We’re going back to the basics with this post. How do I use Twitter? With 140 Million active users and growing, Twitter continues to show it’s here to stay. Yet I know so many that should be using it as a tool that haven’t stepped up to the plate. Hopefully this info will help those individuals on the sidelines to jump in and join the platform.
Twitter Name (Handle) – Depending if this account is personal or business will determine what you choose. There is a max of 15 characters for your handle. Keep it as tight as possible. A shorter handle will give you more flexibility with tweets. So think @rjones instead of @randyjones.
Avatar/Picture – Do not succumb to the dreaded “egg” default avatar. Have an avatar/picture ready to go when you’re first registering. If you been on Twitter for a while and still show the egg, shame on you. Go into Settings – Profile – Picture and upload an image immediately. There is absolutely nothing positive about the Egg. Most see it as laziness and inexperience. Get something up immediately, you can change in the future if needed. The maximum size is 700K, JPG, GIF, and PNG.
Biography – You have 160 characters to tell the Twitter world about yourself or your company. Put your interests, objectives, and/or description of product/services. This is another area of your Twitter profile which should not be neglected. You really want to get your message across to other users, and let them know who you are and what you do.
Tweet – A message containing up to 140 characters
Tweep – A user on Twitter
Mentions – This is whenever someone uses your handle (i.e. @sbhsbh) in their tweet.
@reply – An update posted by clicking the “reply” button on a tweet. The reply will begin with @username
#Hashtags - Categorize Tweets by Keyword. Pick your spots using #hashtags. Don’t over do it…
Retweet – Hitting the Retweet button will share that tweet with your followers without adding a comment
Retweet (RT) – The act of copying a tweet and sharing your comments as Retweet. This has become an extremely popular way to retweet.
Direct Messages (DM) - This is your private Twitter Mailbox. Many send automated messages as soon as you follow them. Most people ignore the existence of the messages and the mailbox. It’s up to you.
Twitter Interface and Best Practices:
Tweets – A tally of the messages that you’ve sent. This is the heart of Twitter.
Following – The number of Tweeps (users) that you follow. When you first start, look to follow people you know and/or Tweeps that are of interest to you. So business and personal friends is a good place to start. Follow companies and celebrities if you would like, just keep your expectations low for replies to your tweets, especially with celebrities.
Following Best Practice Tip – Follow users that are active and have a following/followers ratio close to 100%. Generally these balanced users are more apt to follow you back.
Followers – The number of tweeps (get use to it) that are following you. This number is perceived in many circles as the “important” number. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of tools out there to inflate that number.
Follower Best Practice Tip – Try to make a handshake every time someone follows you with a tweet back to them. While this can be as simple as a “Thank You”, you can also ask a question bases on their topics, where they work, or where they are located.
Lists – A very important part of managing your Twitter account, especially as your following/follower numbers grow. Lists help you group users by topic, interests, or location just to name a few. You may have a list of everyone that tweets about politics, or a list of people from DC. It’s wide open on how you want to group users for your lists. You can create 20 lists with 500 users each.
List Best Practice Tip – Utilize lists from the beginning. It will make your experience on Twitter efficient and fruitful. Going back and creating lists after you are following a few thousands users is a headache. Lists can also be viewed easily through a Social Media Management Dashboard such as Hootsuite.
Interactions – Here you will see all your mentions, Retweets from others retweeting your tweet , and tweeps that just followed you
(view from Interactions)
Stories – Headlines that are breaking on Twitter
Activity – Highlights the latest retweets and follows from people you follow
Who to Follow – Twitter suggests users to follow based on the users you currently follow
Find Friends – Allows you to search contacts from your e-mail clients (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL) that are currently on Twitter
Browse Categories – Shows a wealth of categories and suggested people to follow
Some thoughts and suggestions to kickstart your Twitter experience:
Should I follow everyone? No, but you should follow just about all that follow you. Most often celebrities don’t follow you back. Why? Well they could care less about what you’re tweeting. Justin Bieber has 21 Million followers and actually makes an attempt by following back 122K, but most don’t follow back many at all.
Are you a celebrity? Do you want to come off as elitist? Twitter is much more about two way communication than other social platforms. Twitter invites the community to share and discuss with people you don’t know, and yes you can build relationships online. Ted Coine, with 125K followers wrote a great post, “Ted’s Twitter Follow-Back Policy” which should be embraced by more.
Suggested not to follow:
- Eggs (no profile picture or avatar)
- Blank Profiles (always suspect)
- Tweetless Tweeps (you’ll see they have thousands of followers with zero or little tweet activity)
- Use Explicit Language (you’ll see in their profile or Tweets)
- Low and inconsistent activity (You don’t want to follow back air)
12 Rules of Thumb:
- Be active and consistent (to get the most out of Twitter you need to show up)
- Communicate with others, don’t just broadcast
- Determine what your goals are for Twitter
- Keep the self-endorsements to a minimum (yes big brands too). They should be less than 10% of your tweets
- Add Value and Help/Promote others
- Don’t tweet more than once every 15 minutes (conversations or scheduled chats excluded)
- Every tweet doesn’t and shouldn’t have a link
- Retweet and mention consistently
- Reply to direct questions within a 24 hour period (the sooner the better)
- Say Thank You to those who’ve retweeted you directly or by retweeting something of theirs
- Have patience if you’re a business seeking results. It takes time…
- Have fun and enjoy the experience
I hope this helps you get off to a great start with Twitter. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I’m happy to help you get started.