With nearly 10,000 people joining Twitter on a daily basis, people find it useful for connecting with friends, growing their business network and for learning about interesting blog articles, content, websites, applications and tools available online. I joined Twitter almost a year ago and it is an incredibly useful tool. I have developed some great new relationships, expanded my business reach, and discovered great articles and websites that people have shared with me.
I do find that many people who I talk to about Twitter find it confusing to get started or intimidating. So while there are many different blog posts and articles about how to get started on Twitter, I figured I would add my own to the catalog with my own unique perspective and set of tools I use to get the most value out of Twitter. Hopefully at least one person out there will find this helpful and if so…it has served it’s purpose.
Create your account: OK…this may sound ridiculous but the first step is of course to go to twitter.com. When selecting a username, I would recommend you create a user name that is your FirstnameLastname. If that isn’t available do not add any dashes or underscores as many Twitter users utilize mobile devices and you have to do some serious finger gymnastics to get those characters in. In this article where I refer to a generic user name I will use my own Twitter user name of “@EricGuerin” as the example.
COMPLETELY fill out your profile: You’d be surprised how many people don’t include a photo, fill out the bio, etc. This is how you are found so be as complete as possible. Add a photograph of yourself that shows your face – your twitter account is your personal brand. I don’t follow anyone who does not have a photo of themselves. Include a link to your blog or…if you own your own company…include a link to your company website.
Start Tweeting: The reason you want to start posting tweets before you try to follow others is because you want to highlight your interests via these tweets. Share your most recent blog posts, links to your latest video, etc. Even though Twitter asks “What are you doing?” it’s more about “What are you reading?”, “What video did you watch?” or “What did you find online?” I would advise against posting tweets such as “I am so tired”, “I am eating dinner”, etc. – you can do this once in a while, but the only way you will get any value out of Twitter is by fostering conversations with other people.
Look for friends: Have some friends already using Twitter? Great! Connect with them using the Find People On Twitter Tool. This can also be a great way to find people to follow, look at who your friends are following and start by connecting with them.
Start following others: Use search.twitter.com and search for people who have posted tweets in areas of your interests. Let’s say you really like talking about the Red Sox…you can do a search for “Red Sox” and the people that are having those conversations will show up for you to connect with them. Click the “Follow” button below their photos. Some of them will follow you back and some of them won’t. Don’t take it personally if some of them don’t.
or don’t follow others: Maybe you aren’t necessarily looking to connect by “following” people at random, maybe you’d rather just hop in and out of conversations that interest you? Fair enough. You’ll want to check out Tweetworks. Tweetworks offers threaded conversations in groups within Twitter…think of it like a chat room on steroids. Best of all it forwards your tweets from Tweetworks into the much larger stream of conversations going on with Twitter so if you want to talk about “Video Blogging” maybe someone will do a search and find you on Tweetworks or will follow you by finding that tweet. Either way Tweetworks is probably one of the easiest and fastest ways to get started with Twitter.
Get the right tools: It’s pretty easy to get a headache trying to stay on top of all your connections tweets and conversations. To make Twitter easier to follow you’ll want to get yourself set up with the right tools. The two best are Tweetdeck and Twhirl. Both run on the Adobe Air platform and are super simple to install. The benefit is they make receiving and replying to direct messages, replies and having conversations much easier than trying to follow on Twitter. There are also apps for the iPhone and Blackberry which make mobile tweeting much easier.
Start the conversation: If someone tweets a question (i.e. What video sharing site gets the most traffic?) and this is a question you want to answer…you want to reply to this person. So you would say:
@EricGuerin YouTube receives the most traffic of all video sharing sites
Again @EricGuerin would be replaced with the name of the person whose tweet you are replying to. In Twhirl you can simply rollover their photo and in the upper left of the photo the “@” symbol will pop up making sending a reply much easier.
Good Karma: Let’s say someone you follow tweeted a really great article or video and you want to share it with others…Retweet them. All you need to do on Twitter is add “RT @EricGuerin“ and their tweet – where @EricGuerin is replaced with the name of the person whose tweet you are retweeting or in Twhirl, roll over their photo and click on the double arrows in the lower right and Twhirl will automatically load that tweet into your typing area with the RT and user name already added. For example, if you want to retweet one of my posts, it would look like.
RT @EricGuerin Blog post: “Helping E-Commerce with Video” a look at the recent eMarketer article with my thoughts http://is.gd/iuBV
Most of all have fun: You are new to Twitter don’t take it too seriously. Don’t obsess about how many followers you have, don’t worry if someone stops following you, don’t worry about the significance of your 100th or your 10,000th tweet (believe it or not some people do). It’s all about the quality of the conversations you are having and whether it is worthwhile to you…not anybody else.
Getting started is the most difficult part, but once you have started it’s pretty easy. You’ll learn what you like and don’t like and what works best for you. after that you will learn as you go and figure out how to use Twitter the way it works best for you.
So what do you think? Did I leave anything out? Anything that needs clarification? Let me know in the comments below or ask me on Twitter by replying to @EricGuerin.