Twitter 102 from Bobbie: Or, Before you Twitter
I’ve read a bunch of articles that are either called Twitter 101 or should be. They all adequately describe what Twitter is and how you should use it, even how to get started. Some of those articles are downright genius – but I still find myself standing on street corners, in the office, at Starbucks and on the T, describing Twitter and explaining how I use it to someone, maybe even you.
So, consider this article Bobbie’s Twitter 102. This is how I use Twitter. You might find a better way, one more suited to your needs, especially if you are more mobile than I am – I spend a lot of time in front of a connected computer so my use of mobile apps is pretty limited.
I’ve had a Twitter account for a while, and actually muddled around a bit before I got “serious” (well, as serious as Twitter can be.) The best way to understand Twitter is just to use it. If you use it regularly for a couple weeks, you’ll also be in Starbucks explaining Twitter or, you’ll be trying to swear it off. (A friend told me I was a candidate for Twitterers Anonymous – any other takers?)
Twitter is your life in 140 characters or less. It’s like the Facebook status bar. But before you start Twittering about what you had for breakfast, think about what messages/images you want to convey. (But don’t swear off the “what I had for breakfast Tweets — just keep in mind that your followers will be reading this…like everything else on the Internet, it’s public.)
- Start with a goal. How do you define success? Make sure your actions support your goal.
- Is this your personal account? Is it a business account? Do you want to Twitter to support your current job? Or is it intended to support a job hunt? Think about your goals before you Twitter.
- Who is your target market? Think of Twitter the same way you would SEO a website. What are your keywords? What are your themes? Is it user friendly? Does it draw in the right audience to support your goals?
- Use your keyword list and http://search.twitter.com to find people who are talking about the things you want to talk about. Listen. Go ahead. Lurk. Who is important in the space? What events or Tweetchats are going on in your targeted space? What interests you? What makes you laugh, or cry, or say “hmmm”?
- If you don’t have them already, set up Google Alerts on your keywords. What’s out in the Blogosphere? Who’s making cool announcements in your space? What’s new? Bookmark interesting blogs and websites. Many will have links to Twitter users. Some can serve as fodder/links for interesting Tweets.
- Start tweeting. Go ahead. At this point, it is Tweeting to the great unknowing universe but Tweet away. Practice tweeting. Getting your message down to 140 characters can be challenging at first. (Use a URL shortener to get the characters devoted to your links down to a manageable number too. I use http://go2.vg as it is shorter than TinyURLs and I can make custom links.)
- Make sure your profile is focused on your goal too. Will a visitor be able to tell right away what you do and what your focus is?
- Once you have started to establish an identity you can start following others. Start with people who know you and what you do: others in your company or personal contacts. (I think it is important to have some tweets before you start hooking up with others. I am frequently followed by obviously new Twitterers. These people have no Tweets and no profile. I rarely follow back because they might be spammers– perhaps I will in the future but the initial opportunity for a connection is gone forever.)
- Find a TweetChat and lurk. I listened in on the first two weekly #journchats before I participated in the third one. The Twitter event brought together a number of PR people and Journalists. There were lots of great/interesting people involved in the event and I was introduced to several of the more active Twitterers. I found lots of new interesting people and many of them followed me back.
- Have fun! Twitter connects people on a personal level first and foremost — it is a SOCIAL media.