Between discussions in class and posts here on this blog, Twitter has been a popular topic so far this semester. We’ve discussed everything from what purpose it has for us to how we can best use it to network with other people who have interests and goals that are similar to our own. Whether you’re interested in finding a job or internship or just looking to talk about your favorite sports team or TV show, there’s something on Twitter for everyone. One question that’s come up on the blog a few times recently is what exactly we can do to become more “popular” and gain a larger following on Twitter so that it can fulfill its potential for us.

Last week, Jessica posted a video about tailoring content to attract followers. I agree with the basic premise of the video, but I think it fails to identify what qualifies as “valuable content.” In many ways, a Twitter account is just like a blog. Without quality content, there is no incentive for people to follow and read your tweets. The question then is, how do we define what is quality content on Twitter? It is difficult or even impossible to answer this question concisely because each user has their own definition of what they consider to be quality content.

For some people, Twitter is merely an aggregator for information from around the Internet. They look for links to articles that they might not have seen already. For others, however, interaction with their followers is more valuable than simple information. In my experience, the reply button is far more important than the retweet button. Retweets are still appreciated because they send my comments out to a wider audience, but, in my experience, the most valuable tweets are the ones that the reader thinks are worth replying to.

One way to increase your interaction on Twitter, then, would be to take the time to reply to the tweets that you find interesting from the people you follow. Did someone link a news or journal article that you found to be thought-provoking? Tell them your thoughts about it. Most people on Twitter love to hear opinions from their followers on the things they tweet. If you’re looking for more, try searching for terms or hashtags that you’re interested in and jump into the conversation. Twitter is a powerful tool for promoting your work, but it’s also a great place to meet new people and discuss what’s popular, whether it’s politics or sports, music or the book you just finished.