Twitter is becoming more and more popular every day. People are using Twitter to keep in touch with friends and family, to meet others of similar interests, and to promote their brands. If you haven’t jumped on the Twitter bandwagon yet, you may be wondering just why you should or how to go about getting started. Let’s break it down into the basics.
Getting started is actually quite easy. Just go to Twitter and click on the tab that says, “Get Started – Join”. From there you’ll choose a user name and password to create your account. It’s adviseable to use your own name or some derivation of your name as your username. This way, people will associate your “tweets”, or 140 character messages, with you personally. You’ll probably also want to add a photo to your profile as well as a bio that tells folks about your interests and leads them to your website or blog, if appliacable.
Deciding what to include in your bio really depends on your reasons for wanting to network on Twitter. Are you reaching out to people you already know in an attempt to stay in touch or are you wanting to network for your business? Be sure to include information pertaining to the group you want to reach. For example, I want to reach other moms who may be interested in the same things that I am or might like to read my blog, so I say that I’m a mom, blogger, and freelance writer in my bio. I also include my blog addresses.
Once you’ve got yourself set up on Twitter, you’ll want to find “followers”, or people to tweet with. When I first joined Twitter, I was rather confused as to how to use it since I didn’t know anyone else using Twitter. I found a Twitter group on one of my social networks and began following others in the group based on their Twitter name. My twitter name is @marybabysteps. The @ symbol is how you make sure you tweet reaches its intended recipient and must be used when addressing a particular person. By the way, I used @marybabysteps as my Twitter handle rather than my own name because I was already known by this user name on several other networking sites and also because my full name is so common.
You may be able to import your e-mail contacts into Twitter depending on your provider. Another great way to find others is by using Twitter Search. Here you’ll type in a user’s name if you know it or a topic you’re interested in. Then you’ll be given a list of real time tweets containing your search term. With Twitter, you can simply click “follow” when you see someone that you’d like to connect with; there’s no need to receive an acceptance to your request. It’s likely that the person you chose to follow will then read your bio and your tweets, then decide to follow you in return.
ChirpCity allows you to find others in your city or town. Check out TwitterPacks to find people by industry or interest. Twibs is a place to find businesses on Twitter. Once you’ve established some followers, you can use Mr. Tweet to recommend new people to follow based on your current followers. Once you get started, you’ll find it’s easy to acquire new followers based on the relationships you form.
Get to Know Your Tweeps
“Tweeps” is a term often used to refer to the people you’re following or your “twitter peeps”. You’ll want to use Twitter to get to know others and form relationships, just as I mentioned above. If you’re out solely to promote yourself or your business, you’ll get nowhere fast. The best way to achieve your goal is to be genuine and to really engage others in discourse. Ask questions and offer information just as you would in real life. You’ll find yourself getting a sense of others. Once you form an online relationship and they see that you’re a person of worth and value, it will be more likely that your followers will want to check out what you have to offer.
You can use Twitter on the web, but this can become unwieldy and doesn’t make things like shortening URL’s and keeping up with your tweets very easy. I use the social software client, Twhirl, when I tweet because I can minimize the operation to the lower corner of my screen and keep track of my tweets while I work. Twhirl also allows me to shorten URL’s easily (remember, tweets can only be 140 characters long) and lets me retweet with the touch of a button. “Retweeting” is repeating a tweet of value and is greatly appreciated by your followers. Many of my online friends use TweetDeck as their service of choice. It’s really a matter of preference.
There is so much more involved in using Twitter, but this should get you started on becoming comfortable with using Twitter for social networking. For more information, I recommend this great article from Premier Social Media about building your Twitter community.