When I mention using Twitter to many business owners I generally get the same expression. That kind of scrunched up face that says “Ewww! Not Twitter. Not me!” Many people were initially turned off from using Twitter as a means to generate business by seeing people post things that seemed totally inane during its early stages of adoption. They would post the same thing at the same time of day, such as, “Time for a glass of Chardonnay now”. I myself wondered what the benefit of this kind of posting could be, and stayed away from using Twitter even though I had opened an account.
Then later I drifted into the habit of letting my Facebook Page automatically post to Twitter. After a couple months of that, I advanced to clicking the TweetMe buttons on the articles of several blogs that I read frequently. But I never realized the true potential until about a year ago, after joining a group that regularly tweeted, re-tweeted and conversed using Twitter or one of its scheduling apps such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck, or MarketMeSuite.
Now, I have a regular group of people who I look forward to hearing from on Twitter. And I have begun reaching out to a group one of my mentors, Nick Unsworth calls a Circle of Influence: People who work with a similar clientele to my target audience and can refer them to me for the services I provide. It has taken a little effort, but I now have a decent following of almost 5000 Twitter users. Because of this following I am involved in another group that helps each other broadcast each others Blog articles for a combined reach of over 30,000 potential eyeballs. So if you are having squeamish thoughts about having to post every silly little thing you do on Twitter, get over it! Just Get Started and set up a new account or utilize your existing account now. You’ll be thankful for taking that step at some point, even if you don’t appreciate Twitter right now.
Books have been written about Twitter, but this is the down and dirty version to get you on the road to Twitter Fame. Here are some basic guidelines for setting up your Twitter account and making your efforts count.
Establish your Twitter Handle and Account
Your user name is limited to 15 characters. Use them wisely. Go to http://twitter.com and set up your account. Keep in mind that people are more likely to follow a person than a brand. So consider having a Spokesperson for your company that uses their name on Twitter.
Fill Out Your Entire Bio with as Much Detail as Possible
Make it friendly and inviting, not salesy. Add details that show you are a real person not a bot. Make it fun. Mention a hobby or two. Talk about your children and your pets if that is important to you. You have a limit of 160 characters in your bio. Again, use them wisely. Make sure you upload a picture that is consistent with your other social media profiles.
List your Twitter Account on Twellow Directory
Twellow can help others find you when you are listed in your specific areas of interest and tweeting www.twellow.com
Search for People in your Target Demographic
Twitter search is an invaluable tool that you can use to sort through the hundreds of thousands of tweets posted each minute. You can find tweets that are specific to your niche. You can find people who are having issues that you can solve. You can find groups of people who will be interested in your tweets (if, of course, your tweets are interesting).
Follow Those Who Tweet Regularly
When you are first following people look at their most recent tweets and notice if they have a proportionate number of Followers to Following in the beginning. Don’t follow those who almost never tweet, or those who have 3 followers and are following 1,003. It’s also advisable to avoid profiles which do not have a photo uploaded.
Keep Your Ratio of Followers to Following at or Below 9:10
Or 1800 followers for every 2000 followed. You can not break past the 2000 mark of following if you have less than 1800 people you are followed by, so unfollow those that are not in your target audience if necessary to get over this threshold.
Follow the Lists of Other People Whose Tweets You Value
You can click on a user, and then click to view their lists. If you see a list that might contain people you would like to be in touch with, click on the list and view the tweets of those in it. You can then click on the individual users and see if their tweeting style and bio mesh with the kind of target person you are looking for. If you choose people who are followed by at least a few hundred people, and also follow most of those back, it is likely that they will want to also follow you. There are auto-follow programs like Social Oomph, and people whose ratio of followers to following is close could be using this kind of software. It’s an easy way to be more likely to have people follow you in the beginning. You can try this software out yourself for a trial month, and then there is a small monthly fee after that. It will make it easier to be sure you are following those who are listening to your tweets. You can always unfollow those who are bots or spammers.
Organize Your Followers into Lists for Easy Viewing
If you are following people from a group or organization, set up a list and add each of them into the list when you first follow them. This will help you remember why you followed them in the first place. It will also allow you to view all of the latest tweets from any group of people in one click.
Tweet Something Regularly
Even if you only tweet a link to your Facebook page links, make sure your audience knows you are still around. You can also set up your Facebook Page postings to automatically be sent to Twitter. Another easy way to keep your Twitter stream active, is to read the Tweets of others in your field and Re-Tweet (abbreviated RT) those to your audience. In the beginning it can be a simple way to send good information to your audience and make friends with other Twitter users.
Ask a Question
One way to engage people in any form of social media is to ask them their opinion. Everyone loves to tell you what is on their mind.
Create Saved Searches to Find Topics You are Interested In
You can search by a topic, keyword, or product name.
Create or Follow Hashtags (#)
These are useful, especially for regular events or meetings. You can also save hashtag searches, to continue monitoring a certain subject easily.
Regularly Check and Respond to Your @Mentions
@Mentions are from people who are responding to you or mentioning you in a tweet. It’s considered polite to answer them in some fashion. Even a short “Thank You for the Mention” is fine in the beginning. Or you can start a conversation with this person.
Check your RTs/Retweets and Thank those who Retweet You
Just a common courtesy in the Twitterverse. People like to be acknowledged. Another good way to increase your followers.
Thank Those Who Recommend You on Follow Friday #FF
Every Friday people use the Hastags #FF or #FollowFriday to recommend friends or associates they think tweet useful information. This is one way to grow your following. It is also a way to be relatively certain that you are not following a bot.
Don’t Use an Automatic Direct Message
Especially one that is promotional in nature. It will be considered Spammy.
Open Your Tweets to a Wider Audience
If you use the @symbol with a user name, it will only appear in your feed and theirs. To open it to a wider audience place a dot (.) before the @ sign. This will allow all your followers to view the message.
Participate in #TweetChats
Here is a link to a Google Docs Spreadsheet which lists some of the many hundreds of Tweetchats that take place daily. Peruse the list to see if there is anything that spikes your interest. http://bit.ly/ueSGQy. Once you know the #hashtag, you can search for specific Twitter Chats on TweetChat.com. This is the easiest way to be able to follow the discussions, in my experience.
I’ll expand on the Scheduling apps in my next post. If you are wondering about Hootsuite, MarketMeSuite, or TweetDeck check for my next article.
What other Twitter tips do you consider essential for the new user? Truthfully, I can think of several others right now, but I didn’t want this to take too much time to read. I’m sure there will be some Twitter Experts reading this and I welcome your comments below.
Update Jan 3, 2012
Thought I’d add in this link to a Mashable article that lists the essential Twitter dictionary for anyone unfamiliar with the lingo and acronyms.
Essential Twitter Dictionary