Monthly Archives: December 2012
So, you’ve been on Twitter but you’re not sure of the best way to proceed. You thought about buying “The Twitter Book” but don’t have 20 euros to spend before Christmas/the end of the world/your next paycheque (choose appropriate). You can’t seem to find the free downloadable introduction to “Twitter Power” by Joel Comm.
Never mind.. just read on and follow these instructions for a great start to using Twitter. If you have questions, Tweet Me!
Choose a good Twitter handle
Take a little bit of time to choose your Twitter name (“handle”) well. Although you can change how your actual real name looks on your profile, you won’t be able to change your handle. Chances are your actual real name doesn’t exist anymore, so what can you do?
- Beware the addition of cheap numbers after your name. Who wants to be @johnSmith6875? If you can find a creative way to use numbers, go for it…
- If you are on Twitter to sell a product or service on Twitter, use your Twitter handle to reinforce your brand(name) – example @babybrussels
- If you are tweeting for or from your place of employment, be careful to not badly use their name in your Twitter handle
- Creative name creation is great. I use @BoyTurnsTurtle for non work-related tweeting and nobody said you actually have to use real words
- Be careful with other wierd characters – you may want to communicate your Twitter handle orally, so don’t use odd characters – I think my own handle @dan_steer is about as non-letter/number as you might want to go
- Make sure it is not too long. Twitter is limited to 140 characters and if you want people to “mention” you, you don’t want your long Twitter handle eating into their tweets – this will only annoy them
Take the time to make your profile good and complete
Along with your tweets, your bio is one of the first things people will see. Spend a moment on this…
- Write something about yourself in the bio and make sure to Be FAB to Be Heard
- Be consistent with other platforms – my original Twitter Bio is in line with my professional slogan: “I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating infinite learning opportunities”.
- Include a URL to your website, LinkedIn profile, book etc..
- If you are working on something specific or mid/long-term, you can consider having your bio as a kind-of static tweet. At the moment, mine is about the conference I will speak at in May 2013 – this will not change for a month or so
Background, colours etc..
- Again, updating the default settings is a minimum to show you are not a robot and actually care about your Twitter profile. Here is a simple background image that works quite well.
- You can get free and custom backgrounds for Twitter at http://www.twitrbackgrounds.com
- Consider creative uses of image, like here, to create brand consistency or a web-feel
- Check out this great free tutorial for Twitter background design
Use your Twitter photo
- Not having a photo/logo just looks sad – don’t be the guy with the wierd default Twitter egg. Fix it.
- If you use a personal photo, make sure we can actually see you. People like faces. But you can still do something a little different like I did.
- If you have a product or company logo that can look good as a Twitter logo, go for it
- Be consistent with other branding
Create 1 or 2 first tweets before you do any more
Its a chicken and egg thing: Should you start tweeting first or start following first? If you tweet first, no-one is following you, so its pointless. But the first reaction of many people you follow will be to look at your profile to see who you are and what you share. If there is nothing there they might not find you interesting and not follow. So, write 1 or 2 tweets before you follow people.
- Its OK to write something that announces your arrival on Twitter, but please don’t write the classic “So, this is Twitter. What is all the fuss about?” – its getting old…
- Include something useful in your first tweet that sets the scene – this could be a link to your own website or could already be a resource that is on-brand or related to your own area of expertise
…then start following people
Twitter offers you a bunch of ideas of who to follow. Personally, I think you should follow in the following order:
- Start with people who are on-brand with regard to your own interests (personal or professional) – in my case, this would be learning people
- Add only the famous people that won’t make you look stupid or bad. Sometimes your new visitors will look to see who you follow, in need of inspiration of a final push to follow you. Hopefully they won’t see porn-stars, random Justin Beibers or other odd people.
- By all means let Twitter use your contacts list to invite people to follow you, but think first if this is just going to be more spam in their inbox or if they are actually going to be interested in your tweets. Filter your list to include only the right people.
- Follow people who follow you?? There are lots of thought on this topic. Should you follow everyone or not? Personally, I have switched between “follow everyone who follows me” and “only follow people who tweet interesting things” without having ever decided. To meditate on…
What should I tweet?
The first answer to this question will always be “Whatever interests your (potential) followers” but to add a little weight to that I advise you to read points 5, 6 and 7 of my “9 must-remember guidelines to succeed with social media marketing”:
- Remember The Golden Triangle of Networking
- Stay on brand
- Blend your content
Personally, I try to offer as many relevant resources as possible via my Twitter account, mixing in my own ideas (like this blog) with those of others. I like to mention people and I try to make every tweet work as a stand-alone tweet when possible. Every now and again, I slip away from reference sharing to social or personal commentary, but this is quite rare.
Technically, HOW do I tweet?
If you like what you just read, the only thing now is to know how to ACTUALLY do it. Here’s a few simple ideas to get started with:
- If you see something interesting elsewhere on the internet, tweet it – example
- If you see something interesting on Twitter, retweet it – just click the button ..or “quote tweet” and use the letters RT if you want to add something to it yourself, like I did here
- Mention people with @ + their Twitter handle
- …you might “cc” them, just to say “hey, this is interesting” like here
- ..you could say “I got this (on Twitter) via @name” like here
- ..or if you included them in your own work, why not state it, like here
- ..or maybe ask someone a specific question, like here
- ..and thank people for retweeting/sharing your tweets/work, like here
- If replying to tweets, remember that your followers won’t see “the full picture” without extra effort – when I look at the Twitter streams of people who regularly have bits of conversation with people on Twitter, I get annoyed to not understand anything and my first impression is never “Here is someone who is useful for me to follow”.
- Favourite things you want to look at later, or to show you “like” the tweet
- Use a hashtag # to show that your tweet relates to a specific topic. As a general rule, place this at the end of your tweet, like here… unless you use the hashtagged word as part of your tweet sentence, like here.
Thanks for reading!
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What follows is a short article Tim wrote to share with other members of my LinkedIn group “Leadership Foundation”, where previous participants and people interested in the topic can share references outside of training. I think some of what you can read here is a great example of getting and staying in Flow – a wonderful story of intrinsic motivation and awesome success, despite drawbacks and a very busy life. As a fellow marathon runner, I know what it takes and Tim has done a great job!
As a side-note, my insurance broker asked me to underline that I can take no responsibility for injuries sustained outside of training with me 🙂 Any further attempts to complete a marathon remain unsanctioned 🙂
In June 2011, I followed Dan’s “Leadership Foundation Course” at Ghent University. During one of his classes on prioritizing, Dan stressed out that if something is really important, you just do it. If you don’t do it, it means it isn’t important. This struck me, as I always said to myself “one day, I will run a marathon”. Up to that day, I didn’t run it, it was one of the things on my bucket list, something I wanted to prove to myself but I hadn’t done it yet… Was it really important to me? I didn’t want people to mock me as “the guy that runs a marathon with his mouth but not with his legs”… So, on that very day I made the decision that in 2012 I was going to run a marathon!
I had some running experience previously but I never ran further than 15km. In August 2011, I started training 3x a week to run a half marathon. I accomplished this goal in November 2011. It was hard, but I enjoyed the race and achieved my time goal as well. Ok, this was only half the distance I needed to run and winter was coming up which makes training harder… I decided to maintain my level of training throughout winter and spring and use summer to get in shape for the complete marathon.
In April 2012, I needed to pick the marathon I was going to run. I felt I needed something big, not a race where only 5 people and 6 horses are watching. So I enrolled for the New York City marathon. This was it, the registration was final, my flights were booked, I had some supporters to join me, now I really had to run the race, no way back… I had my physical condition tested in the University Hospital in Ghent and via a mutual connection, I got in touch with a multiple Belgian marathon champion. My new coach did a test run with me and gave me a schedule for 6 weeks after which I had to do a test over 5km to see how my progress was. We are now August 2012. The schedule consisted of 5 trainings a week: 2 interval training (very fast and exhausting), 1 very long and slow training and 2 recuperation trainings. As I still had my daytime job to do and I’m also involved in a contemporary dance group (for which I have to train 3 evenings a week), I knew I was going to be busy the next couple of months… Some days were quite hectic: getting up at 6h, starting work at 7h, finishing at 18h, going home and eat in a quicky off to dance class, returning home at 22h, suiting up for a run of 1 and ½ hour, taking a shower and going to bed at 1h. But I really wanted this, I wanted to run the marathon, I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, I wanted to be an athlete and I wanted to be able to say “one day, I ran a marathon” instead of “one day, I will run…”.
Six weeks later, my coach was happy with my progress and adjusted my training for the next six weeks. He really wanted me to perform at the best of my ability so the training volume increased. In November, I felt ready for it. My physical condition and confidence were peaking, I was going to conquer New York! Until hurricane Sandy arrived… The race was on Sunday 4th of November, we wanted to take a plane on Monday to adjust to the hour difference but Sandy made it impossible to leave… Our flight was rescheduled to Friday. Less recuperation time, but I still felt confident and motivated! We arrived in NY, retrieved my runner’s number… and found out just 15 minutes later that the marathon was cancelled… I have never felt so disappointed as I felt that moment. Three months of training, all for nothing…
The next morning I decided that this wasn’t going to stop me: I was going to run a marathon and I was going to run it as soon as possible! The same day, I signed in for the marathon of Valencia which was held 2 weeks later. I contacted my coach and he adjusted my training schedule. Back to the training ground…
Two weeks later, after all the training, the disappointment, the new trainings, I was more motivated than ever before. I was going to Valencia and I was going to give it all I’ve got! And so it happened that last Sunday November 18th, I finally did it. I ran the marathon of Valencia in 3h 23min 59sec. I was hoping for a time under 3h 30min and I achieved my goal. During the race, after 32km, I endured a pain I had never witnessed before but I kept going. Pain wasn’t going to stop me, everyone was suffering at that point, I had to succeed. Despite of the pain, I enjoyed the race. The atmosphere was great, especially during the last kilometer. When I entered the “stadium” were the finish line was and I heard the roaring sound of the crowd, my legs felt brand new and I sprinted like reborn to the finish line. I was an experience I will never forget, for that one moment I really felt like an athlete at the Olympics with thousands of people cheering for me. Once I crossed the finish, I was barely able to walk normal and I thought to myself “When did I ever had this stupid idea to run a marathon??!!”. But a couple of hours later, I was thinking “Actually, this was pretty cool, I might do it again one day…”.
To conclude, after a course of just one week, Dan Steer controlled my life for almost a year… Thanks Dan, for triggering me to really go for my dreams! I suffered I don’t know how many hours in rain, wind and cold on the road, but I enjoyed every minute of it! And perhaps even more important than finishing the marathon (of which I feel so proud), I now feel like I can accomplish everything I want! It really was an experience I will tell my grandchildren about and I all started one day in a class room at Ghent University with Dan Steer…