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Who Sees Your Tweets?

Twitter, the frat party of social media sites, is beautiful in its simplicity. Everybody is talking, or tweeting, at once about a myriad of topics. You tweet about ideas, thoughts, images and articles that you think are compelling. You follow other users and see what they have shared. You retweet their posts if you find them interesting. You reply to posts that provoke a comment. You favorite posts you want to refer back to later.
Simple? You would think so. Overwhelming, yes. Useful and effective? Apparently so. But how do you really know who sees what you tweet? Why do you see someone’s tweets if you don’t follow them? How can you increase your exposure in the Twittersphere?

The basic premise of Twitter is that the tweets, or posts, from any profile that you follow will show up in your tweet stream along the right side of your homepage. The more profiles you follow, the more tweets will show up in your stream. The tweets just scroll down the stream like a Wall Street ticker tape. First in, first out. When someone follows your profile, your tweets will show up in their stream. The more profiles they follow, the more tweets will show up in their stream. It’s that simple.

To improve the visibility of your tweets, add keywords that can be found in Twitter search. Obviously, a stream can get quite lengthy, and a user may not scroll down far enough to see your tweet. But they may search on a topic of interest. If you are posting a link to an article on sustainability, for example, and your tweet simply says, “This is interesting”, then your followers may not take the time to find out what exactly is interesting. They peruse their stream quickly for keywords that stand out, or they do a Twitter search. Add the keyword “sustainability” so your followers can hone in on your tweet and so that others who don’t follow you can find your tweet when they search. Add other keywords, like “ecofriendly”, “green”, “environment”, etc, to improve your search visibility. Don’t use a hashtag for keywords.

When someone searches Twitter for the keyword “sustainability”, every tweet with the word “sustainability” will show up in the search results. Any instances of the keyword being used with a hashtag (#sustainability) will also show up. However, if you search for the keyword with the hashtag, then only those tweets with the hashtag will be displayed. The tweets with the keyword without the hashtag will not show up in the search stream. Save the hashtag for phrases and keywords related to a specific conversation topic or event.

For instance, during the presidential debates, searching on “#debates” returned all tweets referring to the debate in progress. Searching on just “debates” would bring in all of those tweets plus any other tweet that contained this word. Note that hashtags are not unique and are not proprietary, so some hashtags may refer to multiple conversations or events.

If someone follows you, they will see your tweets in their stream, and vice versa. If a profile that you follow retweets a post (regardless of whether or not you follow the original poster), you will see that post in your stream, with the underlying note below the tweet stating who retweeted it (the profile you are following.) If you don’t follow them already, you may decide follow the new profile who created the original tweet.

Likewise, when you retweet something, all of your followers will see the post that you retweeted (with the underlying note that you retweeted it.) You have exposed that new profile to all of your followers. Maybe, some of your followers will follow the original poster because of it.

Consequently, when something you post is retweeted, you should thank the profile who retweeted it because, now, all of their followers will see your post in their stream. Maybe you will gain followers because of it.

The concept of retweets as described above is also simple. However, it goes a bit deeper than that.

Following most tweets will be the Expand option. When you click on this option, you can see who, if anyone, has retweeted or favorited this tweet. These will be people you don’t follow. (Remember, if someone you follow retweets something, you will see it directly under the tweet.)

When a post is retweeted, the thumbnail picture for the profile that retweeted it will be shown, and anyone who has clicked on Expand will see it. So, any profile that retweets a post will have the chance to be seen by the followers of the profile that posted the original tweet, or anyone else who has found this tweet in search. (Who’s on first?)

If you click on Expand and view other profiles that have retweeted the post, you may find other profiles that you wish to follow. When you retweet a post, and others click on Expand on that post, they will see your thumbnail picture and may click through to see if they want to follow you. Do you see how retweeting can improve your visibility?

Mentioning another profile also helps improve your visibility. This is done by using the @ symbol before the profile name that you want to mention. When you are typing your tweet and then type the @ symbol, as you start typing the name of the profile, you will see a drop down menu with possible options. Click on the profile you want to mention to make the connection. Your mention in your tweet will then be hyperlinked to that profile. Note that you can only mention profiles that you follow, even if they follow you. In the Whole Foods Market example above, the profile @Method Tweet was mentioned.

When you mention another profile, your followers will see the tweet, just like they see your other tweets.  However, mentioning a profile doesn’t mean that your tweet will show up in their followers stream, but it will show up in twitter search. The profile that you mentioned will be notified, and hopefully respond to your tweet. Then it will show up in their followers’ streams. It will be hyperlinked to your profile, so all of their followers will now have the chance to see the tweet and link to your profile and, ta-da, follow you.

Another way to increase your visibility is by replying to a tweet. It is similar to a mention, except that you put the user name (preceded by the @) at the beginning of the tweet. Only if someone is following both the profile that replies and the profile that is replied to will they will see the reply in their stream.  So, your followers will not see a reply unless they are also following the profile you are replying to.

Just like mentions, no one will see the reply other than the sender and the recipient, unless the recipient responds publicly.

Go Forth and Tweet
Twitter’s simplicity is beautiful. But digging deeper and utilizing these tools and tips will enhance your experience, improve your visibility, and help you grow followers.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.faceitsocialmedia.com/2013/07/who-sees-your-tweets/

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