So you’ve signed up for Twitter, followed your best friend and your spouse, and posted two updates. (You are in good company if one of your first updates says: “Trying to figure out Twitter.”) So now what?
Here are ten tips to get started.
- Look around and follow a handful of people. Look at who your friend or spouse is following. (By clicking the “following” link on their page.) Now, see who those people are following. Keep going along this way, looking at who people follow. Start following a few people who seem interesting.
- Now, sit back and watch for a while. Now that you are following some people, your Twitter home page will have a series of updates. Each time you look, there will be more, as the people you are following issue their own updates. Just watch for a few days; see what people say and how they say it.
- When you are ready, start updating yourself. Keep it limited at first. A good amount to work up to is between two and ten updates per day.
- Now . . . how do you gain followers? Interact! Send “@ replies” to people’s updates that you find interesting. That means if you see something interesting that Ashton Kutcher said, you update “@aplusk That is interesting. I recently wrote an article about that. It’s here: http://tr.im/irj3.” That will show up in Ashton’s “@ replies” list. Ashton may not notice, but then again he may.
- Another strategy: share links. Browse the web and find cool stuff. Share it. A good format is: “Wow, what a great way to get blueberry stains out of tablecloths. http://tr.im/irj3.”
- Another strategy: “Retweet.” I hate the word but the concept is simple. If someone says something that is cool, or shares a link that is cool, retweet it! Say Ashton has this update: “I want this new vehicle http://tr.im/irj3.” You check out the link and damn, it really IS cool! If you are pressed for time, you say this: “RT @aplusk I want this new vehicle http://tr.im/irj3.” (See, you just copy what he posted along with his name, so there is attribution, an RT.” If you have a minute more, you say WHY you think it’s cool: “Via @aplusk A new kind of electric skateboard. Whoa! http://tr.im/irj3.”
- If you find someone to follow who you think issues really interesting updates, you may want to tell people. When you do, it is considered proper form to use their Twitter name preceded by the character @. So “I am excited to follow @aplusk. So cool!” That way @aplusk can know that you announced you were following her, and feels good.
- One thing people look at when deciding whether to follow someone is ratio of followers to following. You should have more followers than you follow back. For a business, it can get to be more 50/50, but if you are following more than follow you, people assume you may be a spammer. I get lots of people following me that obviously are marketing something, with like 400 people they are following but like 100 followers.
- People use search.twitter.com to search for their own name (with the @ sign) to see if people are mentioning them. You should too. That way you will notice when people retweet your stuff (and that’s how Ashton finds out you are a big fan.) The whole ecosystem of Twitter is all about sharing. The more you share, the more people like you and the more they follow you.
- What’s up with the short links, like tr.im and is.gd and tinyurl.com and bit.ly??? Those are url shorteners. People expect to see shortened links in Twitter and speaking for myself, I mistrust people who post full, unshortened links because it feels like they are trying too hard to market something. (Remember, even if your purpose is to market, people are on a hair-trigger for filtering people out and dropping their follows). So, pick a url-shortener you like and use it. You enter a web address and it gives you a shortened url, suitable for the compressed world of Twitter. bit.ly and tr.im also let you see stats on who is clicking on the links you send out. This is also useful when you share links that you are not in control of.
Okay, I hope that is helpful. Feel free to follow me! My Twitter name is @bradrourke.