The secret to being successful on Twitter – and I judge success on the network to mean building a large, positive and strong number of followers, and having the reach to be influential and significant within that group and beyond – is really incredibly simple.
In fact, you only need to be one of three things to make it on Twitter.
- Be famous
- Be useful
- Be interesting
That’s it. We’re done.
Still here? Want some more detail? I wasn’t kidding. Any one of those three states of being will lead to Twitter success – guaranteed. Everybody on the network who matters – and you can measure that by popularity or status (or both), or any which way you like – has one of these traits in abundance. Some lucky folks have two. The gifted and relative few encompass all three. But the good part is that everybody can be one.
The catch is, there’s a bit of a hierarchy here. Twitter is to some extent a level playing field, but there are definitely some advantages when it comes to who you are. If you’re fortunate enough to be a household name, then you won’t even have to work for success on the network. Failing this, be as useful as you possibly can – it’s that little bit harder to make it, but everybody likes a problem-solver. And if you’re not useful, then you better be interesting, and you better be interesting a lot.
So, which will you be?
1. Be Famous
You think @aplusk would have over a million followers if he wasn’t Ashton Kutcher? No, siree. And the same goes for every other famous person on the network, too. Brooke Burke has almost half a million followers. I mean, she’s a lovely-looking woman, but come on. These celebrities didn’t work for that follow count – they simply showed up, and the masses came with them. This also applies to a lesser degree to folk who are famous on the internet, too. If you’ve got a blog with a million readers, get on to Twitter. You’re gonna love the attention. And count your blessings, because you’ve got the easiest route to the top. It doesn’t even matter if you can string a sentence together – the people are gonna love you.
Pros: If you’re a celebrity, being successful on Twitter is simply a matter of signing up. The more famous you are, the more success you’ll have. But even if you’re just a little bit famous, it’ll pay off.
Cons: If you’re not a celebrity, it’s kind of hard to be famous. Move on to section #2.
2. Be Useful
Everybody is an expert on something. If you offer a product or service on Twitter that is fundamentally useful, others will follow you. People will listen to you, re-tweet your submissions and generally pay attention. You don’t even have to be useful all the time – just useful at the right time. Do this enough, and keep giving the people what they want, and you’ll be beating ’em off with sticks.
Pros: If you’re a red-hot blogger, particularly if you write about lifestyle tips, technology, social media or even blogging itself – you’re sorted on Twitter. You’re already probably quite well-known, can easily port across your RSS subscribers by sticking a ‘follow me!’ badge on your site, and it won’t be long before you’re knocking on the door of that exclusive top 100 list. For the moment, at least. In six months, it’ll be the top 500, as spots 1-499 will be occupied by those in category #1, above.
Cons: If the only thing you’re considered an expert about is the unicycle, move on to #3.
3. Be Interesting
So, you’re neither famous nor useful. Don’t panic: just be interesting. Anybody can be interesting. There’s no excuse. In fact, I’ll let you in on the secret: don’t take Twitter’s ‘what am I doing?’ so literally. Sure, every community reserves a spot for the inane, and even the best of ’em write about what they’ve having for lunch once in a while, but if that’s all you do, then it’s not interesting. In fact, it’s downright boring. Keep it real, but keep it dynamic. Share exciting content. Take great photos and Twitpic ’em. Break the news before anybody else. Go crazy and upload that video of you sprawling on a bed in your underwear. (What? – Ed.) Whatever. Just be interesting, and Twitter can be yours.
Pros: It’s actually easy to be interesting – just make the effort. You don’t even have to be ‘on’ all the time – just enough to keep your audience riveted. This can be managed in just a few great tweets per day.
Cons: If you struggle with the written word, and certainly if your idea of a good tweet is ‘alrite m8s hw u dng 2nite?’, Twitter might not your best shot at making it. Sure, there are others like you out there, too many, in fact, and sometimes I really wish that Jack Dorsey had kept the Twttr.com domain active and pushed the vowel-averse that way, but with that kind of prose unless you’re world-famous you’re never going to be successful on Twitter. Tip: Try MySpace or Bebo instead.
Be is a state of mind. Be doesn’t take any of your nonsense – you’re either being, or you are not. Be famous, be useful or be interesting, but please, be something. And mark my words – find which be is right for you, and the kingdom of Twitter, and all the glory that comes with it, shall be yours.