Twitter is a social network where you communicate with others using 140 character updates (tweets). Like Facebook you can follow people to see their updates, unlike Facebook you don’t have to be following someone, or them following you for you to converse with them.
The biggest thing you need to overcome when using Twitter is the whole ‘never speak to strangers’ mantra. Most people when they first sign up to Twitter feel like they should only speak to people they already know, but the whole point of Twitter is to connect with people you don’t already know, as well as strengthening relationships with those you do. People won’t think it rude if you start talking to them or join a conversation, and it’s amazing how many friends you will quickly make on Twitter.
How do I start?
Visit www.twitter.com and click sign up. Make sure you fill out your profile and include a picture (avatar), tell people a little about yourself, who you are, what you like to do and if you have a blog or website include a link. Often people scroll through their follower’s list to decide which people to follow back, if they can’t see any information about you they could easily skip over you. If however they can see you have things in common they are more likely to follow you back.
Here are a few bits of Twitter slang to start you off:
RT/retweet – This is when someone shares what you have tweeted with all their followers.
TT /top trends – You will find these on the right hand side of your screen, these are popular topics which are being talked about on Twitter. Click on them to see tweets on that subject.
#/ hash tag – These can be used in different ways, if you are having a group discussion you can all use the same hash tag at the end of your tweet and then by clicking on that hash tag people can view the whole conversation. For instance Crafter Minds do a weekly discussion using the #crafterminds hash tag. Alternatively, it can be used to give more information about the subject of your tweet for example:
Sewing World is the best, full of great projects and articles #favouritemagazine
@ – putting the @symbol in front of someone’s Twitter name directs your tweet at them, or lets them know you have mentioned them. This means it will show up in their mentions so they know you are talking to/about them. If you forget to add the @ symbol in front they may not spot your comment. Where it says @ and your twitter name on your screen click on that to see who has mentioned you.
#FF – This means Follow Friday, you use this hash tag followed by people’s twitter names (with the @ in front) to recommend other tweeters to your followers.
DM/Direct Message – This is a way of sending a private message to someone on Twitter so that only they, and not all your followers, will see it. Click on messages at the top of your screen to view and send messages. Someone must be following you in order for you to be able to message them.
Who to follow
One good way to find new followers with similar interests to you is to find a magazine or website which covers your interest and go through both their followers, and the people they follow and you will probably find many that interest you too.
You can also use the search box at the top of the screen to search for keywords relevant to your interest and follow people who are discussing the things that interest you.
Getting new followers
As with all social networking the best way to pick up new followers is to interact, start talking to people and you may find that they decide to follow you. Their followers will see them chatting with you and they might follow you a well. Someone might retweet something you said and that can pick you up more followers too.
Things to remember
- Never post in haste, things spread incredibly quickly around Twitter and it’s hard to take something back once you’ve said it. Think carefully about what you say as once you post it is public.
- If you are using Twitter to promote your business remember that what you say reflects on your brand. If you tweets are full of spelling errors, poor grammar, swear words, etc that could put off potential customers.
- Keep self promotion to a minimum, if you start to spam people with lots of links to your site or telling everyone how great your products are you will find your follower numbers drop quickly.
- Be sociable, interact as much as possible, chat to people even if you don’t know them, retweet other people’s posts and join in as much as you can. That is the best way to get the most from Twitter and to quickly make Twitter friends.
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