Twitter is a lot of fun, but it takes a while to get good at using the site. This is a basic guide to getting the most from it.
What is Twitter?
The short answer: Twitter is a micro-blogging service, which allows short messages to be broadcast to others. Many messages contain a shortened link to another page.
The longer answer: As above, plus it is an invaluable way to connect to vast amounts of people. You can share information, promote your website, products, services or self, make contacts, read lots of useful things or just feel part of something.
How do I get started?
Signing up is very easy and only takes a few minutes. Choose a Twitter name which reflects your motivation for being there. (Using your company name or a nickname is fine, as your real name can be shown to the side of it.)
Once you have access it’s a good idea to edit your profile. You can add your website if that’s appropriate. An easy to read bio is also a really good idea. Play around with backgrounds – there are lots available. This is how your page will look to visitors, so it’s a chance to reflect your personality.
Other options include signing up for automatic posting of your Tweets to Facebook, as well as receiving notifications to your cell phone. Personally I do neither of these as I hate cluttering either device.
I’m ready to start but I don’t know what to say!
Remember that Tweets are maximum 140 characters. That means every letter, number, punctuation mark & space is going to eat away at your limit. Keep it short but understandable. A quick “Hi, This is my first tweet. Blah, blah, blah about why you are there” would be enough.
So who is going to read my 140 character masterpieces?
Your followers! The best way to start with Twitter is to use the search box on your home page. Type in some key terms of interest to you and it will throw up a list of possible Tweeters you could subscribe to. If you want to chat and learn more about anime for instance, look for the word. Check out some profiles and if you like what a person is saying click ‘follow’.
Some people will automatically follow you back, others won’t. Don’t fret. Just keep adding people you find interesting and it will happen naturally. Start by following around 5 – 10 people and then focus on looking at their tweets. Be warned that having very uneven numbers of followers vs following can cause your account to be flagged.
How can I be a good Tweeter?
Read the tweets which seem interesting, click on the links and read those. Then reply, (you can see that under the tweet), and/or retweet it. To retweet (RT) is a sign of approval, kind of a favor. Don’t go crazy and start retweeting everything, but try to do at least one or two at every visit.
It’s also good practice to check your homepage for ‘mentions’. Clicking this will show when your name has been included in another tweet. I like to thank people for this and sometimes I need to reply. A similar practice is to check under ‘retweets’ for things you wrote which others shared. Again, a quick ‘thanks for the RT’ helps to build relationships.
Make your tweets interesting, informative or useful. it’s totally fine to use the service to promote yourself, after all that’s what many people are doing. Just get the balance right. Include useful tips from other sources, which will be of interest to your followers.
So is Twitter a bit like the Facebook status update service?
It may appear so but I wouldn’t use it the same way. A personal quip is fine sometimes, but few people use the service to provide banal details of their lives. Save the ‘I drank too much last night and was 30 minutes late for work’ updates for Facebook!
How do I get the links to be so short?
There are dozens of link shortening websites available. Most are free and easy to use. I like tinyurl.com.
Any other tips?
The hash key (#) can be added to tweets like this:’Check my #Facebook page for special offer info xxx (URL)’, or ‘Are we tired of communicating? xxx (URL) #social media #facebook’.
The hash terms mean anyone searching for those words will have your tweet shown in the results. It’s also a way groups communicate on a topic. Check it out by using #+ a word in the search box and you’ll see what I mean.
If you have any more tips please add them in the comments section.