twitter schoolbus: some tricks i’ve found

since i first started the twitter schoolbus experiment, the goal was to create a system that compared with twitter rocket for getting followers.  eventually, i discovered that my method was slow and took a lot of time to build a steady following. at least in theory, twitter rocket could build that following in about half the time.  in particular, it took me about 2 weeks to gain 500 followers on twitter — which was no small feat for me — but it was a time-consuming process.  there had to be a better way.  there is, twitter rocket is a better way.

without revealing all the methodology, i will say that it’s a multi-pronged system that builds your followers using a unique approach each day, to gain followers both in your niche, as well as slightly out of it, to create a well-rounded following.  if you want to use twitter to read people’s updates, and tweet off your own musings, twitter rocket is not for you.  if you want to use it to grow and promote your business, it is.

for myself, twitter rocket has made the process i go through each day much shorter, and automated (yes, i realize that that’s a bad word, but i’ll get to that later) a lot of the stuff i was doing manually.  and the result?  exponentially more followers.  just check out this graph pulled from a screencap from TweetCounter:

twitter-schoolbus1you can see, that, especially in the last few days after building up momentum, my following has increased by multitudes.  i’ve been seriously impressed — the only remaining question is how many of these people really care about what i have to say and how many are just following back.  i don’t know.   but i do know that page hits to this site have gotten a major bump, too, and so have my recent posts, so, that says something.

but this isn’t an advertisement for twitter rocket (it isn’t?).  it’s an addendum, and some tricks for those peeps that haven’t bought it.  see, i haven’t entirely abandoned the twitter schoolbus experiment, and there are some things i’ve found that i like a lot better than some of the things prescribed in twitter rocket.  so here are some of my tweaks and tricks:

finding people to follow

the key to getting followers is to follow people.  a lot of them will follow back.  as long as you find people who may be interested in stuff you are actually interested in, they will actually benefit from what you have to offer and share your tweets and links.

twitterholic sucks for finding people.  unless you’re looking for the top-ranked twitter users, which are essentially useless to follow.  as are their followers.  saying you follow @theellenshow is like saying you breathe.  i’ve been using wefollow.  you have to list yourself in wefollow (you have to list yourself in just about any other directory), but it’s fairly commonly accepted by most tweeps, and does let you search by tag.

then there’s geofollow.  that’s a great tool for finding people in your geographic location.  the interface is slow, however.  you can pull up people in your geographic location in twitterholic because it pulls the top ranking accounts (in which you’ll find me!), so it can be good for that.

another tool i just discovered is klout.  it’s slow to update their stats (about once a week), and it doesn’t index everyone automatically, but when it does, there’s a multitude of information available to you, including you it thinks you’re influenced by (fairly accurate), and, if you’re a major player, who you influence.  there’s also a stats page that ranks how you’re doing, in what areas you’ve been improving, and what you can do to be more of a twitter “persona”.  you can also compare twitter accounts.  check out my profile on klout for an example.  i really like it.  by going into the profiles of people that influence you, and the people who influence them, you can build your following list outward by checking out who follows them and who they follow.  it’s a great way to find new people and see where they are in relation to you and your favorite twitter moguls.

then there’s what started the twitter schoolbus experiment — twitter search.  i still maintain that using twitter search to find tweets in your area of interest is a great way to find people interested in the same things you are.  just be careful if your area of interest is “wordpress” — because of, and some people don’t know about url shorteners, you get a lot of results to people’s blogs.  that may be fine if you’re just looking for people who like and/or use wordpress, but less so if you’re looking for wordpress developers or designers (in which case, possibly following @hashwp or @hashwordpress may be better, or checking those results on

so you want to automate your tweets

besides the obvious, why would you want to automate your tweets? it takes a lot of the work (searching for relevant articles or tweets) out of sharing links that are relevant to your topic.  and there are tools (like twitterfeed) that will take an rss feed and pump it into your twitter stream.  a common method for creating a good feed for twitterfeed is google alerts.  but i’ve found that, for me, google alerts sucks.  it pulls random crap from all over the internet that i find uninteresting and…random.  probably with the perfect combination of search terms i could make things more relevant, but i really don’t care.  i would rather use specific sources i trust anyway.

so, my method is to build a single rss feed for a collection of similar types of sites, and the way i do this is through feedweaver.  feedweaver takes disparate rss feeds that you define and mashes them up into a single rss feed.  you can even filter each feed individually by tag or topic.  this way, i know that not only are my automated tweets coming from sources i trust, but also, they are things that i’m genuinely interested in.  and because twitterfeed is sending out new tweets as the articles appear, the content is always fresh — you won’t get old links that everyone’s seen already.

obviously (unless you want to look like a news-streaming robot), you still want to tweet your own stuff as well, and it always looks better to continue to RT other people’s tweets and links.  also, i don’t like to post a whole bunch of stuff at the same time, so i stagger my links in twitterfeed so that they don’t tweet on the same schedule.  another way to build in some automation (to a point) is using socialoomph (formerly tweetlater).  at first, i felt like tweetlater had a bad rep for being solely responsible for the auto-dm spam i get, and other junk, spam twitter accounts.  the truth is, after using it, that there’s a lot of useful features in there if there’s a human behind the wheel.  and i don’t use the auto-dm feature.  mostly i use it to tweet things…later.  you can schedule tweets for an hour, a week, a month, or any day you want.  this way you can still post something that you want to tweet, but don’t want to tweet right after you just tweeted something else.

that’s what i’ve got so far.  hopefully these tricks help you, too.  and remember to follow me on twitter!