The Power of Replying on Twitter

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The modest reply button is one of Twitter’s most underrated features. Part of the reason it’s so unrecognized is that it’s the simplest of human interactions—we take it for granted. But simple doesn’t necessarily mean insignificant. On Twitter, specifically, a single reply can make or break brands. How you ask? Well, we asked digital marketing consultant, Josh Spector. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Josh Spector
Topic: The power of replying on Twitter
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: Why is the reply feature a powerful way to grow your reach?

Replies are great because they give you targeted growth. If you reply to someone who has a large following, you have a good chance of your tweet reaching that person’s audience. Often, this will give you better impressions and engagements than if you tweeted it out directly from your handle.

As Richard also pointed out, replying to someone is a good way for you to encourage discussions and develop relationships. Communities are formed and forged through genuine conversations.

Q2: What makes a good reply?

A good reply is specific. It’s helpful and genuine. A good reply is more than blind agreement such as “Exactly!” Or “I agree!” or “You’re so right.” A good, meaningful reply adds value to the conversation.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use those phrases in your replies, though. Those, along with GIFs, can be effective ways to drop out of a discussion gracefully. But it’s important to distinguish how to reply to tweets in a way that keeps the conversation moving forward.

Warwick shared what could be a good reply. Most people share links to articles and information on their tweets. When you come across such a link, read it thoroughly before you reply—and when you do reply, use the content of the article as a way to propel the discussion, either by asking a follow-up question of the author or making an observation and opening up the floor for interpretations. Both of those are effective ways to use the reply feature to provide value and invoke insights.

Q3: How do you choose which accounts/tweets to reply to?

One of the main criteria to consider when you’re replying to someone is whether their audience is relevant to yours. Also, look at how active they’re on Twitter and how engaged their audience is with their content.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t reply to a thread you’re passionate about, even if the author’s audience isn’t overly relevant to you. If you feel strongly about a discussion and you think your opinion is adding value, then by all means go ahead. It’s more important to know which threads not to reply to rather than stringently replying to the ones that strategically advance your handle.

As Julia from NOW Marketing Group said, absolutely reply to people you care about—such as family, close friends, and colleagues, even if replying to them doesn’t necessarily increase your impressions.

Q4: When should you reply to your own tweets?

You should reply to your own tweets when:
1. Your old tweet is relevant to a current discussion.
2. You want to boost an older tweet/thread that’s performed well in the past.

As our friends from Social Hour added, you should also reply to tweets when you have newer information, links, and follow-up details to an old tweet.

Q5: When do you choose to reply to a tweet over quote retweeting it?

Think of it in terms of how much value the original tweet offers to your audience. If you think your audience should see the original tweet to appreciate your response to it, then choose to quote retweet it. If it’s more of the case of offering value to the original tweet for the author and their audience, choose reply.

Rose distinguished between the two options quite nicely. When her intention is to contribute to a conversation and encourage others to follow up on it, she replies to a tweet. When she wants to make a statement or stance about a specific tweet, she quote-retweets it.

Q6: What are some ways to find relevant conversations on Twitter?

I’ve always said that Advanced Search is one of its most valuable features that Twitter doesn’t actively promote. I use Advanced Search to find gems from our #TwitterSmarter chat when I write this summary. You can filter tweets by dates, keywords, authors, language, engagement, and links. Imagine finding a needle in the haystack in seconds. That’s exactly what it’s like. Check out Advanced Search here.

Another great way to find great conversations is to paste the link of an article you found on Twitter into the search bar. You’ll see everyone else who’s shared that exact link and the conversations around it. It’s a slick way to find people with similar and highly-relevant interests.

Christine mentioned something that you might’ve noticed too. Twitter’s algorithm has advanced a lot over the last 2-3 years. It identifies people you frequently engage with and starts showing you tweets from people they frequently engage with. There’s a good chance that you’ll find tweets from mutual friends showing up in your feed. Additionally, you might also see tweets from strangers who talk about the same things you do. Of course, naturally, their conversations will be relevant to yours.

Apart from all these options, the Explore tab and the “Recommended for you” section on the web version of Twitter will bring up highly relevant topics and people you might want to check out, as Sarah pointed out. You can also subscribe to public lists and find great discussions.

Q7: What sort of replies get the most engagement?

Replies that resonate with readers get a lot of attention. This could be a tweet that expands on a specific topic, a personal story, or just a follow-up question.

Tweets that celebrate someone’s success, wish someone well or give thanks get a lot of attention, too, as Aaron pointed out.

Q8: What are some don’ts when replying to a tweet?

Don’t be a problematic person to deal with, don’t ramble on about yourself when no one really cares, and never digress. All of those are common mistakes, and most of us have done it in the past. But thanks to discussion forums like #TwitterSmarter, we can learn from others, and avoid making the same mistakes twice.

Another crucial no-no is ugly drama, as Madalyn pointed out. No one likes to see a rotten argument on Twitter. If you disagree with someone’s perspective, bring it up politely. There’s too much hate speech on Twitter already—let’s not add to that.

Well, folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks a lot for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Josh, have a look at this Twitter thread (courtesy of Advanced Search!). If you think this summary is pretty good, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us every Thursday at 1pm ET on #TwitterSmarter. We also hang out on Twitter Spaces at 5pm ET to continue our chat. Catch you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff so I can pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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