Becoming Professional: A Blog

4 Tips to Get Started on Twitter

Posted on: June 7, 2011


my twitter bio

My Twitter Bio

If you follow me on Twitter (I’m @KateDavids by the way), you know I love the thing. I’m on at least five times a day, often more, and I use numerous tools to facilitate my participation. I source news, find out about trends, and have even landed a job through the service. I share news, both industry and personal. Most importantly, I have made friends through Twitter.

But most people are still on the outside looking in. Let’s face it, Twitter is not easy to start. You begin with a blank slate. This is great- you can do whatever you want, be whoever you want. But it is also scary- you don’t know what on Earth to do.

I recently started a new Twitter feed, @Masked_Geek. I want to join the wider community of science fiction and fantasy fans. Here are the guidelines I am using to build my new account. If you follow them, you can build yours, too.

1.       No One Cares What You Had for Breakfast

egss and toast X

Original photo by Brandi Jordan on Flickr (I added the X)

There is a misconception that people on Twitter keep saying what they are eating. Yes, sometimes this happens, but for the most part people are sharing articles, networking, and discussing topics from politics to the latest sports match. They are generally not discussing the finer points of eggs and toast.

So Tweet about the things you enjoy. With the @Masked_Geek account, I share links to cool things that my target audience would like. I talk about events I go to, or other relevant topics.

2.       Everyone Starts Off Talking to Themselves

man alone

by JB London on Flickr

When you start on Twitter your follower count is a big fat zero. If you do have a few followers, I’m willing to bet they are spammers hoping that you will follow them back so they can inundate you with useless promotions (#Adidas for #Cheap! Only $4.99! bit.ly/Sucker).

This is normal. Don’t be worried. And don’t feel weird. The only way to get real followers is to have an active feed. If you are following 400 people and have a grand total of 4 Tweets, no one will follow you. With only 4 Tweets, they don’t know you are worth following. The only way to show that is to talk to yourself.

So, even though no one was listening to me, I shared my links. I may have been talking to the air at first, but now I have 42 people listening to what I am saying. And you know what? That count is growing each time I look at it.

3.       Find Cool People by Listening to Cool People

a group of school kids, take a picture at the camera

by jurvetson on Flickr

Another of the big problems people have with Twitter is finding who to follow. Yes, you can use Twitter search, but often enough this will get you celebrities and not normal people you can actually talk to.

With @Masked_Geek, I am interested in following other sci-fi and fantasy fans and engaging in that online community, but “geek” refers to many things, like tech “geek” or science “geek.” Finding the specific kind of “geek” I’m looking for is difficult. People don’t just announce, “I love sci-fi and fantasy” in their bios. The type of person I’m interested in is more likely to say “I love butterflies that dance with death rays.” Not very searchable.

To get myself started, I followed science fiction and fantasy bloggers on Twitter. Once I was following them, I was able to see who they interacted with and to start following those new people. If I could find one person who engages in sci-fi and fantasy banter, chances are, he was already talking to other fantasy geeks. You may have to go to a person’s Twitter profile page to get a clear look at who they engage with, but it is worth it. Keep an eye out on Fridays for #FF or #FavoriteFollow. This hashtag is how people share with their Followers (which would be you) whom they enjoy following. Follow these new accounts to increase your network even more.

4.       They Tweet, Not Bite

vampire duckie

by ToobyDoo on Flickr

Finally, once you’ve got a bunch of people to follow, talk to them. Many people won’t follow you just because you are following them. This is a good thing. Following everyone who follows you will clutter your News Feed with irrelevant updates.

In order to get people to follow me, I talk to them. This lets them know I exist and am not a weird stalker. I once heard Twitter compared to a cocktail party, and just like at a cocktail party, you can walk up and chat with people you do not know. It’s okay. It’s allowed. This is how you make friends.

This List Is For Individuals

These tips are for individuals, not businesses. If you are a business, you have a whole other list of tips to get started. For example, unlike an individual, you’ll probably want to follow back everyone who follows you. But, if you are an individual, then this is the place to start. Follow these simple rules, and you’ll learn how to use Twitter by using it. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. But at least you’ll be able to say that you understand the tool.

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4 Responses to "4 Tips to Get Started on Twitter"

Thanks for the great article and so true! Some of the posts on Twitter just make me shake my head and ask the age-old question “What were they thinking?!!!”. Especially in today’s world… thinking about the Dem Congressmen who just ruined his career because he had to show himself off. GROSS! I Twitter for both personal and business so I know exactly what you are saying. Thanks.

Yes, these tools are so easy to use, sometimes people forget that they are not necessarily easy to use in the right way. Pressing that send button is just too easy sometimes! Maybe Twitter needs a “Did you really mean to press that button?” notice. Not every time, but sometimes. It would certainly help some people!

Kate –

I really found your post helpful. I am so Twitter confused though and have two questions for you. #1 How do you know if someone responded to your Tweet? #2 Can you respond to a Tweet from a follower? I just feel like I am tweeting into the air at times and want to become more interactive with this application for myself and for my blog. I would appreciate any assistance. Thanks.

Maybe I should see if they have a Twitter for Dummies at the Library!

Hi Renee, here are your answers:
1) You can tell if someone has responded to your tweet by logging in to Twitter and clicking on the @Mentions hyperlink/tab right next to the Timeline tab, and right under the blank box asking you to say “What’s happening”
2) Not only can you respond to your followers’ Tweets, or the Tweets of those you follow, please do! You just need to locate a Tweet you want to respond to in your timeline. Scroll your mouse over it and you’ll see the options to “Favorite” “Retweet” and “Reply.” If you click “Reply,” then you will be sending what is called an @Reply. Basically, you’ll send a public message that the receiver will be notified that you sent, just like when you see a mention as described in your first answer. You can also click “Retweet.” This just forwards this Tweet that you like on to your followers. It’s the Twitter version of a Like on Facebook. There are more options available if you are using a 3rd party Twitter application like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, but these two are the basic ways to respond to Tweets.
Good luck and let me know how your Tweeting goes!

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog (maskedgeek.wordpress.com) and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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