Taking Twitter to the next level – Beacons, Cascades and R(0)s


Beacons? Cascades? R(0)s? What do these terms mean? And what have they got to do with Twitter? They might seem like jargon, but understanding the concept behind these terms can help you take your Twitter strategy to the next level, getting real traction and enabling your tweets to be seen by an ever increasing audience.

At times Twitter can feel like a black hole – particularly if you have just started out. You spend hours crafting your strategy (and if you haven’t, then you should), composing tweets, ensuring you have relevant and timely content to link to in said tweets… and all for what? Who’s actually reading these, let alone engaging with them?

Let’s think about it this way. You’re in the office. There are lots of conversations going on all around you. Some you get involved in, others you listen to, others you block out all together. But what all of these conversations will have in common are a minimum of 2 participants, otherwise it’s just someone talking to themselves, with no engagement with those around them. Sounding familiar?

Twitter acts in much the same way. If you simply send tweet after tweet, undirected, people might listen, they might join in, but they’re more than likely going to ignore the comments, as the’re not really aimed at anyone in particular. By using some of the methods below, you can create your own beacons – people who will RT for you and further on your tweets without prompting – cascades – people who forward your tweet on to other people it might be of interest to – and R(0) effects – larger profiles with over 1,000 engaged followers who will spread the message to their highly engaged followers and so on. You need to start real conversations to spread your tweets wider than you thought possible. Here’s how:

1. Keep your tweets short
Yes, 140 characters is not a lot to play with and asking for increased brevity might have some of you breaking out in a cold sweat! However, consider this: by leaving approx. 15 – 20 characters spare, you are allowing potential Beacons to include a comment or their Twitter handle in a RT. Yes, you can now just click the nifty little RT button, but a lot of people still like to comment on what they’re passing on. Allow them to do this.

2. Mention the right people
Including key people in your tweets will help the message get picked up. For example, if you are at an event use the Twitter handle of other attendees, as well as the event #. Choosing the right people, those with an active Twitter presence and a large following, will allow you to cascade your message out through their following. But remember – this is a two-way relationship… make sure you reciprocate by RT their tweets and interacting with them on a continuous basis, not just when you need help cascading.

3. Don’t ask for the RT
Asking for a RT looks desperate. If your content is good, people will RT. If your content is relevant, people will RT. Telling someone ‘You should RT this because it is interesting to you’ will invariably have the opposite effect. Let your readers decide for themselves if it is interesting – and do your best to make sure your content is!

4. Be prepared
Prepare yourself a list of people who can be your beacon, help you cascade or become an R(0). Take this list with you to events, networking functions, meetings – you can then tweet quickly and easily, propagating breaking news as it happens – not 5 minutes later when you have finally managed to trawl Google and find the right person’s Twitter handle.

Overall, putting to one side beacons, cascades and R(0)s, the main thing regular tweeters need to remember is to create conversations. Don’t be the person sat mumbling to themselves at their desk – be the one shouting “Hey! Person with the great connections who knows all about this subject – have you seen this?” You’re not there to lecture or preach, you ultimately want people to spread your messages to create debate, conversations and engagement. This will only happen if you invite people to join you, rather than shout indiscriminately into the masses.

So next time you tweet, just stop and think: Am I considering all the beacons, cascades and R(0)s available to me, or am I talking to myself again?


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