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37 easy Twitter tips for new users to get started

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..

 

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”:

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.

 

Have fun!

 

Thanks for reading!

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Permission to Tweet?

I recently spotted this on Twitter during a break from training and wondered: Should you ask permission to Tweet?

 

When I go to conferences, it seems normal to Tweet about the conference content, speakers, themes etc .. and of course, there is often a hashtag available and we are encouraged to Tweet.

But what if we are not encouraged?

With the digital age and the ability to share anything anywhere anytime, its clear that people WILL decide for themselves to share things that cross their path. But where is the line?

 

A few weeks ago, I was in a small meeting with some of my peers discussing approaches to onboarding. One of them made an interesting point. He is on Twitter, so I tweeted it, with reference to him. Is this cool?

From my point of view, I was not unhappy to see the above photo tweeted during training ..but I can imagine some people would be.

 

I’d be happy to have your thoughts…

What do you think? Since we CAN share anything, CAN WE?

Why I have restricted my Tweets on LinkedIn

 @sabinetobback from @kluweropleiding asked me the question: What do you think about linking Twitter to LinkedIn. She told me that @janvermeiren warns of the dangers of this in his free eBook about How to Really Use LinkedIN

I asked @janvermeiren what he thought, along with @fredericw and @lucgallopin and I did a good bit of googling…

This is what I replied to @sabinetobback in our LinkedIn discussion…..

 

There are multiple issues. It mostly depends on your network, what you want (eg visibility vs. real content) and what you are tweeting (professional vs. non-professional).
I made a wallwisher site to show the results of my investigation – check it out here http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/twitterlinkedin
In my own case: All my tweets are “stand-alone content sensible”, professionally onbrand and providing resources on communication, leadership, learning and personal effectiveness.

…. but I am not worried that I spam LinkedIn users too much.

However, LinkedIn successfully drives a lot of users to my blog content, so the interest is there.

Tough one….

I have decided to allow LinkedIn to only have Tweets with #IN hashtag from now on. This is achieved in the setting page of my LinkedIn profile. Those tweets will be my own original thoughts leading to my own content.

We’ll see how it goes (and if I remember the #IN tag 🙂 )

…hopefully the “loss” of 3 characters will be OK 😉

Thanks @sabinetobback for the inspiration
DAN

 

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Is Social Media making me Anti-Social?

Proof number 1 … or am I just a lousy networker?

  • I was so busy trying to QR scan a conference member’s badge at VOV that I didn’t even look her in the eye when I said hello… this lasted a very long and afterwards-embarrassing 2 minutes or so.

 

Proof number 2 … or do I just spend too much time on Facebook?

  • I see less important people on Facebook more often than I see more important people in real life. Like?

 

Proof number 3 … or am I just a bad brother?

  • I get more status updates about my sister from a friend-of-a-friend on FB than I do from her herself.


Proof number 4 … or am just a sad iPhone freak?

  • I rarely experience real life without at some point pulling out my iPhone to watch it through a lens. See also Proof number 1 and this short film clip on why Louis C.K hates Twitter.

 

Proof number 5 … or am I heading for divorce?

  • My wife went to bed ages ago and I’m still playing on WordPress !

 

Don’t follow me on Twitter. Please, it won’t help!

Just leave a comment…

 

Is Twitter really good for learning? (reply to @MiekWouters)

Reading @MiekWouters post about Twitter this morning on @KluwerOpleiding blogspot http://www.learninglive.be, I’m wondering: WHAT can be learnt on Twitter? Can it really increase competence? These are the questions I spend my time debating with non-Twitter lovers..

If we define competence as knowledge, skills and attitude, its clear to me that Twitter usage/benefits differ greatly per each one…

 

For knowledge, its really great. I have learnt so many new things via Twitter. The possibilities are endless …which leads to some of the issues with Twitter: How can you filter quality? Are you getting “the whole picture”? Who is right and who is wrong?

These problems are not new with Twitter and can be seen in all knowledge-sharing systems. Some organisations are tackling this issue by defining “knowledge coaches” who act as a hub or connector in the organisation to help people find their way through the masses of available information. Its clear that there is plenty out there, but how can we be sure to get the right stuff in?

 

Regarding skills, I already think Twitter is not as useful. I of course agree that new skills can be learnt outside of a formal training environment and some Web 2.0 tools are great for this. I recently learnt how to make Scoubidou’s for my 6 year-old using YouTube. If I didn’t have YouTube, I’d have had a crying daughter! …but Twitter already performs less well for me:

  • It is mostly only a hub to other places and therefore not the answer in itself (although its still a great hub)
  • With online skill-learning, it is very important to get feedback on your performance – Twitter can be a feedback channel, but that is not about the technology itself, rather the users using it ..and I think other forms of feedback will always be better
  • All I do on Twitter is share and discuss, not actually practice (unless its communication skills and the ability to make short messages)

 

I think Twitter can be useful for attitude. It’s a great base for conversation, discovery and sharing. As with almost everything in our creative era, Twitter can give you access to new cultures, new points of view, new information, discussion, border-crossing… This is brilliant news for open-minded people who want to reflect on their own approach, beliefs, processes. In the last few months I have followed some great TwitterChats with @C4LPT and @RealWpLearn on learning in the organisation and “met” some really interesting people with some really interesting views. This allowed me to learn new knowledge, but also to think about my attitude, my assumptions. Twitter is not the only tool for this attitude-based learning – any communication can help – but the sheer potential of the network of people is blinding.

 

In summary, Twitter is great! …but you can’t learn everything with it.

…fortunately, because I’m a trainer 🙂

 

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3 Twitter stories to convince you to get on the train

If you have a company brand to protect and grow and you are not already active on social media sites, read on. These 3 stories pretty much seal the deal for me. It’s time to get social!

 

When I looked out the window, I saw that she was right…

In Barcelona last week I was discussing the corporate use of social media with one of my clients. He told me about why the global CEO was now considering getting on the train. Apparently, some months before GreenPeace had chained themselves to parts of the corporate head-quarters. The CEO was busy working in one of the HQ offices, unaware of what was going on in the same building. He received a call from his daughter asking “Dad, what’s going on? I saw on Twitter that GreenPeace are protesting at your offices”. When he looked out the window, he saw what she was talking about. Twitter brought the news faster than getting up and looking out the window!

 

OOOoh, we’re on Twitter!!!

One of my clients told me on Monday that she never really cared about “all this social media stuff” until the other day. She had just organized a conference with other similar organisations. The next day, one of her colleagues (active on Twitter) stood up excitedly in the office and said “We’ve been mentioned* on Twitter!”. Everyone was very all of a sudden very excited …. …later that day, they asked themselves if it wouldn’t be a better idea to be driving what was said on social media sites, rather than passively being informed about their own brand.

 

*by name only, not @name, since they were not “on Twitter” at this time

 

I’ve seen what you are up to. Can you come and see me to discuss more?

Personally, I’ve been blogging, tweeting, posting walls and YouTubing for a little over a year. It’s fair to say I’m addicted, but it’s also fair to say that I have learnt a HUGE amount from social media in this short time. Last August, I got the first real confirmation that my activity was also useful for brand-reinforcement. Since I link my tweets to linkedin, someone from my extended network of contacts had been watching everything I’d been up via that site. She was once an HR consultant at my previous employer and is now Training Manager for a large telecoms company. I had been sharing and posting ideas as usual …she had been following. In August, she sent me an email for the first time in 6 years, saying “Dan, I see all the things you are doing and it looks interesting. Can you come and meet with me?”. Free marketing, reinforcing my brand via social media. Like 🙂

 

 

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