10 Tips to Get Started with Twitter

I have been getting a lot of Twitter newbie followers, some folks who I am inducting to Twitter and others who read my blog, or have worked me at some point of time. I try to get them started by giving them tips and introducing them to people they can follow. So what’s my advice to get started on Twitter? Well Twitter is different things depending on how you use it and you need to experiment to figure out what works for you.

Here are 10 tips to get you started with Twitter.

  1. Be human and introduce yourself to the world: When you set up a Twitter account, the first thing you should do is to write a short catchy bio about yourself and your interests. The second is to upload your photo or an avatar. I personally prefer a photo. These two things make your Twitter account more ‘human’. Remember, there is nothing more irritating than to be followed by a bot, or a profile that doesn’t appear to be human. Tip update: Provide a link to your LinkedIn page in your profile.
  2. Don’t start with a blank slate: Start off with some tweets before you actually start following people. Going to a Twitter page with no updates is a great turn off, and you aren’t really going to get any connections with an empty page (other than auto-follows). (I personally don’t like the term ‘followers’, I prefer connections. I am okay with the term ‘following’ though.).
  3. Start with simple tweets: Wondering what to start tweeting about? If you are going to use Twitter to build a professional identify, DON’T start tweeting about what you had for breakfast or dinner etc. You could tweet about an interesting link (that is relevant professionally or newsworthy). Note, I say ‘tweet about’. That means you should write your two-cents worth about the link to tell the world why you are sharing the link. You could also start by re-tweeting (RT) something you found interesting on other people’s tweets. You could even start by responding to other people’s tweets (@ replies).
  4. Stay within 140 character limit: Use URL shortener to reduce the length of the link you are sharing. Twiter web page, which I am assuming you will start with when new to Twitter, doesn’t have any URL shortener. Once you graduate on to a desktop Twitter application, this shouldn’t be a problem since most apps come with some (or many) URL shortening options.
  5. Start following the right people: Who are the right people and how do you know who to follow? Well, I am assuming that you’ve been introduced to Twitter by someone who is already on Twitter. So follow that person. Next look at who this person is following or who are following this person. Look for the bio and tweets to see whose tweets might be of interest to you. I would recommend following people who are more active, both in terms of frequency and number of tweets, and who have a healthy mix of conversation in their tweets.  You could also use Mr. Tweet to get additional recommendations after you have started following a few people.
  6. Chose who to follow based on your threshold: Initially you may want to avoid following people who tweet a lot (like more than a few tweets a day). Use followcost to check tweet frequency of who you want to follow. This is really helpful since of the things you’ll need to learn is how to deal with info overload. I mentioned in a previous post, if you have trouble with dealing with your email (“Oh gosh, I have so many emails to respond to…”, which BTW is a function of your ability to deal with transactions, not a function of number of email messages you get), Twitter is NOT for you.
  7. Follow back selectively: Don’t get too worried you don’t get many connections (followers) initially. Not everyone who you follow will follow you back. And you don’t HAVE to follow back everyone who follows you. Follow back only if you think the tweets will be of interest to you. This is contrary to the general ‘twitiquette’ that you may read elsewhere. I feel you should follow those whose tweets you find valuable, and people who find your tweets valuable will follow you.
  8. Install a Twitter desktop application: I recommend TweetDeck. However this needs higher RAM. You could also use Twhirl.
  9. Be consistent: It takes a while to ‘get’ Twitter. Give yourself time and be consistent – consistent in logging on Twitter, consistent in following people, consistent in tweeting. Do this once a day preferably, or at least three-four times a week. 
  10. Join the conversation: If you feel you aren’t getting anything out of Twitter, remember you will get what you put in. If you aren’t contributing to Twitter conversations, you won’t get much out of them.

Bonus 11th tip: Be patient.

Update: You may also find Gina Minks’ Twitter Cheat Sheet useful.

Image by: nico.cavallotto