t wait for others to engage you. Your twitter success starts with you. If you want people to follow you, you need to be the one who initiates some conversations. Just watch your twitter stream (assuming that by now you are following people you are interested in), someone is bound to ask a question, maybe you know the answer? Try to share valuable information with people, and not just your information.

2. Promote Others. Make it a rule of thumb; promote others three times more often than you promote yourself. Retweet, mention, and comment on others! Do not get consumed with self-promotion, or tweet only what concerns you and your blog. Others will realize you’re in it just for yourself quickly. If you’re not responding or engaging on twitter, people will start ignoring you pretty quickly.

3. Ask questions. You don’t know everything (yet), so ask some questions. Create conversation! It is likely people that follow you will be eager to answer. As you develop relationships you will find this can be a valuable resource when you need advice, tips or help. You can also gain followers by asking questions, if you use a popular hashtag in your question, it is likely you will be found in search and replied to by someone who is not yet following you. Engage them well and you may yet win another loyal follower.

4. Be human! Share some emotions, humor, or personal experiences. Be aware of what your followers are interested in, and share real tweets. Don’t become dependent on automation. Automated tweets are useful, but if you start coming off like a robot people will figure it out. Remember, twitter is not facebook. Some of your ‘personal’ tweets may not fit well here, I guess that depends on who your followers are. You can’t automate a real conversation, so you have to be present to really engage on twitter.

5. Say thank you! If someone retweets you, or promotes your material. Then say thank you! Mention them publicly, and tell them why too. Be creative with your thanks, people will really appreciate this and it will of course encouraging them to mention you again!

6. Leave some room. A lot of people are still faithful to twitter’s native retweet method (with the letters RT and a @ mention), so if you want to get retweeted, make it easy on your followers and leave some space. 140 characters isn’t much, but even still try not to use it all.

7. Mention your top engagers! If you really grasp the concept of being an engager on twitter, than you’ll probably like the idea of rewarding those that engage you with a friendly mention. Well there is a fantastic application you can use called Follow Friday Helper. Use this tool to identify the followers that have engaged with you the most recently, perhaps those that have mentioned you or retweeted you. These are the people you want to pay special attention to, and continue to invest in developing these relationships. Use Follow Friday Helper to give them a special hello, and thank you.