Monday, 10 September 2012

11 Tips for Twitter Newbies

11 Tips for Twitter Newbies

11 Tips for Twitter Newbies

I can remember when I first started tweeting – it all seemed rather daunting if I'm perfectly honest. It was a bit like arriving a party where everybody knew each other except you, and they were talking in Swahili. Once I got into the swing of things I found it to be a great place to make friends, learn and share so it's well worth persevering, but I was pondering with my twitter friends this afternoon what tips could help a Twitter Newbie land with their feet on the ground, and here's what we came up with.

Know why you're here

Of course, you can start tweeting completely aimlessly, but it's likely that you'll tire of it pretty quickly. Just taking five minutes to decide why you want to tweet will help you to get the most out of it. Maybe you want to keep up with friends, or perhaps you're here to promote a brand, or learn about something specific. There are a whole range of reasons and depending on which ones you choose you'll conduct yourself rather differently. The key question is whether you're here for business use, personal use or a mixture of the two.

Fill out your profile

Before choosing to follow you, people will often take a look at your profile to see who you are and what you're about. Consider this your shop window where you get to sell yourself and explain to people what you'll be tweeting about. Filling out your profile can be a good way to help you work out why you're here if you haven't already done so. 

Upload a picture

Ditch the egg – it just shouts 'bot', 'newbie' or 'not interested in twitter' either way, it makes you less likely to be followed. Think carefully about what type of picture you upload – I generally advocate using the same profile picture across all of your accounts so that people who interact with you in other social spaces can quickly recognise you on Twitter and follow you (or not!) accordingly. My preference is always for a well-taken headshot. This will look professional and enable people to recognise you if they meet you in person. Others disagree and there are plenty of people who choose to have a logo or other icon instead of a headshot. This makes particular sense if the account is run by more than one person.

Follow people who interest you

This sounds so obvious but many people skip this step without meaning to. Once you've got your account make sure you actually follow the accounts that encouraged you to sign up in the first place. Of course, this works the other way too. Just because @ReallyGoodTyres followed you, doesn't mean you have to follow them back if you're really just here to talk about fly-fishing. Don't let your timeline get clogged up with people who don't interest you at all or you'll soon find that Twitter becomes rather tedious for you.

Jump into conversations

Don't be shy. It might look like everyone's having private conversations, but Twitter is a strictly open house so if you see a conversation that looks interesting simply reply all and get talking. It can seem a little daunting at first but before long you'll be chatting away to a whole host of new friends and colleagues.

Find and follow relevant hashtags

If it would be helpful I'll write a whole post for you on hashtags soon – but for now suffice to say that hashtags (which look like this on twitter: #Interesting) are a great way of finding people who are interested in the same things as you. For example if you search for #BlogChat you'll find all sorts of people chatting about blogging. Keep your eye open for hashtags in your twitter timeline and when you see one of interest take a look at who else has been using it and it will help you broaden your net.

Be authentic

You are here to be yourself, not some imagined super-self. Don't reinvent yourself. It's not big and it's not clever and you're probably very interesting just as you are. NEVER lie to make yourself sound more interesting or credible.

Keep it professional

Even if you've joined Twitter purely to talk about your love of Pokemon (wow that cultural reference shows you just how old I'm getting) you should keep a professional voice at all times, or at least, don't let it get too unprofessional. Think to yourself 'Would I mind my current or prospective boss reading this?' and if the answer is 'no' then don't post it. Of course, if your account is 100% anonymous you can ignore this advice.

Beware of apps that tweet on your behalf

There are thousands of apps which will offer to auto tweet for you, including paper lis, apps that tell you how many retweets you got last week and apps that tweet who unfollowed you recently. You might want to share this info but think carefully about it, especially if the app may continue publishing tweets on your behalf for time immemorial.

Don't expect to read every tweet

At first you're following three people, and then a dozen and then thirty of forty and you can read every tweet that they each send every day. But before you know it you'll be following hundreds of accounts and it's simply not realistic to expect to read everything that appears in your timeline. You shouldn't even try. Just dip in and out and see what catches your eye. The great thing about twitter is that the really interesting stuff tends to get retweeted in any case so you're likely to catch it at some point.

Check in regularly

Don't leave your account idle for weeks on end and then expect to be able to pop in and instantly pick up where you left off. You'll find that interaction comes a lot more naturally if you pop in and out a bit more frequently. Something that is very easy now that you can tweet from your mobile.
I hope some of these ideas are helpful – old hands, what would you add?
With thanks to Pooky

1 comment:

  1. Matthew, I was just about to blog on the same subject and you've saved me the job! ...and done it much better too.
    I'm trying to get all my teachers tweeting for obvious reasons and this is a big help.