In the last week, I’ve had three very different people come to me and ask about Twitter. In my little corner of the world, three’s a trend – so I’m going to tell you what I told them, in hopes that it can shed some light on how to get started.
1. Sign up on Twitter. Choose a decent user name. Upload a picture. Set up your location and your blog or website URL. If you don’t have a picture or a URL, wait until you do have them before you start adding people to follow.
2. Twittering can be as complex or as simple as you’d like it to be. But, here are some things you can do to get started with decent tweets that will make people want to follow you:
- Sign up at TwitterFeed. This allows your blog posts to feed directly into your Twitter, saving you the step of copying and pasting the info.
- If you’re a shutterbug, use a tool like TwitPic and add a description that posts directly to your Twitter.
- Find tools that help you link to interesting or enlightening things you find on the Internet. There are many ways to do this. For example, I set up a Tumblr blog, which has a tool called “Share on Tumblr” that goes right in my browser. Whenever I am on a site, I can click on that and post a quote, picture, video or website link, and I can add a description. Then, that feeds into my Twitter via TwitterFeed. (I do this because my Tumblr blog is searchable; I use it as a “filing cabinet” for things that interest me.)
3. Once you’ve gotten about a week’s worth of posts, start looking for people to follow. As is the way of Twitter, there are about a million ways to do this:
- Use the search window at the top of your Twitter window. Type in keywords that pertain to your interests or your business. You’ll find a list of twitterings that include those keywords, which is a good way to find people – but don’t forget to check the upper right hand side of the screen for users that are connected to that interest.
- Sign up at Mr. Tweet and have it recommend people for you. This is a service you can use over and over again, too.
- Once you find people you want to follow, check out who they are following by going to Twitter 100. This shows you the 100 most recent twitterings from their followers – and if you see someone you like, look for the “[t]” to the right of their user names to look at their Twitter page. Or, click on the names to see their top 100 followers.
- Google articles about how Twitter is used in your line of work and see who’s writing about it, and who they follow or recommend you follow.
- Search on Twitter for hashtag #followfriday – people add this when, on Fridays (duh), they list several people they recommend you follow.
- Look for groups on Twitter Groups that share your interests, and join them.
4. Sign up for TwiMailer. This gives you a much more comprehensive overview of the people who have started following you, delivered to your inbox the moment they start. An absolutely invaluable, efficient tool.
5. You can sign up on Facebook to have either your Facebook status updates feed to Twitter, or vice versa. Another time-saving tool.
6. Once you start to get a lot of people following you and interacting with you, you’re going to want to sign up for a Twitter visualizer/organizer. I use TweetDeck and have my Twitter people organized by groups – people whose Tweets I want to know about ASAP, companies’ tweets and people who are located in Italy, for example.
7. Many times, you will see under someone’s tweet that they’ve posted via some other application. This is the best way to find out about all the apps out there you can use.
All the rest, you will learn by doing – replies, direct messages, and the lingo you need to know. But, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.
- Don’t be afraid to follow the heavy hitters in your industry, and engage them. They’re just as excited about the possibilities of Twitter as you are.
- Don’t be afraid to unfollow people who tweet too much, or whose twitterings annoy you in some way.
- Don’t be afraid to not reciprocate when someone has started following you. I have a lot of fascinating people I’d like to follow, but I use my Twitter for very specific travel-related reasons, and I stick to the criteria I have decided upon as closely as I can (clients, friends and family are really my only exceptions. And Karl Lagerfeld, because he’s just too fabulous.)
- But is that the real Karl Lagerfeld, or is this one? I’m still not sure, to be honest. Beware of imitators, fakers and the like.
- However, if you’re joining for fun, find and follow whatever and whomever you’re a fan of – from Darth Vader to Demi Moore to Ryan Seacrest to TV characters like Mad Men’s Betty Draper.
- Your Twitter “replies” page doesn’t tell you if someone retweeted you – the Twitter equivalent of forwarding an email. This can be crucial information, and does appear on platforms like TweetDeck.
- Try to be as wordy as you can when replying to someone. A whole page of “@whoever Ha!” does not an interesting Twitter page make.
- If you want to follow a conversation, simply type in the user name into the search window and you’ll get both sides!