Twitter has the reputation of being fairly simple. That sounds easy. It is not. Twitter still comes with a couple of very useful features and functions that help you get more out of the 140 character conversations. Knowing about these Twitter features and utilizing them will let you get more out of your efforts and help you grow an engaged following.
1. Twitter Polls
Twitter Polls are a relatively new kind of tweet Twitter released in 2015. Before Twitter Polls, many people tried to make polls by counting a like as one answer and a retweet as another and then counting the votes. This was a backdoor solution and not very satisfactory.
Today you can create a poll as a special Tweet, give up to four answer options, select a poll length as the time the poll is going to be active. People can retweet your poll which is then still showing the original poll, votes on the retweets counting for the poll. This is much more comfortable and poses a great opportunity to engage with your followers – or get insights from your audience.
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There are endless options to use Twitter polls in your social media routine, in case you need some inspiration, here are some ideas.
2. Twitter’s Timeline
Especially when you are new to Twitter and still exploring, some ideas and interesting tweets to give you new ideas and directions might be interesting to you. The timeline Twitter released in February 2016 offers you this. If you have not switched it off you may already be familiar with the section „While you were away“ which shows on top of your feed when you log back on Twitter.
While my guess is that large accounts like myself rarely watch their timeline but much rather follow lists or topics, I think this is a good way of getting inspiration and some additional updates in your feed. So far I have not figured out how Twitter decides what to show me, so, in the end, you will have to decide for yourself if the tweets Twitter decides to show you are a welcome addition to your Twitter experience – if not simply switch it off.
3. Mention Tweets
I was a little surprised when I realized how many Twitter users do not fully understand the impact of the different placements of a @mention in a tweet. To get the most out of your Twitter mention, you should be aware of what the @mention does to the reach of your Tweet.
A @mention causes the tweet to show you in the notification tab of the @mention Twitter accounts. These tweets are much more likely to catch the attention of the mentioned account than if they simply show up in their feed.
Mentioning the @mention at the beginning of a Tweet.
These @mentions are for direct conversations or replies. The tweet will only show to yourself, the @mention Twitter account and people who follow you both.
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Mentioning the @mention a Twitter handle somewhere else in a tweet.
These tweets will show you your followers and to the mentioned Twitter accounts. This form is for when you want to make a public tweet but also catch the attention of the mentioned Twitter account.
4. Twitter’s Pinned Tweets
Did you know that you can pin a tweet to the top of your Twitter profile? You may be familiar with pinned posts from Facebook, where you can pin an update to the top of your Fanpage.
On Twitter pinned tweets work in a similar way. They are especially interesting if you have many visitors to your Twitter profile and one special tweet you would like to get some additional attention.
5. Twitter Lists
Personally, I believe that Twitter lists are one of the most important features for a growing Twitter account. Once you follow more than a handful of active Twitter accounts you feed will get crowded, and you are prone to miss at least some of the incoming tweets.
If you now have a couple of Twitter accounts from which you do not want to miss any tweets, you can use Twitter lists: Add all the accounts you want to follow to a list. You can even use lists to sort your followers into different categories or topics. You can now either go to the list feed directly on Twitter, or you set up feeds for the different lists in your Tweetdeck account.
You can even follow lists which other Twitter users created, thus saving you the time to search for the best accounts for one topic.
6. Direct Messages
Twitter’s direct messages are probably one of the most controversial features in social media sphere. However, while you are right that a lot of direct messages are promotional spam, they still offer a great medium to reach out to your followers.
It is up to you to find a message that speaks to your audience. And the open secret is that promotions or sales messages usually are not your best option. Done right direct messages contain a huge potential.
There are tools that let you send automated direct messages to your followers – before you spam your hard won followers, think what kind of direct messages would you read and react to.
There are several places on Twitter where you should work with images:
- Upload an avatar
- Create and upload a header image for your profile
- Use images in your tweets
Do not underestimate the power of images on Twitter!
No one likes to follow eggs, plus and avatar makes you stand out and be recognizable. You can use the header in your Twitter profile to provide a little more information about what you do and what people can expect if the follow you.
Tweets with images get roughly 18% more clicks and over 80% more favorites and approximately 150% more retweets – do you really want to miss out on that? One reason for these stats is simply that in the crowded feed an image stands out far more than a 140 character text.
Twitter Cards are a special form of a tweet where you can attach rich photos, video or media to drive more traffic to your website. You need to add a few lines of HTML to your website, tweets with links to your website will then automatically have a „card“ added to their tweets which will show to their followers.
There are different kinds of cards like summary cards, player cards, and app cards. You will have to choose one type of car, add the right meta tags to your page and after approval, you can see the card showing below your tweets.
More information on Twitter cards can be found on the Twitter blog.
9. Your Twitter Profile
Now, this does not sound like a special function you could have missed, does it? Still, many Twitter users do not fully utilize their profile.
It is important to fill out your Twitter profile with mentioning the right keywords. Many people search on Twitter for accounts on certain topics, you can make sure, you will be listed in the right niche, by paying a little more attention to your Twitter profile.
Also, the Twitter profile can be used to promote yourself or a product in an unobtrusive way. Mention your blog or a featured product and link back.
Click to tweets is not a Twitter function, but it still is a feature that can easily help you drive more traffic from Twitter.
Click-to-tweet is a WordPress plugin that helps you create boxes with ready-made tweets within your blog content. Thus, you offer your audience various tweet text options for one article – and easily get more shares on your content.
Update October 2018:
There is another Twitter feature that you are probably not using. The Twitter advanced search. Many Twitter users search Twitter every day. Still, not many Twitter users are aware of how powerful the Twitter search really is. You can do far more than search for keywords or Twitter names. You can search for keyphrases excluding a word, choose a date range for the search results, search around a location, and a lot more. If you want to learn more about the power of Twitter advanced search, check out this guide!
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