Top Tips for Twitter Beginners
Are you just getting started with Twitter? Wondering what to do there? You’re not alone! Every day I get questions and puzzled looks when I mention it. The feeling “I don’t get it” still looms large for many. That’s OK; Twitter has a language and rules all its’ own, and takes time to “get.” I promise, it’s not you….it’s Twitter. Feel better now?
You may wonder: Is Twitter worth my time? How can I benefit from using it? Here are a couple of reasons my answer is yes: One, It’s the fastest news and information source on the planet. Just follow your favorite local and national news and info sources. Find them by doing a search in the bar at the top of your profile, follow a few, and you’re good to go. I love local traffic alerts from stations that I have set up to text to my phone; this has saved me valuable commute time. Two, Twitter is a great way to get customer service help quickly. Who’s your cel phone provider? Do you shop at big box retailers like Target? The big names are all there. Local companies are getting in on the act; here in Charleston, Piggly Wiggly has a great Twitter presence. The reason companies are so responsive there is because unlike a call or email, your complaint is in a public timeline, meaning everyone can see it. Smart retailers address these quickly. In addition to these services, I like being part of a medium that offers lifesaving info to a worldwide audience during a crisis. During the recent natural disasters in Haiti and Japan, Twitter was a critical first source of vital info during the aftermath and recovery. This fact alone should tell you that, used well, this medium has much more to offer you than the mundane “This is what I’m doing right now” tweets.
Here are my Top Tips for Twitter Beginners:
Start with the right mindset: Think of Twitter as a conversation. Listen first, then respond. Keep tweets short and to the point, and let your personality shine. Ask questions, offer answers. Twitter’s a great back and forth medium; often, the “cocktail party” of social media conversations.
Pick a few topics of interest: Search for them, and follow users whose tweets on those subjects are interesting. How do you determine this? Click on a user name. Their profile will appear to the right of your stream from your home page. If their tweets have personality, variety, are conversational, and have links to good info, follow them. You can also do a search on people you know. In addition to Twitter itself, tools like Twellow are great for this purpose
Upload a picture of yourself to your profile. People want to know who they are talking to; this personalizes that experience for them. Spammers and bots often have no pictures. You don’t want to be confused with one of them. For backgrounds, you can choose one of Twitter’s, or create your own. Both are easily done in the account set-up process under “Settings.”
Know the rules and etiquette: Here are a few of the most important: (1.)When you see a great tweet, don’t send as yours alone – retweet it (RT) to give proper credit. (2.) Thank those who RT you. (3.) Answer people who directly mention you by mentioning them. For example: @lizdeloach how can I check for tweets directed to me? Answer: “@djones click on the word ‘mentions’ just above your timeline.” (4.) Check into Twitter, and your mentions, once or twice a day, and spread out your tweets. Don’t be a feed clogger!
Hashtags: Understand and use them wisely: They are a way of categorizing and searching for info on any topic, person, place, etc., with the # symbol in front of a word or phrase. Your city probably has a hashtag – ours is #chs. It’s used for tweets with Charleston related info. If I tweet something with a hashtag, it appears in search for that hashtag with all tweets containing the same hashtag. Be sure to use these when relevant, and not just to get a tweet into a certain list. Want to start a hashtag on a topic you like? Tweet a question or info with one, and see who else is talking about the same subject.
These are just a few tips – I hope they help you create a meaningful and worthwhile experience there. There’s a lot more that I can help with, too. Questions? Leave them in the comment section below and I’ll gladly answer!