5 Top Twitter Tips for Newcomers

If you have any kind of project that's going to go public, then you should be on Twitter. If you aren't, then why not? It's easy to use, popular, and a great way of interacting with people. Your audience or customers are likely to be on Twitter, so why aren't you? Like any other tool though it's good at its intended purpose and mediocre when pushed beyond that.

So what's Twitter good for?

  • Providing quick updates on what you're doing
  • Increasing visitors to your website
  • Sharing information

What's Twitter not good for?

  • Lengthy or detailed discussions: each Twitter post is limited to 140 characters
  • Arguments: keep these off social media in general

With that in mind, it's time to share 5 top Twitter tips for newcomers.


Ats and Hash

No, not the stuff for stoners, I'm talking about @ and #. If you look at Twitter, you'll see a lot of these symbols. Everyone with a Twitter account has a username that starts with @. For example, mine is @RocketPolishUK. If you were to put my username in a Twitter post (known as a 'tweet'), then that would 'address' everything else you write in that tweet to me. I would then be alerted that you'd tweeted to me. The # is used to create a tag. So if you put #socialmedia in a tweet, then everyone who searches for #socialmedia tagged tweets could see your tweet. Bear in mind though that while it's possible to communicate with anyone on Twitter via the @ it's not courteous to use it a lot with strangers. How would you like to get lots of messages from someone you don't know?

You can create your own #s to use in your tweets to tie them to a specific project. I use #RPmuses for every tweet that's part of my Dance with a Muse project to surround myself and others with motivational or positive thoughts. Susan Boyle's social media people created their own # for a party for listening to her then latest album. Somehow they made the mistake of not reading it properly, so #susanalbumparty was born. I'm sure you can spot what Susan Boyle's team missed!



Be human:

  • Don't just advertise your work, it bores people
  • Share knowledge or information, it's inspiring and draws positive attention
  • Talk like a human, people respond to juicy language, not buzzwords
Avoid spewing buzzwords

Avoid spewing buzzwords

Be classy:

  • Don't start fights and don't participate in them, it's a one-way road to the gutter
  • Think about whether what you're about to say is appropriate
  • Don't promote on the back of tragedies, it'll kill your reputation
Don't use tragedies to market yourself (image courtesy of  Mashable )

Don't use tragedies to market yourself (image courtesy of Mashable)

Sometimes the best thing you can do is put your phone back in your pocket, the tablet back in your bag, or switch your computer off. Better to have people think you're an idiot, than tweet and remove all doubt!


Treasure Hunter

As I mentioned above, people respond well to the sharing of information and knowledge. We live in an era of information overload, so hunting for the treasures of information is vital. Some people don't want to do this themselves, or feel that they don't know where to start, so why not take this on? This isn't a challenge or problem for you, it's an opportunity. People are looking for treasure, so if you can give them what they want, you'll capture their attention. Whatever your topic or area of interest there are all kinds of websites or blogs out there providing information. Don't think of the internet as being like a gigantic landfill with occasional gems dotted throughout it. Think of it as being like a massive web of hobbyists. Whatever your interest, whatever your topic, whatever your profession, there are websites, blogs, and forums out there dedicated to it. Let's test that with interests I know nothing about. Let's say you're a florist. Go to your favourite search engine and type 'florist blog' into the search area. I just tried that and found sites from the UK (as you'd expect given I live in Soho, London) but also some from Australia and California. What if you're in a farming community? Have you tried entering 'farming news' into a search engine? You could always add your country after that eg 'farming news england'.

Finding information isn't the challenge, it's overcoming the mental hurdle to believe that you can find it.


Searching for treasure on social media

Searching for treasure on social media

X Marks the Spot

If you know of good places to gain knowledge, then share them with people. If you already have knowledge, share it. People really appreciate the sharing of knowledge in social media. This isn't the place for the old zero sum game of the workplace where knowledge is hoarded. In social media terms, connections are built through sharing. If people like it, maybe they'll favourite or retweet it, passing it on, with all the links drawing back to you, making you and your website easier to find.

Remember though that negativity is the old media's game. In their space, bad news sells, and maybe sees their audience turning to them for answers, increasing their sales or advertising revenue. The online world responds well to positivity though, especially in social media. If you're sharing news and information try to keep it upbeat. Here are a couple of sample tweets. Which would you most want to read?:

OMG bad news #socialmedia is terrible! :linkwithproof
I love this story about turning #socialmedia problems into new opportunities! :linkwithproof

You might think that these tweets are gross exaggerations, but I'd write the second one in  heartbeat. It's positive because it begins 'I love' and because it seeks to transform something bad into something good. Bad news exists and always will, but that's not the point. I've just found some uncomfortable social media news, which I'll be tweeting this afternoon at 3:15 pm GMT. Instead of seeing it as a problem, I see it as an opportunity to learn, to share, and maybe to get ahead of people who don't want to face up to it.


Hoot it Up

You might have noticed that I just said I'd be tweeting at 3:15 pm GMT this afternoon. If you're wondering how, then take a look at Hootsuite. I love to use it because it enables me to write tweets and schedule them to go out at specific times, or whatever time Hootsuite thinks best in order to gain the most views. This is a great way of ensuring that you can continue to tweet even if you have to go away. The tweets you schedule for that period probably shouldn't be based on current affairs as the situation could change making your scheduled tweet look out-of-date when it goes out, but you can continue to send out tweets containing the valuable information you've found. You could also use it to tweet at specific times to match announcements, so if your business is launching a new product and you've already created a hashtag, you can schedule the tweet to go out synchronised with the launch. Just make sure you've got someone to double-check that hashtag! There are alternatives to Hootsuite of course, such as Tweetdeck.


That's a Wrap

Yep, that's a wrap, until the inevitable sequel! This is just the surface of using Twitter of course, but that's all it was meant to be. It gives you a simple taste of how you can best use Twitter, how you should avoid using it, and a helpful tool to use.