How to Use Twitter for Beginners
Twitter is considered a micro-blog. “Tweets” consist of only 140 characters that may, or may not, include an image that also accounts for some of that allotted 140 character space. Approximately 200 million users tweet out information every day.
You might think Twitter is just for celebrities, news anchors or sports figures, but that is far from the truth! Twitter is a highly-effective channel for communication and I don’t mean purely broadcasting out “Hey, come see my website and buy my stuff!” Twitter done right is a TWO-WAY communication and LISTENING platform. Brands and individuals who don’t get that find themselves being un-followed or not followed at all.
Many brands and small business owners are using Twitter as a marketing tool to help grow their customer bases. It used to be considered a “free” marketing tool. However, now that Twitter is a viable piece of just about every marketing plan, people are waking up to the fact that it takes TIME to do Twitter right. Yes, using Twitter is free but the time you need to invest should be taken into consideration.
First of all, become clear with your reasons for beginning to use Twitter. The more intentional you can become about this, the more focused and effective you can be.
GETTING STARTED AFTER YOU DECIDE YOUR WHY
Now that you’ve spent some time figuring out your WHY, let’s get you set up:
- Go to Twitter.com and begin the sign-up process. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Be sure and choose a Twitter “handle” or “name” that matches your branding on all your social media channels.
- Be sure and keep your sign-in information and password in a safe place.
- IMPORTANT: Load a profile pic immediately. If you don’t, Twitter will automatically show an egg where your face is supposed to be. If you are tweeting on behalf of your company or someone else’s company, you will want to add their logo into that profile pic instead of a profile pic. Having said that, I highly advise when you are first starting, to always use a headshot. People will follow back accounts with profile faces quicker than a corporate logo.. .unless you are Starbucks.
- Choose a header background and feel free to be creative! If you can brand your Twitter landing page to match your website and Facebook page, that is best.
- Don’t wait to tweet something out. Twitter is a stream. Just jump in.
- Send out several tweets to get started. Saying “Hi, this is my first day on Twitter!” is perfectly fine. Don’t be shy.
- Fill out your bio thoroughly. HELPFUL HINT: If your target audience is, for example, Austin, Texas, add #Austin to your bio. People tend to follow accounts that have a hashtag or two in their bio that are relevant.
WHO ARE YOU
If you are tweeting from a personal account and representing your own “personal brand”, rule #1 is BE AUTHENTIC. However, at the same time, realize that every possible future employer or client could see what you tweet (unless your account is locked to private which is missing the entire point of social media). BE INFORMATIVE. BE ENTERTAINING. PROVIDE VALUE. Why would anyone want to follow you? In this noisy social media world, everyone is vying for attention. Your best bet is to be truly you (as long as you’re kind, helpful and someone who shares knowledge).
If you are speaking/tweeting on behalf of a brand or a client, the same applies to you. Understand the voice of the brand and stay close to that voice. Know the consistent messaging of the brand. Realize and be cognizant of who your audience is.
WHO TO FOLLOW
One of top secrets for getting others to follow you back is to FOLLOW OTHERS FIRST. When you are first starting your Twitter village, you want to have a goal of getting at least 100 followers. If you are a graphic designer, for example, don’t just follow people in the graphic design world! Follow a doctor, a hairdresser, a plumber, a mid-wife, a CEO, a travel blogger… my point is to have a wide variety of folks in your original following to get a big world view of Twitter.
RANDOM HELPFUL THINGS
Since Twitter only gives you 140 characters, you MUST shorten long URLs. All you have to do is copy the long URL and paste it into their format. Here are my favorites:
If you use an automatic posting platform like Buffer or Hootsuite, they offer URL shorteners in their posting tools.
Images are VERY important
The last statistic I saw was that there is a 70% higher probability that someone will retweet or somehow engage with you when you attach an image to your Twitter post. (Tip: If you’re not using Instagram, what are you waiting for? When you post to Instagram, you can set it up to go out as a tweet AND post to your Facebook. People don’t normally like automated things on social media but this is an exception!
Secret success formula
You can often spot a newbie on Twitter who hasn’t yet learned the Secret Formula. Their tweets will be, for example, “Buy my thing! Look at my website! Click through and watch my amazing video!”
To quote Gary Vanderchuk, the Secret Formula is: Give, give, give, give, give, Ask.
Then you can ask for a favor or ask your followers to look at your website or consider giving you their email address or whatever it is that you are asking for. Do unto others as you would like them to do for you, just GIVE. It will come back to you exponentially!
WHAT TO DO
Here are the steps when you want to check into Twitter on your desktop (depending upon what app you use to view/use Twitter on your mobile device, this could be slightly different).
- Log in to your account (okay, so that’s kind of obvious)
- In upper left-hand corner, you’ll see “home, notifications and messages.
- NOTIFICATIONS is the very first thing you want to check! (I’m kind of yelling this.) NOTIFICATIONS is what you click on to see if (a) you have been mentioned or called out in someone’s tweet (b) you have been retweeted (c) you have been followed by someone new and or (d) you have been listed.
- Checking NOTIFICATIONS is super important first thing because you want to acknowledge when someone notices you and interacts with you in some way. Common ways to tweet back: “Thank you for the RT!”.. .’Thank you for following!”.. .’Thank you for listing me!”
- After you’ve checked NOTIFICATIONS, click on the HOME button on upper-left-hand-corner. Then click on FOLLOWERS. Browse through your new followers and decide who you are going to follow back.
- As for the third option from the left – MESSAGES – I tend to ignore that and check only monthly. There is where you will see messages that are private (also called DM’s). Since the majority of people don’t realize that automatic DM’s are spammy, when you check MESSAGES you tend to only see spammy content like “Now that you’ve followed me on Twitter, follow me on Facebook”. Ewwwww. The only time I tend to check private messages on Twitter is when someone publicly tweets to me “Hey, Carole, I’ve sent you a PM.” Then I check because I know it’s for real.
You have to make using Twitter a priority in the beginning as you ramp up! Time management is critical. If your marketing staff consists of only one or two people, it’s essential that you stay on top of your social media strategy by prioritizing your quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily objectives and goals. Budget your time carefully. Choose a limit and even set a timer so you don’t fall into this lovely rabbit hole called Twitter. It can be fascinating and suck you in and before you know it, 5 hours have flown by.
If you’re using a scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer, plan your tweets to go out an hour apart and up to 10 tweets a day is about right.
Remember that Twitter is a stream. Jump in and have fun. Don’t overthink it as you are getting started. Allow yourself to play and have fun. Do some searches in the search bar by keywords to find some interesting people to follow.