I wrote a post a couple of years back called 15 Twitter tips for beginners which, though two years old, still has useful information for Twitter users – especially if you make sure to read all the comments as well.
Needless to say, things have moved on considerably in the intervening period – bear in mind that post was written over a year before the launch of the iPad and seven months before version 1.0 of Android was released!
So here’s a quick updated version of the tips:
- Start off easy by posting a few innocuous posts introducing yourself and your interests, “I’m Tom, a Social Media and Sustainability expert”, “I recently moved to Seville, anyone on here from Seville?”, – that kind of thing. Then be sure to mention why you’re using Twitter, e.g. “I hope to learn more about cleantech”, or whatever it is you are hoping to get from it.
- Then build up your network. Start with friends who you know to be on Twitter. Start following them. But also look at the list of people they are following. You may know some of them too, if so, follow them as well.
- If you precede someone’s username with the @ symbol in a post on Twitter (i.e. “@tomraftery how is it going?”) then your post appears in the @Mentions tab on their Twitter page. This works whether they are following you or not. When you @reply to someone, and they see you appear in their @Mentions tab, they are likely to check out your profile and posts and may decide to follow you. This is a very powerful way to build up your network with people who don’t necessarily know you but with whom you want to connect.
- Check out the TwitterGrader page for your area, for instance, if you are based in Andalucia, in the south of Spain, like me, check the TwitterGrader page for Andalucia and you’ll find some interesting people you may want to connect to, to get into the local scene.
- Follow some of the people there, check who they are following and talking to (@ replying to) and consider following them too.
- Sidenote: if you precede someone’s username with “d ” (i.e. “d tomraftery how is it going?”) this sends a private message only to them – called a direct message or DM. You can only send DMs to people who have chosen to follow you.
- Also, don’t be shy about asking your friends to pimp you to their followers!
- On the computer use either Seesmic Desktop or TweetDeck for posting/reading posts. I prefer TweetDeck. Having said that, the Twitter web interface is still prob the best for checking people’s profiles and seeing who they follow.
- On the iPad /iPhone I use the Twitter iPhone client; On Android, I’m told Tweetdeck is best; and on Blackberry I hear Seesmic, Tweetcaster and Socialscope are good (though Socialscope is still in private beta) and
- On any phone the Twitter mobile interface and dabr – are great web-based mobile Twitter clients
- Always remember, if you @reply someone looking to get their attention or hoping they will follow you, they will likely click through to check out your Twitter page. There are many bots on Twitter so to weed out real/interesting users from bots I always look at a persons most recent posts to see what they are talking about (if their posts are all links to one site, forget it!), I look at the number of people they follow vs the number of people following them. If they are following 1,000 say and have very few followers, it is a sure sign that they are a bot who just auto-followed lots of people.
- I also check out what the person says about themselves in the bio (so, if you want people to follow you, be sure to fill in your own bio!) and click to view their website site, if they have one .
- If you want people to follow you, then ensure your updates are not protected. Someone coming to your Twitter page and seeing Protected Updates is very unlikely to see any reason to follow you.
- Purely a personal preference, but I think it is far better to use your own name on your Twitter account than a handle. It is a matter of personal branding but to my mind, a Twitter account called @JohnDoe tells me more about the user than @stargazr49!
- Finally, a photo is also very important on your account, be sure to add one to your profile
- BONUS EXTRA TIP!!! – Use your Twitter username everywhere – add it to your email sig, put it on your business cards, leave it in blog comments – don’t spam, just do it where appropriate.
Then, using Twitter:
FWIW I’ll be writing many more posts about Twitter best practices, with a special emphasis on Twitter for Sustainability obviously, in the coming weeks and months – stay tuned!
You should follow me on Twitter here