So if you’ve forgotten about your blog, much like 80% of the people that start them, there’s a new gig in town that’s much easier to keep current and you don’t have that same worry of writing a huge long life story type blog post hanging over your head. I am talking about Twitter.
Twitter can best be described as a micro blog, each ‘tweet’ is capped at 140 characters. Another way to describe Twitter would be a giant Facebook update feed, or pure unadulterated joy for those of us whom are compulsive updaters.
Believe it or not though, there are sort of rules that go along with Twitter, so I’m going to do my best to go over a few of the basics that will help get you tweeting in no time.
First thing first, you need to sign up for an account. You’ll need to go to the Twitter site to do this. Now here’s a good hint, Twitter asks ‘What are you doing?’. Don’t fall for that! Most tweets are usually about something you’ve seen, somewhere you’re going, a link you found funny or some sort of (soft) push for a product or service of yours. You can always check out twittervision to see a sampling of tweets from around the world, or pre-schedule your posts by using a service like Hootsuite.
My first experience with twittervision was seeing a random tweet from somebody waxing poetic about their sandwich. I rolled my eyes and closed the window while thinking to myself that this was one of the dumbest sites I’d ever seen. A few months later and I’m hooked. The act of sharing the fact that I stepped in warm cat barf with my bare feet at 3am somehow seems to make it better. Misery does love company after all.
If your Twitter account is personal rather than business focused, another good tip to follow those who follow you. Those who don’t reciprocate can be labelled as elitist and dismissed in the twitterverse, for what that’s worth. My sort of personal rule is that I’ll follow you unless you’re obnoxious, write in an AOL style (eg. “lolz, wut r U tlkn abts”), or only post links to your seminars and upcoming events that you want us all to pay to attend. I’ve also unfollowed people for tweeting literally every three minutes. If that makes me elitist, then so be it.
Don’t feel overwhealmed by looking at your feed. If you’re following 50+ people, it can look like it’s getting out of hand, don’t let it. If you see something funny or interesting you can click on the specific user to view their personal feed. I mean, if you check out the actor Stephen Fry, he is following over 54000 people, now there’s an unmanageable twitter feed.
Watch what you’re sharing, share thoughts more than actions. A key component of Twitter is called @replies. That’s sort of like a personal message from somebody that’s posted on their twitterfeed for all to see. Ask questions, but don’t ask really dumb ones, this is the internet after all and you are bound to be endlessley mocked (and not in the good way) for asking what would normally take a quick Google search to find the answer. Direct messages and @replies go a very long way towards building your following.
I think above all, you should make Twitter fun. It has the capacity for an incredible amount of networking, but it shouldn’t be mainly about that With the 140 character limitation, you need to make every word count, and it can sometimes be more of a challenge than you would think. Keep it fun, keep it simple and make it interesting. If you do this both you and your followers will get more out of the Twitter experience.
Also check out our article Getting Started on Twitter – Find your Voice & Develop a Following which has lot’s of great Twitter-related resources.