So, you have a Twitter account. What now?
Depending on how you wish to use Twitter, there are many different things that you can do to improve your use of this popular social networking tool. Here are some useful tips to make the most out of Twitter.
Once you’ve signed up to Twitter, the first thing you need to do is to update your profile. At the bare minimum, you must customize your profile photo and write a short bio or description. Make sure that you don’t keep your profile photo as the default ‘Twitter egg’. If you are able to, try to provide your location (city/state/country) and share a URL to a website where people can learn more about you. Customizing your header and background images would be great too.
When it comes to social media, the old adage of "no man is an island" definitely applies. That’s why the best way to get more out of Twitter is to start following and connecting with other people. But, don’t just follow friends, family, and existing contacts. Consider expanding your network on Twitter by searching for good sources and connections.
If you see Twitter updates that include the pound or hash sign like #keyword or #KeyPhrase on Twitter, these are called hashtags. These hashtags enable Twitter users to identify certain keywords as part of a wider discussion. They are great to use for connecting with others and for following or tracking conversations and targeted topics.
Related to hashtags, TweetChats are "real time" events that are held on a regular basis across different communities on Twitter. These are held either once a month, weekly, or fortnightly. You can find different TweetChats across different subjects such as blogging (#blogchat) and social media (#socialchat).
If you’re not doing it yet, do consider using a Twitter app or client. With one, your Twitter usage can be streamlined by installing desktop or mobile clients, which enables you to follow conversations and streams easily. There are several options out there for Twitter apps or clients, including: Twitter’s native app and HootSuite, among others.
Twitter lists are great, especially for filtering your stream based on certain categories that you decide on your list. Through lists, you only need to skim your Twitter stream and if you have time to delve in to specific subjects/interests, you go in to your lists.
Nowadays, many conferences and other events now use Twitter as a way to engage with the audience. Find out what their hashtag for the event is and use it on your Tweets. This is a good way to connect with speakers and fellow participants at the event. And, it even has the added bonus of being able to share your knowledge with your network if you share some of the key learnings and interesting moments.
Some Twitter accounts are used mainly for pushing articles and resources to promote. Unless you share mostly brilliant content, this sort of accounts have a short shelf life. However, if you have an account that’s mostly conversations between you and people who are already in your network, some possible new connections may feel awkward about ‘interrupting’. Again, for some people, this may be the only way they wish to use Twitter. And, that’s okay. But, for those who wish to for a different type of approach, it is best to strive for a balanced content stream that has a good mix of links to useful resources, interesting conversations, and multimedia.
Since there’s always something new to learn and more people to interact with, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the whole thing. That’s why it is good to keep in mind what you wish to use Twitter for (be it personal, professional, a mix of both, etc).Then, once you know what you wish to get out of Twitter, you can try to devise a plan that will work for the lifestyle that you wish to lead. This system may come in the form of developing content calendars, themes, or just a schedule on when to Tweet, find ReTweets, join Tweetchats, and more.
Many Twitter users who have attended face-to-face meetings (also known as ‘Tweet-ups’) report that it’s a great way to solidify relationships with virtual contacts. There are many Tweet-ups available around the world. And, if you’re interested, you can visit MeetUp.com to join some Twitter groups who plan to meet in person.
Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Iconspedia
Shai Coggins is the Manager and Chief Digital Media Specialist at Vervely, an Australia-based agency serving local and international clients. One of the company's main clients is Microsoft. Shai has been featured in a number of media due to her online work, including being named as one of Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list (2009).