What to tweet

Every Twitter user starts out with a similar dilemma: What can I say in 140 characters or less that will be interesting to my followers and help me gain new followers?

Above all, aim for variety in your tweets. Here is a menu to start with, but there is plenty more to share with Twitterdom.

1. Funny Tweets

Everyone loves to smile and to laugh. Share a link to a funny video, repeat a funny quote, or reveal your own sense of humor. Even better if it is related to art.

2. Inspirational Tweets
Ditto everything I said under #1.

3. Helpful Resources
This is a biggie! The more you can help people, the more they will return the favor and help you build a following. Because Twitter is social, being helpful earns you extra credit and more friends. Recent tweets I’ve seen included coupon codes, sales on art supplies and marketing materials, and useful articles.

4. Questions and Opinions
Ask questions of your own because people love to give their opinions! Answer questions because you want to be part of the conversation. Share what might be a controversial opinion if you really want to stir things up.

Ask questions about resources (e.g. what type of camera to purchase), ask seemingly–but fun–irrelevant questions (I just asked if it was “biggie” or “biggy” as I was writing #3 above; most said “biggie”), and ask for guidance on a marketing decision.

5. Retweet (”RT” in Twitter lingo)
Retweeting is repeating what someone else wrote. Using the RT at the beginning of your tweet followed by the person’s @name gives them credit. It also shows up in their @Replies column so they can see how kind you were. It’s a courtesy and, again, helps you make friends on Twitter. Here are some recent RTs from me.


As I said above under #1 and #2, you can share funny and inspirational quotes, but you can also share thought-provoking or profound quotes. Again, even better if they are art-related, such as a critic’s opinion. Be sure to give credit to your source!

I came across–again–this quote that I love and tweeted it yesterday. It’s from Kimmelman’s book The Accidental Masterpiece.

Tweeting a Quote

7. Leads and Opportunities

If you hear of a deadline for a show, a grant, or a residency, tweet it.

8. What You’re Doing

In an earlier post, I said that we don’t really care what you’re currently doing, but I was wrong. In his TIME magazine cover story, Steven Johnson writes:

And yet as millions of devotees have discovered, Twitter turns out to
have unsuspected depth. In part this is because hearing about what your
friends had for breakfast is actually more interesting than it sounds.
The technology writer Clive Thompson calls this “ambient awareness”: by
following these quick, abbreviated status reports from members of your
extended social network, you get a strangely satisfying glimpse of
their daily routines. We don’t think it at all moronic to start a phone
call with a friend by asking how her day is going. Twitter gives you
the same information without your even having to ask.

Thanks @lisacall for bringing this to my attention in your comment.

9. Your Blog Posts or Website
Aha! We finally got to promoting your art. It’s not a mistake that it’s this far down the list. You must make friends before you can promote to them. You have to send all of the other tweets in order to “earn the right” to promote to your followers. If you were constantly promoting, you’d lose friends and followers quickly. A good rule of thumb is to promote 5-10% of the time.

Don’t just send a tweet that says “New blog post, click here: http://…” You have to entice people. Pique their curiosity so they want to click! There are thousands of new blog posts they could choose from. Why should they click on yours? What will they get as a result?

Ditto for sending tweets that say “Just posted a new work on Etsy, click here . . . “ Again, describe it. Make me curious! The more descriptive you are, the easier your tweet will be found in a search.

REMINDER: Don’t forget to use http:// in front of your URLs in your tweets. That’s the only way to make them clickable in Twitter.

I continue my Twitter tips. Leave a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer them in future posts.

Send to Kindle

36 comments to What to tweet