Twitter is a fantastic way of sharing and learning information. Whether it is celebrity gossip, or groundbreaking news, it’ll be on Twitter, which means it is the place to be- however, it can be a bit of a minefield to begin with. Whether you have already signed up for Twitter and are thinking “now what?”, or have heard everyone talking about it but don’t know where to start- this article is for you. There are still plenty of people that have never used Twitter, and even for those that have, the site still feels alien to them.
If you have already got the hang of Twitter and want something more advanced then head over to Udemy and sign up for my online course “How To Use Twitter To Build Authority In Your Market Sector”.
Before we get started, the first thing to keep in mind is that writing a good Tweet (Twitter Message) takes practise, and it is important to get it right. In 2017, Twitter increased the character for Tweets from 140 to 280 characters (including punctuation and spaces), but it is still important to use these characters wisely. Having said that, you should avoid shortening words unless truly necessary, try not to use text speak- you aren’t writing a text message, and you want to create a professional image of your brand.
So you’ve created a Twitter account, you may have even connected with some other people and are seeing their updates. If you already know some people on Twitter you may even already be having conversations, but Twitter is so much more than another form of Instant Messaging and, if used correctly, can have very positive effects on building the success of your brand.
A lot of how you use Twitter depends on why you signed up for it in the first place, and what you want to get out of it, which brings us to our first step:
1. Why Are You Here?
Before you do anything, you need know what you are looking to get out of Twitter. Did you sign up to follow celebrities, because your friends are on Twitter or maybe you thought you could use Twitter to promote your business? Any of these reasons are valid, but each of them will mean you use Twitter slightly differently once you have got the hang of it.
Having your goals in mind from the very start will help you make some choices during the further steps below. You don’t even have to use Twitter every day, in fact you never need send a message at all, if the principal reason you are using Twitter is to monitor your competition.
2. Profile Image
If you are using Twitter for business you need to ensure you have a professional looking image as your profile picture.
If your Twitter account is representing your business then your company logo would be the best to use. If you are using Twitter to represent you as a person then a professional photo of you would be preferable. There is no better feeling at a business event than people recognising you because of your Twitter profile picture, it makes networking all that much easier.
Of course, if you are using Twitter for any other reason, your profile picture is less important, but you should still aim to use an image that best represents your character. I wrote about The Best Profile Photos to Use in a previous post, which might be useful if you want to maximise the amount of people that are likely to follow you.
You will also have the option to choose a cover image, which can further convey your (or your brand’s) personality and message. While a team photo might suit a company-wide Twitter account, your brand logo is a good option for your own account.
3. Complete Your Bio
Who are you?
What do you do?
What are you interested in?
These are all questions you should answer in your bio. Once again, Twitter has imposed a character limit here, so be sure to use these 160 characters wisely. Whatever your reason for using Twitter, you will need to give people a reason to follow you. This means that, even if you are using Twitter for business, you should be fun as well as factual to help you stand out from the crowd.
4. You Are What You Tweet
Now you’re ready to start Tweeting. But what are you going to say? Remember that (unless you have set your Twitter to private), anyone can see your Tweets, so it’s important that you really think about what content you are sharing with your followers (and potential followers).
What you Tweet will largely be depend on the “Goals” you have decided on in step 1. If you’re using Twitter for fun and communicating with friends then it is perfectly acceptable to just chat as normal. However, if you want to start engaging with others you don’t know, then you have to talk about things that may be of interest to them. And if you’re not a celebrity this will mean avoiding talking about yourself too much!
While the 280 character limit might restrict what you Tweet, you can add images, videos and external links to expand on what you want to say – whatever the aim of your Twitter account.
If you’re into jogging or running, for example, sharing your times and distances on Twitter can be a fun way to keep track of your training. Mixing this with links to interesting articles you read on the web about running will firmly position you as a keen runner, meaning you’re likely to get other runners to follow and converse with you. Hashtags are another fantastic way of situating your brand within a particular industry or subject area, and can help people discover your account!
You can apply this methodology to any interest or business sector. If you’re using Twitter for business, it’s even more important not to talk about yourself too much. Twitter accounts full of self-promotional Tweets are not that interesting to anyone, although there are always exceptions – see Dell Outlet UK.
5. How Often To Tweet
This will vary a lot dependant on what you are looking to achieve. Even with a casual account based around your own interests you want to be sending out Tweets regularly, 3 or 4 times a day perhaps. If you’re in business and looking to use Twitter commercially you are going to need to Tweet a lot more. If people get used to you being there and you Tweet interesting stuff regularly they are more likely to keep following you, engage with your Tweets, and share your content with their own followers- which will, of course, have a positive impact on awareness of your brand.
Of course this can be time consuming, so you need to make a schedule for using Twitter just like you would for checking your email. You definitely want to avoid getting sucked into checking your Twitter account throughout the day. In this respect Twitter can be more distracting than your inbox, so set a schedule and stick to it!
It is also important that you consider when you are sending out your Tweets- after all, you want people to see them! Consider when your target audience is most likely to be browsing Twitter when you are scheduling your content.
6. Follow To Get Followed
Over time people will follow you due to the information you Tweet, but you can be proactive about obtaining more followers. One of the best ways to get more followers, is to follow more people. In the earlier years of Twitter if you followed someone, the etiquette was to follow them back, this is how some of the early adopters of the platform gained thousands of followers.
Although not everyone still follows this etiquette, many do, and as long as you make sure your account has plenty of interesting Tweets, a good Bio with a link to your website, if you have one, and a professional profile image you will generally find that reciprocation will not be an issue.
So using our example from step 4, go to Twitter.com and type in the search field at the top of the page running. This will bring back all the recent Tweets that mention the word “running”. While the results themselves may not be of much use, what is of more interest is the ‘People’ tab. This will list all the accounts that demonstrate relevance to or interest in running.
Follow me and I will follow you back!
Of course, you needn’t base all of your follows on specific searches. You may also simply want to follow certain brands and celebrities just out of an interest to read their content.
Advanced Tip: If you click on a Twitter account’s name you will see how many followers they have. If you click on this link it will list those followers, and if that Twitter account talks about running, using our example, then its followers are likely to be interested in running! Start following these accounts and there’s a chance they will follow you back also.
7. Share Generously
One of the reasons Twitter is so popular is that it is really easy to share information, not just your own information, but other’s too. This information can go viral, if it is interesting enough. This very ability to spread messages widely with relatively little effort is one of the main reasons Twitter is so useful for businesses.
The trick to getting your content shared is to write or produce interesting and useful stuff, whether it be a quirky photo, short video, a “how to” article or just an interesting comment. You also need to be open to sharing other’s content too. Very much like getting followed, if you help others spread their content they are more likely to reciprocate.
This is where the Retweet comes in. The Retweet link below a message allows you to send someone else’s message on easily to your followers. If there’s enough space in the Tweet you can add a further comment too, if you wish. Retweeting industry leaders can associate your brand with respected influencers, increasing the credibility of your brand.
Bonus Tip: Using Twitter as SMS
Twitter has been a popular tool for many in developing countries or living within oppressive regimes not only because of the ease with which you can spread a message, but also due to the low level of technology needed to use the platform. You can just as easily use Twitter on a basic Nokia phone with no smart features as you can on the latest iPhone or a PC.
Going mobile with Twitter can add another dimension to your Tweets, making them more real and instant. You don’t need a WiFi connection or data plan either, you can Tweet just using SMS.
You can even send picture messages too!
Note: Any Tweets you send via your mobile using this method will be charged against your text message allowance dependant on your mobile contract.
Hopefully this will get you off to a good start, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or leave them in the comments below.
When you’re ready to move to the next level then please try my online course: “How To Use Twitter To Build Authority In Your Market Sector”.
If you have any questions just send me a Tweet.