A Day In Tweets: as seen from the Netherlands

Have you seen any infographics or other stats about Twitter usage lately? If you’re on Twitter or in the habit of reading blogs, or both, the answer is probably yes. Are any of these stats true? Again, the answer could be yes – but…

The truth is that Twitter usage (when, for what) has similarities no matter where you are. But there are some outside influences on why we do what we do when we do it

A day in tweets is not just about Twitter

Twitter usage through the day

  1. The timezone issue (certainly);
  2. Cultural differences (possibly);
  3. Corporate culture (no comment);
  4. Family life (if you value it).

I could start by giving you some theory on these three causes, but I think it’ll be more helpful if I just show you what I mean. What kind of tweets do I see on my screen during the day? For an overview I’ll stick to the homepage with ALL the tweets of all the accounts I follow.

A Dutch Twitter morning

7 AM. Pretty quiet. I’m offline, for one!

7.30-9 AM in the Netherlands. Dutch tweets start coming in. I ignore most of them – or read them for amusement during my commute (trains are wonderful things):

On my way to a workshop in Z. #excited (Dutch: #zinin)

Train 15 min. late. Why? Leaves are still on trees. #ns #fail

Stuck in traffic jam. 6 Miles of parked cars. #typical (Dutch: #hebikweer or #lekkerdan)

Of course people respond to some of these messages, and scheduled tweets from heavy users in other timezones roll in as well. This lasts throughout the morning.

Afternoon on Twitter

A bit after noon, my first scheduled tweet (if I have anything to share) is published. I may check up on Twitter around lunch time.

Somewhere around 2 PM Twitter starts to come alive…

… a storm is gathering…

3 PM

… Boom.

If I happen to have a Twitter tab open on my laptop, I will notice at some point after 3 PM that I have 47 new messages. Click to show them, scroll down a bit… the page shifts down an inch which means a new notification has appeared at the top of the page.In the past few seconds, 4, 6 or 11 new tweets have been sent.

My Twitter homepage explodes.

In fact I’ve watched my screen a couple of times at this time of day (a perfect coffee break moment) and I can confidently say I refresh the page at least every 30 seconds to view 20 new tweets every time. Mind you, I only follow about 400 accounts at the moment. So what does this mean?

This means the East coast of the US are awake. It’s now 9 AM over there.

It just so happens that I tweet mainly in English, and many of the people I follow are in the US.

What does it mean for the tweets I get?

  • Around 2 PM I may receive the odd tweet wishing me a “Good morning everyone!”
  • Then prescheduled tweets aimed at US Twitter users kick in.
  • From about 3 PM people who ‘do social media’ start sharing and retweeting new articles. I’m talking about social media marketeers, search engine optimization experts, business bloggers, and the like.
  • My ‘morning in the US’ scheduled tweet goes out (if I found anything useful earlier in the day).

Between 5 and 6 PM my trip home (if I’ve been at the office) by train gives me a chance to catch up with the news. Every now and then I’ll run into a website that just doesn’t get mobile. I skip those. Retweet, thank, add to buffer, look up Twitter handles or skip the exercise and just add the author’s name. This gets me through at least half an hour of my trip home.

6.15 PM depending what day it is, I’m either entertaining our son or cooking dinner. Combining either of those activities with checking tweets or news feeds on a phone is tricky. Spilled sweet pepper bits on my phone once (don’t ask how, I just did. I can be clumsy at times). This has made me more cautious. I may risk a quick update once everything is simmering quietly: after 6.30. My scheduled ‘US lunch time’ tweet is already out there.

9 PM at home, our little man is in his bed upstairs, I’m either on the couch with my phone and a book or at the table with my laptop to get some blogging done. It is 3 PM on the East coast now so people are apparently taking things easy, or it’s their job to be on social networks part of the time. On the West coast, it’s lunch time. People are chatting, following, retweeting and thanking one another. My last scheduled tweet goes out.

Around 10 PM I may have my last conversation of the evening, but for the sake of relaxation I may also turn off my phone completely before that. I don’t post at night, not even scheduled tweets. Tried it once but:

  1. The stats say people (in the US) retweet less after 3 PM so I’ve decided not to bother. If I get any reactions I won’t be able to reply anyway.
  2. Besides, I might confuse some people into believing I’m still online and purposely not responding. I’m pretty sure a few early unfollowers acted the way they did precisely for that reason!

If we’re all in the same timezone, this kind of thing may go unnoticed because we’re awake at roughly the same time, we have lunch some time around noon…

I hope you have enjoyed my Twitter sight-seeing trip!

How do timezones and the like affect your Twitter experience? Have you ever wondered why fellow ‘tweeps’ reacted differently from what you expected?

Twitter: 6 strategic tips for newcomers

I’ve been active on Twitter for a while now – though not long enough to have stopped being surprised (or somewhat dismayed) on a regular basis.

Great things about Twitter

Twitter provides an egg image for new users

Getting to know new people from across the globe – including people living quite close by, who remained unnoticed for a long time. Talking about things your relatives or friends may not be familiar with, or interested in because they relate to hobbies they don’t share or to your professional interests.

If you follow accounts with lots of links to interesting articles it is like having your intellectual equivalent of a bag full of sweets with you all day long. Even without searching, new stuff pops up. All you need to do is check out anything which looks interesting.

Surprises on Twitter

People expecting you to follow back within 24 hours. This came as a bit of a surprise to me. I mean what if you’re busy, or off for a holiday, or your spouse got angry because the best way to get you to talk to him/her would be to DM you on Twitter? Remember time zones.

People who don’t answer. I know some people have crazy numbers of followers but if you think talking to your followers is getting too ‘social’ then don’t follow back. Risk losing some followers. Or get some handy tool to help you stay social.

Clone accounts. Imagine checking a new follower’s bio and tweets, thinking ‘oh well, why not’ and following them back only to find some clone account following you the next day! I wrote a post about clone accounts earlier, and recently a similar thing happened to me.

Unfollowing and refollowing. I’m at a stage where I can still (just about) handle the number of new followers I get in a day and I check accounts regularly. I don’t like to see the same faces popping up several times among my new followers. If I don’t follow for some reason, tweet me a message if you think you can add to my (professional) life – show me you’re willing to talk to me. That adds value if your bio didn’t convince me!

Automated unfollows. I’m not kidding – it happened a couple of times before my very eyes. People who follow you because you might be interested in their products or services and who unfollow the second you press the follow button. I call that impolite. Only old-school, outbound marketers who want to be heard without having to listen do this. As I have only two ears myself (happy coincidence) I understand the problem of having a lot of people in your Twitter feed but hey, if you’re in marketing then it’s your job. Get your social media tool box out and go social.

#FF or #FollowFriday – apparently some people have decided to use their working hours on Friday to broaden their networks. They tweet #FF messages mentioning people they recommend you follow. I prefer the ones that state WHY these people are so interesting…

First steps strategy for Twitter newcomers

  1. If you’re not tweeting much yet, use lists to collect people you’d like to be followed by. Who goes into your list? Anyone with way more ‘followers’ than ‘following’. Let’s call them ‘influencers’. These are people who have plenty of others to talk with, and they need a reason to follow you (back). You can try to give them one by trying the next few tips.
  2. Get a profile picture. If you’re not comfortable with the idea, there are plenty of people who use a picture of part of their face, or a picture that shows them really small, or hazy, or dark. Whatever you do, it pays to ‘hatch’ from that egg.
  3. Write a bio that shows what sort of subjects you’re interested in.
  4. You can follow the ‘social’ people who are following more people than they have followers of their own.
  5. Retweet stuff from your influencers that you like. Quite a lot of people on Twitter will thank you for retweeting or mentioning their name (Twitter handle).
  6. If you have about the same number of followers as following, remember that others may interpret this as a sign you’ve an automated follow-back tool, and follow you in hopes of gaining more followers.
  7. Update: At some point someone will retweet an article you either wrote or discovered and shared, or mention you. My fellow blogger Daniel Sharkov (@DanielSharkov) has kindly pointed out that thanking people for sharing your stuff is definitely something you want to do. It may well lead to conversations and follows, but apart from that, people appreciate courtesy.

Looking back at my first Twitter adventures I would say the moment you decide to become active and therefore visible on Twitter, you need to be aware of what goes on around you. I hope I’ve given some idea of what you’re likely to encounter.

Did I miss anything major which you feel would really help people new to Twitter? If so, please add your tips in a comment to this post!