I found out the other day that I’m a couple weeks away from being on Twitter for three years. Three years? Really? And if you count the time I signed up, then almost immediately deleted my account, chances are I’ve already technically passed that milestone.
This isn’t to say that I’m a Twitter guru, because I’m not. When I first started, it took me a while to get comfortable with it and figure out how to make it work for me (maybe you feel that way, too?). There were hits and misses and bumps. Now, though, I feel like I’ve found my groove because I realized that I use Twitter as my work water cooler, the place I go to chat with work friends. I follow a lot of fellow makers because they interest me, are hilarious, are friends I want to support, or I want to keep up with what they are doing.
A water cooler atmosphere isn’t the only way to use Twitter. Other people use Twitter to promote their business, and they’ve found awesome ways to do that without being spammy (I envy them for that, in the best possible sense). Still others have found it a good platform to get their messages across and get heard. I’ve also been known to use Twitter to get the attention of service companies I use, like my cable company, my domain host, and my shop provider (it was faster than telephone support), and to ask questions before I buy products (it was faster than telephone support).
No matter how you use Twitter, or how you want to use Twitter, you have to start somewhere. If you’re considering jumping in, here are 5 Basic Twitter Tips to get you up and tweeting:
#1: Upload an avatar
Don’t be an egg (which is the default Twitter avatar – they kind of freak me out). I want to see your face, or your products, something to give me a clue who you are or what you do. Something I can remember and identify with, so when you tweet, I recognize you.
#2: Write in a description and put up a custom background picture
I want to know who you are and what you do. Be yourself, be pithy, and be sure to include your website in your profile. If you’re an artist, adding in a custom background picture is a must. That’s one easy way to extend your brand and give a visual snapshot of what you do.
#3: Talk to people, don’t just plug your work
This is the biggie for me. When all you do is promote your own products, it sends up a big red flag that you aren’t ready or willing to engage with people (which is the point of social media, and why I’m there). It also means that if I follow you, my timeline will full of product tweets from you. Unless I really, really dig what you do, chances are, I’m going to pass. This doesn’t mean you can’t promote yourself on there, either; you can. Just do it in moderation, and mix it up with non-promo tweets.
#4: Follow people because they interest you
…and not because you expect them to follow you back. If you’d like someone to follow you, talk to them, and give them time to see they’ve got a new follower. I sometimes forget to check who’s following me, and I know I’ve missed out on following someone interesting back. Some people only give me a few hours to decide before unfollowing me, so I’ll never know who those people are, much less be able to connect with them. Instead of constantly following and unfollowing people hoping for follow backs, find your friends on Twitter and start finding your favorite shops and people. Having Twitter friends helps me feel like I’m not just talking to myself.
#5: Don’t try to keep up with everything
The way Twitter works, with a constant, never-ending stream of tweets, it’s almost impossible to try to keep up with everything all of the time without going nuts. Use the list feature to set up different groups so that you can keep up with the people you most want to connect with. Lists are glorious, glorious things, and having different ones for different groups helps me not miss important announcements (especially if I’m short on time).
What about you? What’s your favorite Twitter tip? How do you make Twitter work for you?