A friend of mine contacted me recently to ask if I had any tips for her as she had just joined Twitter. It was as I started to compose a reply that I realised this was something I should post about as she couldn’t be the only person feeling a little overwhelmed when starting out. I cast my mind back to when I opened my first Twitter account and thought that if I knew then what I know now, I would certainly have found it easier getting going. (My friend’s account is Digitab by the way, why not give her a follow??). And so, this beginners guide to Twitter started to take shape.
It has been a while since I last wrote about Twitter and when I did it was quite a targeted post about a specific tool (5 ways TweetDeck will save you time). This is a much more general set of suggestions, a set of best practices if you like, that will set you on the right track if you’re starting out.
You may question how I am qualified to write this post being as I have, at the time of writing, just 239 followers. Maybe after publishing this post my following will swell and I’ll have to remove this line – but as it stands I have a fairly small (but perfectly formed) following. But I’m here to tell you that there’s so much more to be gained from being active on Twitter than just accumulating followers. So here goes.
1. Follow people/organisations that you would like to be followed by
They’re more likely to follow you back if you follow them. If nothing else you’re letting them know you’re there. Monitor what they’re saying and engage with them (more on this later…).
2. Think about your profile
Your Twitter biog, profile and header photos have a huge influence on whether the people you follow will follow you back. Think about the messages you’ll looking to communicate and the way you present yourself. You know what they say about first impressions.
3. Tweet on topic, but keep it varied
If your company provide market research, tweet about market research. But don’t let this be the sole focus for your tweets. You need to display your personality. Too much focus on one topic can be a little dull.
4. Don’t be too ‘salesy’
It’s ok to promote your products and services, but not all the time. Mix these in amongst everything else.
5. Use hashtags
Especially when approved hashtags are being widely used. Use them when you’re live-tweeting or commenting on an event. If the hashtag is relevant to you then the people you want to engage with will be checking these timelines so make sure you’re in there. Regularly review what’s trending and decide whether you have anything to add.
6. Monitor mentions
You can use software to monitor keywords being used on Twitter. This can be particularly useful if you’re looking to join niche conversations. Speaking of which…
7. Retweet and reply
Retweet tweets you find really useful (in the same way as you ‘like’ things on Facebook) and reply to tweets to engage in discussions. Engagement is the watchword.
Not used as widely as it once was, but Follow Friday is still a nice way of saying, ‘this guy/gal knows what they’re talking about/is interesting, so why don’t you follow them too.’ If you do #FF, whoever you suggest might just return the favour one day.
9. Always think of ways to build your following
Regularly tweeting will help. Getting retweets from people with lots of followers is gold.
Not all of us have time to drop everything and tweet so you can use tools, like Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule releases. If you’ve created some new content that you want to promote, you need to send more than one tweet about it or it’s likely to get missed. That’s where scheduling tools come in handy.
11. Use Twitter cards
If you’re looking to promote content from your website you can use Twitter cards to display a summary of the article and an image.
12. Use lists
As the number of people you follow grows, you’ll find it hard to monitor your timeline. Create lists to filter your timeline so you don’t miss content from those you want to follow closely. Here at Digital Davidson we tend to create lists for various categories rather than load everyone into one list. You can make these lists private should you wish.
13. Use tools
I’ve mentioned tools for scheduling releases, but there are hundreds of other tools out there which can help you manage your Twitter account. Use Tweepi to understand more about your followers and Followerwonk for in-depth analysis.
Hopefully you’ll have found some useful insight here to help you get started. I was shooting from the hip when I pulled this list together (he said casually) so I’m sure there will be things I’ve missed. Please feel free to join the debate by adding your tips, tools and techniques for beginners in the space below.
Many thanks to barloventomagico on Flickr for allowing us to use his photo on this post