Twitter Basics

This is the first of two posts about Twitter and it’s the more technical/logistics one of them.  We’ll get into style and content in the next one, since that’s way more subjective anyway.

The Fastest Way to Make Sure No One Sees Your Tweet

This is the most important lesson in the entire course.  If you forget or disagree with everything else, listen to this!

This is a reply

This is a mention

Twitter treats them differently.  If you start a tweet with “@”, Twitter treats it as a reply, which is only seen by people who follow both of you. If you’re actually having a conversation, that’s great, you aren’t clogging up everyone’s timelines.  If you’re trying to promote, give a shout out or whatever, you’ve just severely limited your audience.

The canonical way to get around this is to throw a period in from of the @... or just get creative and reorder your words, or start with something like “Hey!” “Yo!” or “Pssst”


I've heard so many people complain "Thanks for the fave.. for nothing" because, of course, only retweets end up in other people's timelines.  But guess what?  The majority of Twitter users aren't narcissistic entertainers who spend more time on their Notifications screen than any other. I got a ton of followers off a Lauren Ashley Biship (@sbellelauren) fave thanks to the Discovery and Activity screens.


Twitter has a very cool feature called Lists, that’s supported nicely by the native mobile apps and by TweetDeck on your computer.  Lists let you group people you follow into categories for fast/selective viewing.  I have lists set up for venues and shows, news outlets, and my actual real life friends.  I follow over a thousand people, so this keeps me from missing out on things that are most important or timely, while still being able to see lots of people's tweets when I have more time.  I also start a new list for every festival I cover, with all the comedians booked to perform on it, so I can stay focused on that for the duration. I’ve even got one that's a group of NY comedians who like to talk shit on each other for whenever I’m in the mood for that.

When to Post

There are various studies done about the best times to post to Twitter (and everything else) for maximum views/sharing, though these are really generalized and I’ve found don’t necessarily cover comedians and comedy fans, who are night owls.

If you pay attention over the course of a week or so (or use Buffer to track it for you - more on that in a minute), you’ll probably figure out your own best times.  Here’s what I’ve found works for me (and my theory as to why):

  • 10:30-11:30 am - Most comedians are just waking up and laying in bed reading Twitter, normal people have hit their first “bored at work, let’s see what’s happening online” break
  • 1:30-2 pm - People are just getting back from lunch
  • 5-8 pm - Comedians are sitting around, bored at open mics, desperately refreshing their social media apps, also the best time to post about tonight’s show, as normal people are getting out of work and deciding what to do tonight.
  • Around 10:30 pm on weeknights - Normal people are at home, sitting on the couch, half watching TV, half reading Twitter
  • Weekends

How Often to Post

PLEASE SPREAD OUT YOUR POSTS! Yassir Lester is the only person I haven’t unfollowed (or removed from a List) for taking over my entire timeline.

If you’re promoting something, you CAN post it more than once.  Definitely use different words each time so it’s not just a straight repeat, but you won’t be annoying people by doing this.  Twitter is ephemeral, we aren’t all pooping/reading it at the same time.  And don’t forget time zone differences.

Which brings us to...

Get a Scheduler

A lot of people love HootSuite, but I’m partial to Buffer.  Buffer lets you set up an automatic schedule, plus add any additional posts immediately or for a scheduled time.  This way, you can write a dozen tweets at once, but dribble them out to the world at a non-annoying pace.

Buffer has the added bonus of tracking Faves, RTs and clicks so you can see which times and types of posts work best for you.

I also still use TweetDeck on my PC (RIP TweetDeck, the best mobile Twitter app ever), because it has excellent support for both Lists and pre-scheduling.

All right, that's enough nuts & bolts.  Next time, MORE TWITTER - Why you shouldn't listen to anyone's advice about how to tweet (including mine)

AuthorAmy Hawthorne