By now you’ve heard of it – the mini-blog site that the media is in a frenzy about since Jon Stewart parodied it on his show. When the nation’s premier conservative newspaper writes an article on How to Twitter, you may have considered finding out for yourself.
Bloggers and journalists have written thousands of articles on how to get started on Twitter. I refer to Scott Meis’ blog, Social Media Snippets, for the best Twitter advice. Two posts you’ll want to check out are Why Twitter Can Seem Intimidating and his Twitter Tools Overview series.
Recently, Tony has decided to devote more time and attention to his Twitter account. I’m writing this post with him in mind, using his photography interests for some context. Perhaps looking into his Twitter experience can help you learn some insight into what yours could be.
Before you get started, you’ll of course want to create your account. For good advice, you can refer to this post from Scott on creating your Twitter profile.
Below you’ll find a three-step process I recommend to Tony and others who are just getting started.
Very important – remember to keep your updates public. Twitter is an open community. Users who hide their updates appear like they’re scared or trying to hide something from the world. Think of it as a party – you want to talk to everyone, not engage in shady backroom conversation.
1. Start Following People.
Who should you follow you ask? First, follow friends, as they are already part of your network. Next, you’re going to have to meet some new people. Just like in the real world, start following your friends’ followers. Screen them of course by looking at their profile and viewing their tweets.
Are they tweeting about things that interest you? By all means, give them a follow.
You’ll also have to venture out on your own. You can use a tool called Twellowhood to find new people with similar interests as yours. For example, Tony would probably search for those interested in photography.
2. Choose a Twitter Platform
Experienced tweeters graduate to new software to help them tweet more efficiently. I use TweetDeck, which gives you a simple to use Twitter interface in a three-column format. Most importantly, TweetDeck, and other interfaces like it, allow you to perform more complicated Twitter functions at the simple click of the mouse.
For example, TweetDeck helps you shorten and post links to URL’s. It also helps you to retweet your friends’ tweets, a necessary function for building relationships. When you retweet, you basically send someone else’s tweet to all your followers.
In Tony’s case, perhaps a friend would tweet about their updated Flickr photostream. Tony could then retweet that to all of his followers. His friend would be very grateful, as he would be broadcasting his friend’s photostream to a whole new group of people.
3. Decide on Your Twitter Presence and Schedule
Here’s where you’ll have to put some time and thoughts into your tweets. For Tony, since he’s concerned about photography, he’ll probably want to drive traffic back to his Flickr page and find new photographers and photos to share.
Next, you’ll have to decide on a tweet schedule. I learned to plan mine with the help of this post from Karlana’s World called My Tweet Plan for 2009. Consider planning on 5 posts daily, with a little room for @ replies to followers in between.
As Karlana mentioned in her post, a number of sites exist to help you tweet in advance. I use SocialOomph.com. For one, I can schedule tweets ahead of time. Two, it helps automate some other Twitter functions, like following all those who follow me and sending a friendly hello message. (Be careful on this one. As Twitter blows up, people are becoming more suspect of these “spam” like functions.)
More Tools for Twitter
As you become more experienced on Twitter, you’ll find a range of tools to help you make you’re tweeting experience more rewarding and efficient. The Twitter gurus at TwiTip list these 10 Twitter Tools To Help You Work Smarter.
All in all, Twitter is similar to other social media tools in that you’ll get out of it the time you put into it. You can be an effective tweeter at just 30 minutes a day. Think of it like working out.
It takes a steady hand and consistent presence to be effective, just as blogging does. The difference lies in its growth. Next to Facebook, Twitter looks to be the fastest growing social media site in the world.
– RolandVisit Website