A few months ago, I asked these funny people to answer some questions. I emailed the questions to them and they were awesome enough to take the time to answer them. I used this material in a presentation I did for Blog U in Maryland. Everyone uses Twitter for different reasons. I primarily use it for humor purposes. I like to tweet little quips and I like to read them, too. The people I am naturally drawn to in the Twitterverse do the same thing. I think of these guys as very successful on Twitter, so I know I was listening closely when they responded.
Many of you are way past Twitter 101. Some of you are actually are looking into some Twitter graduate programs at this very moment. No matter where you are in your Twitter education, I am hopeful that you will find some useful Twitter tips in this post. I had a LOT of fun giving my two cents at Blog U in Maryland, which I, of course, included at the end of each of the questions! I’m also very, very grateful for the input from some of my Twitter favorites- @WilliamAder, @cheeseboy22, @SeanINCypress, @CoatCzech and @curlycomedy. We have been following each other for a while now and I consider them to be at the top of their games. If you aren’t following them, you must. get. to. it.
Here were my questions:
#1 Why did you decide to join Twitter?
@SeanInCypress: He was a sports fan and he wanted to be able to interact on Twitter with a friend of his that is the host of a local radio sports show.
@curlycomedy: She had a friend who wrote a comedy blog that she read regularly that encouraged her to join. She thought Twitter would be a good place to test run her jokes.
@WilliamAder: One of his favorite musicians, Amanda Palmer, was always talking about Twitter on her blog, so he signed up to see what it was about.
@cheeseboy22: “I decided to join Twitter to promote my humor blog. Needless to say, I found Twitter much more fun and addicting than blogging. I loved the instant feedback and laughs from others. Within 6 months of joining Twitter, I completely quit blogging and focused all of my creative energy on writing jokes on Twitter.”
@coatczech: “I joined to follow sportswriters and athletes. That lasted about a week.”
@kelleysbreakrm: I think I started a Twitter account shortly after watching “Last Comic Standing”. They mentioned their Twitter handles on the show, so I followed them. The top two finishers, Felipe Esparza and Roy Wood, Jr., were two of the first people I followed. When they followed me back, I wanted to do a split leap. I remember becoming addicted very quickly to following people who tweeted out original jokes. Taking a Twitter-break always relaxes me, except when I am laughing so hard my stomach muscles hurt. That has happened many times on Twitter!
My all-time favorite tweet was written by @mattiebatslayer quite some time ago:
@mattiebatslayer: Additionally, my sandwich shop would have the Hulk Hogan Hoagie, which might be nothing but yellow cornbread, cheese and mustard.
I know. It’s completely silly, which is why I love it with my whole heart.
#2 How do you decide who to follow?
@SeanInCypress: Reads the last several tweets of someone that follows him. If he sees original thoughts that are funny (and “not too pervy”), he will give them a “test run”.
@curlycomedy: She uses Twitter for professional networking, so she follows people in entertainment she is likely to work with or who could employ her. She branches out to other interesting writers and people who are experts in other fields (social media marketing, design, music, etc.)
@WilliamAder: When he made it to 5,000 mark in followers, he decided he wasn’t going to follow anyone that wasn’t following him. He unfollowed all of the celebrities, including Amanda Palmer. He feels he is too generous with the follow-backs, but that’s because he only reads his Favstar list. “If someone is nice to me, I usually give them a followback. If they’re actually funny, I’ll list them, and that’s when I actually start seeing their tweets.”
@cheeseboy22: “When I first joined Twitter, I followed anyone that followed me first, regardless of the content that they posted. I quickly learned that a lot of people that follow you on Twitter could care less about what you post, they just want a quick follow back. I’ve learned that Twitter is really just a greedy site. Everyone is there for their own self-serving reasons. People can say go to Twitter to be entertained or for news, but really, anyone that tweets is just looking for attention. Either attention for their business or for themselves. You’d be lying to yourself if you suggest otherwise.
All that being said, I rarely follow people first anymore. Occasionally, I’ll stumble across a very funny person that I feel is underfollowed and give them a shot. But, generally, I follow people that follow me first. I base my decision on three criteria: A) They are at least halfway funny. B) Not every tweet is crude or sexual. They have to at least have some iota of cleverness without resorting to dirty jokes on every tweet. C) They retweet others (especially ME!). If someone never retweets anyone else, it shows that they are very Twitter greedy and even if they have 26,000 followers already, I won’t follow them unless I see they retweet. The only exception to this is celebrities. If I am fortunate enough to have a celebrity follow me, I’ll follow him or her back without seeing that they retweet.
By the way, don’t ever think that celebrities are just waiting to follow no namers like you and I. If you are VERY lucky to have one follow you, be excited, but don’t overdo it. You’ll scare them off pretty quickly.”
@coatczech: “I got bored with sports pretty quickly and started following professional comedians. Then I discovered that “normal” people were a lot funnier and original than the professional comedians. Now I just follow regular smart alecks like myself.”
@kelleysbreakrm: I don’t want to follow anyone trying to sell anything. I don’t normally follow anyone who just has a long list of @ messages. I don’t want pervy weirdos in my timeline. Sometimes I don’t know they are that way until I have followed them for a while. I need to actually “clean out” my Twitter feed soon. I like to follow people who make me laugh. I don’t really use Twitter for inspiration, so I don’t normally follow people with a bunch of inspirational stuff either.
#3 What are some of your Twitter pet peeves?
@SeanINCypress: Someone that retweets everything positive anyone says about them. “Hey! Look, guys! This person likes me! Guys, if this person likes me, you should, too! OMG! Look how much these people love me! I am really changing the world here! It feels so good to be loved! Did you see what Jackie from Minot, North Dakota said about my kid’s overalls?? Aren’t I the best tweeter ever? Uh, hello guys?? I’m making magic happen here! Are you seeing this??”
@curlycomedy: People with bad etiquette are never fun. But there isn’t anything that she considers off limits. “Everyone has the right to use the site how they want to, even if that means to troll or antagonize other people. And everyone has the right to ignore, unfollow or block those people.”
@WilliamAder: People who “list” him, but don’t follow. “Also, people who constantly subtweet someone they’re on the outs with or they’ve broken up with. Give it a rest!”
@cheeseboy22: “People that have to make EVERY tweet crude, sexual or profane. The manual retweet is annoying, but I figure at least they are crediting my joke to me. My biggest pet peeve are people that copy and paste my jokes and post them as their own. It happens all the time and there is really nothing I can do about it except call them out on Twitter.”
1) People that have 80,000 followers but only because they follow 80,000 people.
2) Guys who pose as attractive women to get more followers.
3) People that don’t follow me.
4) People who repeat themselves.
5)People that don’t follow me.
@kelleysbreakrm: I’m with @Cheeseboy22 on tweeps that make all of their jokes crude, sexual or profane. I don’t find that stuff funny. That is why I have always loved Ellen DeGeneres as a comedian and people like her. They can make you crack up by just talking about normal everyday stuff. I’m also not a fan of the #FF list that lasts for 27 straight tweets. Also, I think it’s great to have conversations with multiple people on Twitter, but I think if your timeline is nothing but a conversation, it may turn some people away. When having a conversation, I think it is best to @ just one person mostly so that all of your followers don’t see the whole conversation. The @ has to be at the beginning of the message to keep the message mostly between you and the other person.
#4 Where do you tweet from most of the time? Your phone? Hootsuite? Tweetdeck?
@SeanINCypress: “Most of my tweets are inspired by my walk through a typical day. My brain just digests things in a weird manner. So, since most of my thoughts are observational, they’re usually from my phone, or an old modified 8 track player.”
@curlycomedy: Mostly from her phone, since she is always on the go. She saves a lot of jokes on the Notes app on her phone. She uses Hootsuite and Tweetdeck occasionally and sometimes extends her reach by posting from Favstar.fm. She logs onto her PC to get on Twitter when she needs to make changes to the interface.
@WilliamAder: Since the beginning, he’s tweeted directly from the Twitter website, using a PC. “I’m a dinosaur!”
@cheeseboy22: “I’m pretty unique in that I don’t own a cell phone. I’m old school. I tweet from a laptop straight from Twitter.com. I prefer my Twitter straight up, no filtered.”
@coatczech: “I’m old school, so I like to tweet on a stone tablet that I bury in the ground to be discovered in a couple thousand years or so. Or if I want to be heard more immediately, I use my phone, iPad or laptop.”
@kelleysbreakrm: I tweet mostly from my iPhone. I forgot what my laptop and desktop look like.
#5 What is your advice to a new person that just opened a Twitter account?
@SeanINCypress: Do not follow professional comedians, actors, etc. and expect them to be funny or interesting. You’ll be severely disappointed.
@curlycomedy: “Do whatever you want! The more you use it, the more you like it. If you want to build an audience, decide what your account is all about, follow like-minded folks you will want to engage, create good content and post regularly.”
@WilliamAder: “I can only speak to the people who plan to do original humor on Twitter, since that’s the Twitter I’m a part of. I started off following people like @PattonOswalt. I’m ashamed to admit I even @’ed jokes to him. Aagh!! I finally figured out that guys like him had no reason to follow someone like me. Then I realized that I could look at a list of people who followed him. Aha! These are people who enjoy humor. So, when I had 25 followers, I followed people who were following him who had maybe 100 followers. Those are the people who might follow you back, and many did. Plus, I discovered that a lot of those people were every bit as funny as @PattonOswalt in their own right; they just weren’t ‘professional comedians’. Pretty soon, you’re part of a community of people doing humor for each other.
Join Favstar. Giving someone a trophy gets you noticed. That’s kind of crass, but it works. It also lets people know you’re serious about doing humor on Twitter and you think you have something to offer.
Be authentic when you tweet. Yes, you can make up situations, etc., but the voice you tell the joke in has to be your own.
Do format jokes. They are a tried and true framework upon which you can hang your original humor. A lot of people leave the format jokes as they become successful, but I still do ’em ‘like a boss’!
@replies are tricky. Everyone likes to be complimented, so those are okay, but keep even them to a minimum when you’re starting out.
Be respectful of everyone.
Oh, and ditch the egg avi right away!
@cheeseboy22: “My advice for a new person would be to be PATIENT. You are not going to suddenly become popular overnight. It has taken me nearly three years to get 16,000 followers. When I first joined Twitter, I thought it would be like a pyramid scheme. I thought, ‘If I get retweeted by 3 friends and those friends retweet my tweet and so on and so forth, within a week, I should have like 2,000 followers!’ Well, just like pyramid schemes, that’s not really the case. Millions of people are not just going to follow you because they see someone has retweeted you. If you are after followers, you must be patient. Only celebrities generally gain followers at an extreme rate.”
“Don’t waste your time trying to get celebrities to follow you. It’s not going to happen. They’re not all that interesting to follow anyway. Just pick some random stranger and follow. Like this @CoatCzech guy, for instance. He seems pretty cool.”
“If I find something clever or funny, I favorite. If I spit soda on my monitor because I’m laughing, I retweet. Only reply if you have something interesting to add. Don’t reply ‘ha ha’ or ‘lol’. If it was really that funny, just retweet it.”
@kelleysbreakrm: Don’t give up. You might feel like you are talking and no one is listening, but slowly people are going to start listening, especially if you are diligent about writing original and/or funny content. If a tweet you wrote doesn’t get a lot of “stars”, it doesn’t mean that people didn’t read it or that people didn’t like it. There are a lot of people on Twitter who don’t use the favorite option and don’t see the importance with it. You keep being you. I would also check out Favstar.fm. It is a great, great site for finding people who love humor on Twitter and are serious about sharing the star love. You could stay in the Favstar site forever, so beware!
#6 Has Twitter provided opportunities to you that you wouldn’t have otherwise had? (I asked the question and wanted them to be honest. Bragging allowed!)
@SeanINCypress: He says that he has had some opportunities from Twitter that he wouldn’t have otherwise had. “I’ve made some friends that are big shots, I guess. So, in that sense, I’ve been able to do some pretty cool stuff with them. “I think the weirdest thing are the surreal moments. I remember one day Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles and Catherine Bach, the original Daisy Duke, followed me within a few minutes of each other. They both sent me direct messages saying that they loved reading my tweets. I remember thinking that if 14-year-old me would have known that one day I’d be sending silly DMs with either of them, my head would have exploded. So, acting stupid with some of the people I’ve liked for a long time has been the most unexpected thing, I think.”
@curlycomedy: She has grown an audience, gained writing and performing jobs, a job in social media and she now offers a comedy workshop about Twitter at the People’s Improv Theater (now in its third year).
“Twitter has provided me an opportunity to have my humor heard by people who are far removed from my ‘real world life’ adn for that alone I’m grateful. Were I a younger man (I’m 61), with ambition and drive, I guess I could parlay that into some kind of paying ‘gig’, but I have never understood how a joke could be worth money.
For the past 27 years, I’ve ben the Parish Administrator at a church here in St. Louis. So, on Friday afternoons, I’m making the Sunday bulletins and, without Twitter, that’s all I’m doing. WITH Twitter, I’m making the Sunday bulletins here in St. Louis while Ellen DeGeneres’ Executive Producer @andylassner and @DeboraPuette (who’s guest starring on NBC’s “Revolution” this week) are retweeting one of my jokes to their show business friends. Were I actually in L.A., I’d probably be parking their cars, with instructions to not make eye contact with them, much less tell them jokes. Twitter breakds down, shatters, that class barrier.
So, if Twitter’s offered me an opportunity, it’s an opportunity to be heard by people I admire and respect, and who can ask for more than that?”
@cheeseboy22: He has had lots of fun with Twtiter, a chance to mingle with a few semi-celebrities (and some big ones, I’m sure!) and has had his jokes featured in both Redbook and Reader’s Digest.
@coatczech: He has been offered a job from a local magazine from someone that read his Twitter feed. He has also had the opportunity to interact with celebrities, which would not have happened if it weren’t for Twitter.
@kelleysbreakrm: Most definitely. The first time that I knew that Twitter paid off was when NickMom contacted me to write for their site back in 2011. This was many, many months before NickMom was even known as “NickMom”. I had written a random tweet about “Tears For Fears” that one of the editors (she’s here at Blog U!) happen to come across when doing a search for “Tears For Fears”. Since then, I was featured on Mashable‘s 2013 “17 Funny Moms on Twitter” list and I have appeared in the Huffington Post’s “Best Parenting Tweets” list several times. One of my tweets was also read on The Steve Harvey Show in May 2014 by Steve Harvey himself!
Twitter has also been a fun experience when you see people like and retweet your stuff. I love what @WilliamAder said about Twitter breaking down class barriers. It is a super exciting thing to write something that people in media, comedy, TV shows, news channels, etc. read and appreciate- if only for a split second!
Here’s the deal: I don’t necessarily think Twitter brings tons of TRAFFIC to my blog. I don’t inundate my timeline with links to my blog posts. I know I hardly ever, ever click on links when I’m on Twitter. I don’t go to Twitter to leave Twitter to read posts. I go there to laugh at my timeline. I go there to see what witty thing someone has said. I go there to retweet and favorite tweets. I still think that Twitter is very valuable to a blogger because it gives you another outlet with which to reach people and to show them what kind of writer you are within 140 characters. Many times people want to check out your blog after checking out your timeline. I think brands also like to see an active Twitter account. If you fill your timeline with nothing but sponsored content, however, people will tire easily and leave. The bottom line is that you will lose followers all the time, because there is no way to please everyone and people can be very finicky. You can’t worry too much about it, but you can make adjustments that will improve your time on Twitter.
I think all of that is pretty awesome, don’t you? I loved this quote from William Ader:
*While at a Baltimore historic site just after the Blog U convention, I got stopped by a park ranger who thought I was exhibiting suspicious behavior. I believe he thought I was a terrorist. Read more about that embarrassing story here, where you can also learn more about the Star-Spangled Banner, including the fact that it was originally opposed by some given that they thought of it as a drinking song. A drinking song!*