Retweet Bots and Hashtags: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 2

Twitter is an important professional networking platform for the Digital Humanities. But it’s not exactly self-evident how to make it work in your favour. This part explains all you need to know on retweet bots and hashtags.

As some of you might remember, I did a Twitter Engagement Experiment at some time in autumn last year. Now I wanted to share my most important learnings, so you can make your Twitter presence more effective with just as little work as you want to put in. Actually, this was all just meant to be one post but it got so crazy long that I decided to make it into a series of digestible short posts.

More Twitter Growth/Strategy advice

4) Use the power of (retweet) bots.

During the last year, I have played around with bots or partly-automating retweeting on some Twitter accounts (like the epigrammetry blog’s Twitter) using bots. I created a feminist bot, a #100DaysofDH challenge bot, a #digiclass promotion bot. I motivated the IEG DH Lab to create a bot and use the power of bot retweets. I discussed bots a lot this year and realized that a lot of people who use Twitter daily didn’t know that you can use certain hashtags to be retweeted by bots to a certain target audience.

There are lots of DH (retweet) bots as well which will usually retweet the hashtag #dh but, in my experience, they won’t retweet all that many tweets. So yours isn’t guaranteed to be picked up by them or else they might also get shut down when they retweet too much. That’s why I thought it would be safer to create a retweet bot which only retweets a hashtag which was basically invented for the sole purpose of having this concrete bot retweet it specifically (#100DaysofDH). Automating mass retweets is against the Twitter rules (more info in the post linked below).

Learn how to create a retweet bot in this post!

Don’t overuse bot retweets though, because, like I said in 1), being auto-retweeted by lots of bots with a huge audience (like the maaaany #100DaysofCode-hashtag retweeting bots) can actually lower your engagement rate if the audience of the bot isn’t actually interested in your content. That’s why the #100DaysofDH bot might be more helpful here because it’s niched down much more onto a DH target audience actually likely to interact with the material it retweets. Although I have to admit that it doesn’t work super well so far – so no promises 😉

5.1) Know how (and why!) to use hashtags.

Hashtags can be used on Twitter to categorize and classify the content or topic of your tweet. This influences whom the tweet is shown to, based on their interests. If you’re not using hashtags at all and are a fairly new Twitter user with little to no audience, your tweet will likely end up in the Twitter abyss unseen.

Don’t use too many to not appear scammy (I think I myself tend to be bordering on too many in my usual posts, CareerConvo says up to 3 per tweet) but also realize that hashtags are a means for Twitter to categorize/classify your content and know whom to serve your posts to / who could be interested in your posts.

If you use none, your Tweets likely won’t be served as strategically to those people who could actually be interested in them, so tweeting immediately becomes much less targeted. Especially if you aren’t a big account with lots of followers yet.

If you always use a special hashtag, like the Mainz DH Lab does (#DHLab_IEG and their bot), you can have it retweeted by a bot so that all related posts can be found/regrouped in one place. Conferences also often use this strategy so you can find all tweets about the event in one place. They usually create a special conference hashtag for this purpose (such as  #AlchemicalLabsVienna2020 for my alchemy conference). But that’s only one of many advantages for hashtags. Use them well!

5.2) Know your hashtags.

Oh, and I almost forgot: In order to create a successful hashtag strategy, the first thing you need to know is which hashtags there are in your field (both broad and more niche) and how they are being used. Do some reserach into that first. For LaTeX, for example, you need to know that you can find and address the community by using #TeXLaTeX. In DH, you have #dh, #100DaysofDH for the challenge and many more. #digiclass is for Digital Classics. As you can see, some are quite obvious, some you need to learn.

Also, beware that different hashtags have different “scopes”: #dh, for example, is fairly big whereas #digiclass or #EpigraphyTuesday are much more targeted to a niche audience. The more specific you can be, the better (usually).

There is also quite an amount of hashtags relating to days of the week such as #TechTuesday, #ThrowbackThursday, #FossilFriday, etc. If you find one like that which is relevant to the field, all the better.

However, without a bot it’s a bit difficult or time-consuming to keep track of the “smaller” ones which don’t already have their own bots. Another reason for you to create your own bot which will retweet (and thus highlight) the hashtags you like! (Like I did for the Graz Digital Classics interest group account).

Type “how to use hashtags” or something like that in your search engine. You can probably find much more further info if you want.

6) Follow a content/value first strategy.

No scamming will get you long-term engagement like acting naturally and just adding value will do for you. CareerConvo calls it a “value for value” rather than a “follow for follow strategy” (like it is sometimes promoted as a good strategy – but the opposite is the case!).

Don’t do “follow for follow” thereby collecting followers who don’t engage with your content. This will actually lower your engagement rate in the long run.

7) Use retweet bots and big accounts willing to retweet

But carefully and sparingly, being aware of the fact that while this might expose you to a bigger audience, Twitter’s internal “interest rating” for you and your post might go down because of a bad views-to-engagements-ratio (!).


So, that’s it for today. Stay tuned for the next episode.


the Ninja

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Other posts in The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide

  1. Improve your Twitter Strategy: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 1
  2. Retweet Bots and Hashtags: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 2
  3. Bio Engineering, Tweet Structure or How to lure your audience: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 3
  4. Long-Term Twitter Strategizing: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 4

I like LaTeX, the Humanities and the Digital Humanities. Here I post tutorials and other adventures.

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