4 ways to find content for Twitter

Much of what makes Twitter great, in my opinion, is everyone’s general willingness to share other people’s content. Constantly regurgitating lameness isn’t cool. But if you’re sharing amazing stuff, people will thank you for it, both your followers and the people whose content you share. That’s great all around.

So it’s a matter of finding that amazing content. Here I ‘d like to share how to do that, at least how I try to do it.

1. Listen to your followers

Number one, you got to pay attention to your followers. The more you share their stuff, whether that’s their tweets or their blog posts or whatever, the more of a connection you’ll build with them. Who doesn’t enjoy having their content shared?

So my first stop is always to check in with my followers, see what they’re talking about.

The downside to this, though, is that at a point you end up all sharing the same stuff. The pool gets too small. That’s where you have to branch out, start introducing content from outside your social circle.

2. Watch your lists

My next stop is my lists. I have a number of them set up for different purposes. I’ve created three or four, though, that I use exclusively for finding new content.

  • Quoters: These are people who either make up quotes themselves or who tend to share a lot of quotes from other people. If I see a feed that’s primarily quotes and they’re outstanding, I’ll add them to this list. Then whenever I’m looking to share a quote (or need some inspiration for creating my own), I’ll check this list.
  • Linkers: These are people who post tons of links to interesting content around the web. Some of them, like @GuyKawasaki, do it for a living. I tend to prefer more specialized (read: deeper) content, but I try to keep a healthy mix from multiple topics in this list.
  • Feeds: These aren’t people at all. They’re a collection of my favorite RSS feeds ported into a separate Twitter account. From there, I create a “feeds” list and follow just that one account I created. I’m sure there’s a more elegant solution, but I rigged this up back when I didn’t know as much about all the options, actually before Twitter lists were even created. Anyway, of the lists, this is my last resort because it’s content I know I can trust but not necessarily new to me.
  • News: This is a list that followers news and magazine feeds, like The New York Times or The Economist. I don’t bother with this one too much because I don’t like news. Still, it’s a good one to have in your bag of tricks.

3. Check the social sites

To really branch out beyond your usual social streams, you can check some social sites, like the ones that aggregate supposedly great content from around the web.

  • StumbleUpon: Finds content for you and then starts to learn what you like.
  • Delicious: A bookmarking site for yourself… but also to spy on others and see what they’re enjoying.
  • Facebook: You can transport statuses and links from your friends and share them with your followers. (And as a Facebook tip, you can go the other way around too, which I usually prefer, Twitter to Facebook.)
  • Google: Use it both as a search engine and for its RSS reader. Didn’t know this was social, did you?
  • Etc. (There are tons of sites like this, some might be more specific to the content you’re looking for.)

Be careful with these kinds of sites though. It’s easy to become one of them, and then why should anyone follow you instead of them?

4. Pay attention offline

Don’t discount this. Often the best content comes from places you don’t normally look, like real life.

  • Face to face or phone conversations: Be careful with what you share this way. Sometimes you can safely quote people without having to ask them. Other times, you can’t. This is one of my favorites, though, when it works out.
  • Movies and music: I don’t like people who constantly post lyrics, but every once in a while can work. Same thing with movies.
  • Books: Another favorite of mine. You can tweet direct quotes, summaries, or just your opinions on them. This is a great way to inject some offline flavor.
  • Anything you’d like to recommend or warn about: Hating that new McDonald’s burger? Let your friends know (as long as it’s not too often). Discovered a new toy? Recommend it.

In other words, pay attention to what’s going on around you. You don’t necessarily need to increase your daily inputs. More often than not, you just need to be more observant of what you already have.

That’s what’s really interesting for others to read about. Because it’s so you. And since it’s so ordinary, it’s so them too. That’s how you make connections.