Are Your Twitter Efforts In Vain?

Are all your Twitter efforts in vain? This is a guest post by Leo Widrich from BufferApp.

When I joined Twitter as a super late adopter, just under a year from now I had some strange views.

For some reason I thought that whatever I posted will be seen by everyone, every link will be clicked by all followers and at least half of them will Retweet my tweets, because they are so awesome.

Turns out, that’s not how it works. Gladly those naïve views above where I thought everything is about me and what I post have faded, more about that later.

Just a few days back I made some interesting observations as regards Twitter, Clicks and Retweets. Someone “big” with about 100,000 followers retweeted one of my posts and I was “whoa” this must get a LOTTA clicks now right? Turns out, he got 6.

This appeared very strange to me, knowing that my own tweets get between 10-15 clicks each, which isn’t much either, yet I have 1% of the amount of followers he had.

What’s going on here? Just an outlier and usually he does get 100’s of Clicks?

Or wait, aren’t we asking the wrong question here?

What means being successful on Twitter?

Someone once said to me

“Thinking that your follower count and number of Clicks defines your success on Twitter is so 2008”

And I couldn’t agree more. Of course at some point you will worry about the number of Clicks, as it means traffic for your site and eventually money in your pockets, but as the first and foremost reason to be on Twitter? No, I don’t think so.

What I learnt that really defines success on twitter is something else. To me it is answers to these questions:

  • How many great conversations have you had today on Twitter?
  • How many people have you helped today via Twitter?
  • Whom have you met or reached that you couldn’t otherwise have reached?
  • How many people have you brought together today?
  • How much truly great content have you provided for your followers?

It is answers to these questions that makes Twitter awesome I believe and in short comes down being expressed with the much talked about term “engagement”.

And what’s really interesting about that is the fact that all the other effects of more followers, more clicks and more retweets will come by itself. You don’t have to be self-promotional all the time.

Mack Collier, one of my favourite blogger’s expressed it in this way:

Don’t share content to get on someone’s radar, share content because it’s amazing.

Lead interesting conversations, help others and everything will come by itself. And the best part? Focusing on others and helping them is much more fun than focusing on number of Clicks and Retweets.

Klout vs your Brain

This is why the hotly discussed topic of Klout or Peerindex is something very important I think. Without regards to how well their algorithm is, I feel that making an effort to create an output different to the sheer number of followers is extremely valuable.

It lets us drift away from the mantra that all we need is followers and helped me greatly to develop a new mindset which focuses on something else far more important: the people involved.

To drive this argument even further, simply observing and intuitively feeling how well you are doing on Twitter based on how much fun you have might still be the best thing to do. Let your brain and your original feelings tell you what you have to do more, it works better than I ever imagined.

How to be more successful on Twitter

Putting the above into practice here are a few techniques I am using to be successful and to get answers to the mentioned questions:

1.) Make your Tweets stand out

One of the things I have started to do heavily is to give my Tweets a unique face. Instead of tweeting the post title and link try finding a great quote from the passage and copy this one in your tweet alongside the link.

In this way you won’t be the 290th Retweet of title and link, but it will be filtered news you provide for your followers.

2.)  Give the author credit

I am a huge advocate of doing this. Whenever there is a great post you are reading and you feel worth sharing, why not give some love back to the author? This shows your followers you have really engaged with that blog, giving them a sign of personal reference.

Especially combining 1 & 2 works really well I believe.

3.) Say more than “Thank You”

This is another way to boost the amount of daily new connections and relationships you can build. Whenever you get a Retweet or @Mention from someone, go that step further beyond the usual “Thank You” note.

Check out what they are doing. Take a look at their website and find something you can relate to and then most importantly: tell them that. It is a great way to learn more about the interesting things others are doing and on the side you are building a strong followership too.

So are your Twitter efforts in vain?

Over to you now: What are the steps you are taking to succeed on Twitter? Do your terms of “success” differ to mine? I would love to discuss it with you below.

Leo Widrich on SocialMouths Leo Widrich is the cofounder of, a Twitter App that allows users to schedule tweets easier than other scheduling Apps you might know of. As he focuses on getting Buffer off the ground, Leo writes and gives Twitter Tips at Leon loves to connect and build a relationship with new users. Don’t hesitate to say Hi.

  • In regards the the 100K follower tweet, you have to look at whether that user is actually influential or if he just bought / automated followers, if the time they tweeted your link is most popular for their followers, and if the topic of the tweet was in line with what their followers are interested in. All of those lead up to whether a tweet from them will be valuable or not.

  • I think you have summed it up with “How much truly great content have you provided for your followers” we are all different and will all have our niche likes and dislikes, getting twitter followers who are similar to you and like the stuff you tweet about is I think essential if you are to keep them with you for a long time. I also think you need to truly be yourself, so they get a hint of personality along with sharing great things.

    I tend to tweet about design and arty stuff, my followers are growing. I tend to only post really high quality things that I find and like. I also on a night chuck in a youtube song I like every so often.

    Quality and relevance I think is essential – another good post!


  • Hey Leo,

    Awesome post and great tips for using Twitter. Heck those are so good, they can apply to all social outlets. I wrote a post today along the similar lines that you outlined. If you get a chance, check it out.

    Also, It looks like your Buffer app is taking off and kicking ass. Does it have the ability to send thank yous to people who follow you? I currently use HootSuite (sorry), but would like to have the feature I mentioned, because, I genuinely appreciate any follows that I get. I’m still surprised I have have any.


  • @leo
    Twitter has been an amazing learning ground. Initially it was more broadcast and no conversation. The reason was that we were scared to talk but then someone advised me tht be normal and talks as the way you do in your routine life. Now we converse and less of broadcast with recommendation too. As Kevin Muller says that don’t wait for tweets to happen, don’t be scared to talk to big people but we also make sure that we are not doing for the heck of doing it. We find the 140 words quite a challenge and we love it like your posts 🙂

    Keep Rocking,

  • Kristi, thanks a lot for your comment.

    Yes, I think you are absolutely right with that. It is all about how influential and how “honest” his followers were gained. I have a feeling not too organic in this guys case ;).

  • Dave, thanks a lot for your kind words and for wording out your thoughts here.

    Yep, great point, being your personal and honest self is what will persist at the end of the day, so you better start with it right away.

    That sounds like a really great strategy you have there and the occasional video will definitely freshen up your tweets.

    Glad you liked the post! 🙂

  • Brad, awesome, glad you found the post useful!

    Ah for sure, will definitely head over to your post after this, thanks for the heads up.

    Thanks for the kind words about Buffer. Oh no worries, Hootsuite is awesome! I am an avid Tweetdeck user myself so I think Buffer really rather complements then is an “instead of Hootsuite” tool. Hope you will check it out!

    Oh, no certain “thank yous” are curently not available to be sent, yet our latest feature is a Buffer button next to the “retweet” button on if you install the chrome extension! I think you can achieve a similar thing with it! 🙂

  • Prasant, as usual it is my great pleasure to see you here!

    Oh, that’s interesting. I made the exact same experience! I was way to scared at the beginning and only slowly got into opening up more conversations! Glad you are through the same thing and are embracing conversations more now! 🙂

    yea, absolutely! If you are honest and open you can approach anyone on Tiwtter, that’s the great thing.

    Awesome, really thankful for that man! 🙂

  • I’ll flat out admit… I suck at Twitter.

    It’s something I’ve been a wuss to adapt to. I mean yeah, I use it and share awesome links I find there but I’m being the shy kid when it comes to going there and actually talking to people and starting conversations like you said.

    I’ve even been lame about giving thank you shout outs and so I’m glad I came here today and saw you again doling out your awesome Twitter wisdom because it serves as another reminder to embrace this medium that so many people enjoy and build relationships on.

    PS. Still being a wuss about trying out buffer too, sticking to what I know (social oomph) in the interest of speed. But the universe is telling me something. I keep running into you! Hahaha

  • Dwmatty

    In a nutshell, yes, my Twitter efforts are in vain. I get next to nothing in return for my tweets. Of course with 12 hour shifts at work, I don’t have the luxury of being home all day and interacting with others on social media. The little bit of time I have for tweeting my posts gets me virtually no blog visits from them.

  • Hi Dwmatty.

    Yes, you are right, there is no tangible thing we can get in return for our tweets.

    Oh I totally get that. Have you tried scheduling a few tweets yet whilst you are at work? Maybe that could help to bring a consistent pattern?

    Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  • Lewis, thanks for your comment.

    Oh, I totally feel you. It can be really hard at the start to begin creating relationships and just starting out.

    Yep, definitely give it a shot Lewis, after all what can happen? Let me know how you get on, would love to hear how it worked out.

    Ah, haha, no worries, whichever tool works best for you will be perfect! If you ever give Buffer a go, do give me shout, would love to hear your views on it! 🙂

  • This is what I’ve found to be true through my own interactions on Twitter as well as reading marketing/social media books and blogs. Engagement is key, especially engagement that doesn’t expect a return on the favor!

  • it is the key @Ashley and one of the most challenging thing to do as we are so different in liking and disliking something. don’t u think so? but yeah that’s the fun part of being social

  • @Dwmatty I am not an expert as Leo is but 2 cents on ur problem. Even i tweet lot and thankfully I can manage my work and my passion with the help of hootsuite and buffer. Hootsuite gives me all the happening in one shot. And the buffer my new love takes care of my tweets when I am sleeping. So try what suits will get response for your tweets when you talk to them as you normally do to friends in your daily life. Start talking to them, find out your bunch of people and find new ones too and one advice limit broadcasting your tweets about your posts. Do but don’t do only that.Hope it helped and keep tweeting 🙂

  • I think a lot of people don’t understand Twitter because they see it as an information stream rather than an engagement platform. But once you start focusing on conversations, you get a lot more out of it.

    When I first started, I found RTs very confusing. I wasn’t sure who to credit (post author, site name, tweet curator), where to put their Twitter IDs, etc. But then I started asking for advice from a true expert: @AskAaronLee. He encouraged me to credit everyone who enabled me to find the Tweet in the first place. So now that’s exactly what I do. Sometimes I have to do a quick search to find a guest blogger’s Twitter ID to give them credit, but that’s well worth the great conversations it can start.

    I think your definition of Twitter success is spot-on Leo!

  • Great post, thanks. Been reading a lot about this very topic…my takes: stay true to yourself, don’t worry about the #s (followers, that is) because quality is more important than quantity, add value- e.g., don’t repost every Mashable article, yes – give credit where credit is due – and, finally, it should be FUN (meaning you’re following people with like minded interests – plus others outside of your zone who give a totally new perspective – like the guy with the muscles who just followed me with a 60 klout score and a really interesting perspective on life!) It’s an art, not a science! Thx again, Francisco.

  • macrose

    Twitter can boost the daily amount of new connections which can be really very important for today. Twitter will interacts with social media books and blogs also.
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  • Hi Ashley,

    Thanks for stopping by, you are absolutely right, it takes time to realise that and eventually we just gain joy without any return on it!

  • good point there Prasant, what brings us together are our similarities, where we are different, doesn’t matter so much after all! 🙂

  • Hi Macrose, you are very right, it teaches us a ton about new connections doesn’t it!

  • Susan, thanks for taking the time to word out your thoughts.

    Absolutely, at the end of the day, if we are not enjoying ourselves, we are doing something wrong! 🙂

    I like that a lot “it’s an art, not a science”, and everyone will get the feel for what is right and wrong. 🙂

  • Hi Marianne,

    Ah, yes, glad you point that out. Sometimes I like to believe we are over that explaining that it’s all about the engagement, but you are absolutely right, a lot of people still have trouble seeing it.

    Oh absolutely, Aaron is definitely the right person to speak to! He knows a ton of interesting stuff and this piece of advice makes a lot of sense.

    Well done on implementing it so carefully Marianne, I think a lot of people can learn from you on this.

    Awesome, glad the definition is suitable for you! Hope to speak some more soon! 🙂

  • Leo, really sound advice and Francisco your guest posters are outstanding

  • Coy, thanks for the kind words, glad you liked the post.

    Yes, it was actually an awesome guestpost on Social Media automation here that made me pay eager attention to SocialMouths, Francisco is doing a very fine job indeed! 🙂

  • I was doing more on Facebook than Twitter but today may have changed all that. Facebook started this annoying thing where when you’re using it as your biz page and want to click through to a link, you have to first “switch back to” your personal profile before it will take you to the link. Well, I’m not gonna do that every time. So, won’t be clicking through so much and will be switching to Twitter. As it is, I use Twitter to sign in to blogs and comment, since I can do it as my biz and not have to use my personal profile. See you on Twitter! Signed, Donna from @InTouchPromos. 🙂

  • P.S. I retweeted and am following you now on Twitter. Didn’t share via Facebook because I’d have to share it as my personal, not my biz page, and my personal friends could care less about Twitter.

  • Thanks for sharing my post and yes I agree this is quite tedious.

    I am a big Twitter fan too!

    Definitely, hope to speak some more over there too! 🙂

  • Mark Underdown

    Twitter is a mindset. You just have to jump in, give it a go. There are some basic rules of etiquette and security that it’s worth knowing but don’t listen to anyone that says “you must use it like this or that”. Find your own way. Experiment. watch others. It’s all part of the fun not knowing where you are heading.

  • Hi Mark, thanks for your contribution here, and well put. It really is about finding your own way, as this is all that counts on Twitter 🙂

  • Love the original post by Leo, and found my own thoughts nicely summarized here by Susan ! As a newcomer to Twitter, I so look forward to “stay true to myself” and find other exciting folks.

  • Great post Leo and I found it just at the right time.

    Okay, I do the majority of what you mentioned but see that there is still room for improvement. I have been putting my own words in with the retweet but still leaving the title of the post. I love quotes so that’s a great idea. I also thank everyone for having mentioned me or retweeted my info so you are right, I can go a step even further.

    My proudest moment is when I met a lady on Twitter, we DM’ed back and forth & then made plans to have lunch. Knowing we would not be business partners, I went anyway. I then realized that she was the stepping stone to helping another lady I also met on Twitter. I connected those two ladies and they are now working together. I’m so happy I went and it all worked out for the best. All because of meeting on Twitter.

    Thanks for these tips, will definitely be putting them into play.


  • Hi Adrienne, thanks for your comment.

    Glad most of the above is not new to you, it is just like you say it will help a great deal to make an effort on providing your own copy!

    Wow, that is an amazing story there, and it is fantastic to hear that you brought two people together with this! I am sure it will still pay off greatly in the future, although you have already won and achieved a great thing right there! 🙂

    I hope to speak some more soon Adrienne, there is much to learn from you, thanks for sharing your story here! 🙂

  • Ameya, thanks for your comment, yes you are right Susan already made some great points here. Definitely, following the “stay true to yourself” will help you greatly! 🙂

  • Dtfwriter

    All good information. Thanks!
    I’ve been learning, watching & reading tips on social engagement. “Social Media 101” by Chris Brogan got me started. Too many robots on Twitter. I never auto follow but look for mentions, reply messages & DMs. When I see a real person, sharing quality links, chat and good manners then I’m interested.

  • Hi there, thanks for the comment.

    Yes, very well put, optimising, but not automating is key! I like to take the same approach as you, checking people out and seeing their quality of tweets and then considering to follow 🙂

  •  Leo, wonderful post as always. When I use buffer, I definitely like to add in the author in the Tweet. Also when someone RT’s my stuff, I ALWAYS say thanks. Even if I had a following of 10,000 I think I would still say thanks. 

  • Nice post, Leo! Quality vs. quantity – it’ll never change!

  • I admit, i have been obsessed by the number of followers. But as of late, it’s been about the quality of my followers and the people i am following. Now, my articles actually get tweeted. It was sureal at first. But it makes sense. I tweet my twitter friends and they do it for me to their followers.  It’s reciprocity at it’s best. I hated twitter before, but now i love it and i ‘ve met some wonderful people. Like minded people.   

  • Hi Benny, great to see you here buddy! 🙂  

    Awesome, glad you like that one too! 🙂 Absolutely, it shouldn’t matter even if your followership grows. Oh and perfect you are using Buffer for it of course 😉 

  • Hi Benny, great to see you here buddy! 🙂  

    Awesome, glad you like that one too! 🙂 Absolutely, it shouldn’t matter even if your followership grows. Oh and perfect you are using Buffer for it of course 😉 

  •  Hi Ashley, absolutely, it always does, doesn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! 

  •  Hi Ashley, absolutely, it always does, doesn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! 

  • Hi Annie, 

    That is a fantastic story of yours and perfectly suited to share in a blogpost if you haven’t already done so. Absolutely, minding the people and what they are doing is all that counts, not followers. 🙂

  • Peter Zmijewski

    Thanks for shearing such a nice information about the tweeter, its really a good tips.

  • Anonymous

    What a great article and really interesting comments too. I wish I had read read this a couple of years ago.

  • Just found this post–thank you  @twitter-110821538:disqus.  It was a very useful post for someone who is new to Twitter.  Viewing it as an engagement platform, as opposed to a mere information stream is a great point and one that I will take to heart.

    I have been thinking of my company tweets as a way to get information out to my customers and prospects, but now I will view it as a way to connect these people with each other.

    Now I just have to get some followers.  🙂

    PS–Thanks for your quick responses to my questions about as well yesterday.  Very refreshing to get answers right away, as opposed to staring down the big black hole of nothingness.

  • When I joined Twitter as a super late adopter, just under a year from now I had some strange views.

  • Or wait, aren’t we asking the wrong question here?

  • When I joined Twitter as a super late adopter, just under a year from now I had some strange views.

  • What I learnt that really defines success on twitter is something else.

  • Or wait, aren’t we asking the wrong question here?