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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