Today we will be giving you a comprehensive Twitter tutorial. Last week’s edition of Twitter Tuesday kicked off with a bang by offering 5 reasons of why use Twitter to begin with. Now that you have hopefully made the commitment to join, let’s talk about everything you need to know in this Twitter tutorial.
First up in this Twitter tutorial is the easiest step; it’s time to signup! You’ll go to Twitter.com and sign up. This is not unlike signing up for any other social media site which you may have joined in the past. Try to find a username which relates to your business as best as you can. With 200 million people already signed up, don’t be surprised if your first choice has already been taken, however.
There is also a limit of 15 characters for a username, so find something which people can remember easily and identify you with. One additional tip for choosing a name which I’ll offer is that shorter is better because this enables you to write slightly longer messages and when they are retweeted the message has a greater chance of not having to be edited to fit into the 160 character limit which I’ll cover in a moment.
Once you have signed up and confirmed your account, the first thing which you should do is fill out your profile and include your location, your website’s URL, and a short bio about yourself and what the point of your company or website is. Be honest with this information and try not to hide behind a pen name or anything else as people truly appreciate transparency. You’ll be tweeting your opinions and content, and you should be proud of that content enough so to provide your real name.
Next you should choose your avatar which will be the logo associated with your account and tweets. I recommend either using your company/website’s logo or your own picture as your avatar. This is your choice and there are advantages to using each individually.
Using your company logo is a sign of professionalism and helps to drive home your brand name. Conversely, using your own personal photo humanizes you and helps people to connect a face with your content. Just like using your real name in your bio, this also drives home transparency which is always essential for truly connecting with your audience and building trust.
You should also make it a point to create a custom background for your profile as this helps you stand out amongst other profiles and is another sign of professionalism. Next week I’ll show you how to easily create a background for your page, so be on the lookout for that.
How to Build a Twitter Following
Now it’s time to start following people and getting some followers of your own. Start off by following some reputable people in your niche which you are likely already aware of. Focus especially at first in just following people whom you respect and actually want to read tweets of. You should also take note of the people whom these people are following as you may have some overlap and be interested to follow them, as well.
If you don’t have anyone in mind right away, try doing a search at http://search.twitter.com/ for keywords which are related to your niche to see who is tweeting about it. When you find someone with insightful tweets on your topic of choice, follow them. Typically when you follow someone, they’ll check out your content and if they like what they see they’ll choose to follow you back.
This is why it’s important to take your profile, avatar, background, etc. seriously and fill it out in full with quality information because you never know who might take the time to check it out before deciding to follow you back.
I recommend that if someone has not followed you back after a few days after you have followed them, you should unfollow them. This is perfectly acceptable because Twitter has rules against users having far more people whom you are following versus the number of people following you. Therefore, you have to keep the number of people whom you follow pretty close to the number of followers which you have, and you can’t do that if someone chooses not to follow you back after you initially follow them, so it’s best to cut ties unless you are actually interested in what they are tweeting about.
That’s just scratching the surface when it comes to growing your following. Check out my post on 12 ways of how to get more followers on Twitter for more info.
Twitter has its own vocabulary and “Twitter terms” like retweet are now part of the public vernacular. Let’s look at some of the common terminology to use with Twitter and how to use each one.
I covered this earlier, but following someone means that you will get their tweets within your feed. This also means that they can send you a direct message. Typically by following someone new you can get them to follow you back, as well, as people like to help each other in building their follower numbers. Once you get to the point where you are seen as an authoritative twitter personality, people will follow you without your having to follow them back unless you want to.
That being said, don’t just follow people because they’ve followed you first, even in your early days. If their tweets are typically “check out this diet program” or something of the like, they could very well be just another of the millions of Twitter spammers who don’t provide any real content and use an auto tweeting program to push garbage offers on anyone who will listen.
You can converse with someone over your Twitter feed by preceding their name with the @ symbol. This is considered a reply to someone and you can have conversations with other Twitter users in this way. It’s good to avoid just having a lot of self serving tweets; seeing a lot of conversational tweets can encourage others to follow you.
Retweeting means that you are simply taking something someone has already tweeted and tweeting that same content on your own profile. The author of that original tweet gets credit for it, and your own followers can retweet that tweet once you put it on your profile. This is a great way to network with other Twitter users by showing that you liked their quality content and chose to share it with your audience. This gets them to notice you and perhaps follow you, as well.
Hash Tags (#)
Hash tags are used to designate topics which people might be searching for specifically while filtering out unintended uses of that word. For example, I’m a fan of the band “The Kooks”. They have a new record which they’re currently recording and they tweeted and mentioned on their website that you can get updates and conversational bits about that record by both the band and fans on Twitter by searching for “#KOOKS3”. Not that “Kooks3” by itself would be searched for on its own, but you get the idea of how you can differentiate between an everyday keyword and a version of that keyword which is intended for search purposes.
You can even set up an RSS feed for a stream of posts for a specific search term using the hash tag in this way so that you’ll be in the loop about all updates/new tweets which mention that term.
A tradition which has been around nearly as long as Twitter itself is #FollowFriday when each Friday some users do a roundup of other users whom they like the content of and send a tweet out which is preceded by the tag #FollowFriday. Another great way to network.
HT (Heard Through)
Unlike RT, HT means that you heard about something through another Twitter user but not through a tweet of theirs but rather elsewhere online, in person, or from some other form of contact. You are giving that person the credit of hearing it through them using this Twitter term.
Shortening Your Links
Obviously with a constraint of 160 characters you can’t use standard links. Instead there are a number of link shorteners which do just that and shrink your URLs down to a manageable handful of random characters. I use Hootsuite to manage my Twitter and other social media profiles and it enables you to shrink any of your links down to just 10 characters or so.
You can click on the star icon below any tweet to label it a “favorite”. This adds that tweet to your list of favorites so you can see it anytime you want.