Twitter 101: Tips for Getting Started on Twitter

This is a repost from the Idea Sprouts Online Marketing Blog. A big thank you to Allison Semancik for featuring Miami Social Marketing and Liza Walton.

The original blog post may be found here. Tweet Tweet, everyone!

How do I use Twitter, anyway?

This is a question I receive a lot as a Social Media and Marketing Professional: “So, I signed up for Twitter. I still don’t get what all the buzz is about?”

How I got started on Twitter:

That was me when I joined Twitter back in 2007. I didn’t get it at first either. I set up an account, followed one or two friends that were already using Twitter, and my account sat there, dormant, for a few months.

I then decided to give it a second try.  I followed a few celebrities, chefs (food is my passion) and some news outlets. “Ok, this is a bit more interesting,” I thought.  I would log on to Twitter a few times during the week to get a quick update on what was going on in the world.  But what do all these symbols and letters mean? A quick Google search and I finally understood what I was reading in my Twitter feed.

Here are a few basics to help you decipher Twitter:

@name – That’s someone’s Twitter handle, or account. Using ‘@’ followed by a username (with no spaces) in your tweet will send a mention to the user you choose. For example, @name will send a mention to name, and the entire tweet will show up in his @mentions section, or you can reply directly to a tweet by beginning your reply with @name. (That is called an @reply.)

RT – This means “Retweet” It’s a recycled tweet from someone else. The RT is usually followed by @name, the Twitter account that originated the tweet.  (See Miami Olivia’s previous blog post for more details on the Retweet.)

DM – This is a Direct Message. It’s an inbox of sorts, and a direct message goes directly to the intended recipient in a private message.

Hashtags – Hashtags look like this: #topic. This tags a particular topic and makes it easily searchable on Twitter.

The importance of a profile:

One day I grew weary of seeing an “egg” for a profile picture, so I uploaded a photo and wrote a few lines about myself.  Suddenly, I started to get followers!  I was excited, but also a bit stressed out.

What do I say?

I hadn’t really tweeted yet.  What would I say?  I began by “Retweeting” interesting articles or funny tweets that I would read.  I then began following back my followers, and I soon realized I wanted to comment on what they were tweeting about.  I was a bit shy at first. I thought, “So, I’m going to tweet someone I don’t even know? Will they think I’m a stalker? Will they respond back?”  I finally got over my trepidation, and responded to a few tweets.  And I actually got responses back!  I was officially hooked.

The Epiphany:

I finally “got it.”  Not only is Twitter a news feed, but it is also a great way to meet new people, and have authentic conversations about topics that are interesting to me.  Soon, I began posting about my interests, and new followers began responding to my tweets.  And the best part is that I had, without even realizing, built a community of like-minded online (and soon to be offline) friends who were happy to help me make the most of Twitter.

Twitter on the go:

The final piece of the puzzle came when my social media savvy Twitter friends helped me pick out a smart phone and taught me how to install a Twitter client application to begin “tweeting on the go.”  In my opinion, Twitter and social media for personal use is best when you can take it with you: Checking in to a restaurant, responding to a tweet while you’re in line at the bank, tweeting while attending a “tweet-up” with your Twitter friends, taking photos and uploading them right away when you see something funny, or checking the news while stuck at the airport.

So back to the initial question: “So, I signed up for Twitter. I still don’t get what all the buzz is about?”

Here is a step by step on how I get new Twitter users up and running based on my personal experience:

  1. Make sure they’re not an “Egg Head” and encourage them to upload a photo and a pithy bio.
  2. Download Twitter or other Twitter Application to their smart phone.
  3. Help them follow several Twitter accounts based on their interests: Miami, Harry Potter, Food, Wine, Fashion, Sports, The Simpsons, you name it. There’s someone tweeting about it.
  4. Give them a quick primer and tutorial on what is an @reply, Direct Message, Re-tweet, etc.
  5. Encourage them to use Twitter as a newsfeed for a while. Check in now and then to see what’s going on in the world.
  6. I’ll then send them a few “@replies” so they get used to checking their @mentions and get them used to responding to tweets

Follow these few steps, and you’ll be tweeting like a pro in no time!

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