Basically, it really helps you to get to know people, by having brief conversations with them, and its a great way to build up a network of new contacts locally. I’m always meeting new people in real life that seem familiar, and its usually because I have already ‘met’ them on Twitter.
I find Twitter very useful for sharing information (both banal and useful) with others. It’s a great way of communicating with like-minded people and I like its immediacy, e.g. if I’m reading an article that I think some of my followers would be interested in, I can post it straight away.
A lot of people use it when they are at conferences, to tell others what is going on, and you can get a sense of the buzz around certain conferences and topics from it. If you follow the conference hashtag* you could also identify people from their tweets that you might be interested in talking to, and set up a meeting there and then.
*What is a hashtag? It’s this symbol #, used immediately in front of a word or abbreviation. e.g. #SIEsummit was used for the recent SIE Student Enterprise Summit. You can follow hashtags by using the search box in Twitter. Hashtags are also often used to keep track of different networking groups, such as #SWIB (Scottish Women in Business) or to promote events such as #themeet140, a regular tweetup that takes place in several UK cities. (A tweetup is a face-to-face meeting of tweeters).
In my opinion, the “banal” chat that people who are unconvinced by Twitter complain about is still worthwhile, as it helps you to build up a more personal picture of people and to get to know them better. After all, we usually prefer to do business with people we like! And if you ever feel like finding a drinking companion, check out #yeoldetwitterpub !
It’s hard to explain how to use Twitter, the best advice I can give you is just try it (which is the best way to understand Twitter anyway). Once you have set up your profile**, start following a few people that you know, and see what they are talking about. You will soon find that you will want to join in the conversation. Just click on ‘reply’ and start typing.
**make sure you fill in a few details, so that people know who you are. A link to your web site or LinkedIn profile can be useful. And do upload a profile picture so people know you are a real person.
In order to make any sense of what people are talking about, however, and to keep track of groups of friends, its much better to use a third party application to access Twitter, instead of using the http://www.twitter.com web site. These applications are free to download and use and can be used on your computer, and also on mobile phones and iPads.
I usually use Tweetdeck, but sometimes I use Hootsuite, and Twitter also has its own apps for mobile phones. Take a look at their websites to find out more about them. The key advantage is that you can sort people into columns, so its easier to see what groups of people are saying. You can also use these apps to access multiple Twitter accounts (for example you may tweet in your own name and a company name), as well as LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also create lists directly in Twitter and then create columns in your chosen application to match these Twitter lists. Again, its much easier to do than to explain! As soon as I start following someone I add them to a twitter list, then they will appear in the tweetdeck column I have created for that list.
If you want to know more about using Twitter, and what people mean when they talk about ‘mentions’, ‘messages’, (DM’s), and ‘retweets’ (RT’s), visit Twitter basics. Though the quickest way to find out something, especially when it is about Twitter etiquette***, is probably simply to tweet your question, someone is sure to reply!
***Twitter may be a new way of communicating, but a few basic guidelines apply, if you don’t want to upset people.
Do feel free to follow me @Fiona_Go
I promise to follow you back, unless you haven’t filled in any profile details, or you describe yourself as a social media guru.
Update: I’ve just come across this helpful blog from @MrsMcDowall that explains #FF and hashtags in general; it’s worth a read.
Another update: a great blog on the importance of your twitter bio from @KtAndersonBlogs
10 thoughts on “Why tweet? (and how to get started)”
On a quick and effective (but slightly power user) note. Tweetdeck is also available as an app for smartphones. Which allows you manage multiple users seamlessly cross platforms. Might sound complex, but really its a very easy way of doing things.
Thanks! Tweetdeck is a great tool – use it all the time on my PC. I gave up on tweetdeck for iphone a while ago, as it kept crashing, must try it again. The official twitter app for iphone is good, but not as flexible as tweetdeck when you follow lots of people.
Great blog post Fiona and given that I think you and I first met via Twitter I would agree it is an extremely useful networking tool. I tend to use Twitter just for business and Facebook for social. I think I’m so used to writing in under 140 characters that my Facebook postings have also become pretty concise!
I think one of the biggest issues for me is how to get followers. I’ve managed to get over 600 in about a year which I’m pleased with but now that I’ve started writing my blog seriously, I would like to build up my Twitter followers so as to publicise my blog more effectively. So hints and tips on that would be great. Plus can anyone explain Follow Friday????
Follow Friday is when you suggest people that other people should follow – simples!
Happy to chat about how you can build up followers, but 600 is a pretty good number, as long as they are interested followers and you engage with them. Post links to your blog a few times in the 36 hours after publishing, and encourage people to comment and RT. Also, if you see people you follow ‘chatting’ to others, why not follow the people they are twittering to? You will probably have something in common with them and they may well follow you back.
I echo Morag and Susan’s suggestions and I guess what I would add is find a way to work with it that suits you. So we can all make suggestions but eventually we personalise how we use it so that it is most useful for our own needs. Along with the chat I use twitter for learning so I follow links to posts/articles etc that others in my stream are talking about and – when I think I can add value – I join in the conversations.
The number 1 way to make twitter work for you is to join in the conversation!!!!
Very helpful to a beginner and mouldy oldie like me. Thanks!
Thx for the post Fiona! I only started with Twitter recently and am still finding my way around it, and posts like this help. I can also recommend the book Twitter Power and Twitter means business for more business/marketing use… Thanks again and also for the follow!
Great post, chock full of good twitter tips Fiona.
I totally agree with you about how to get started – just follow some people and see what they’re saying – and also, as quickly as possible, set yourself up on Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or something else and use twitter that way rather than twitter.com, which I find can be very static and one-dimensional.
The hashtag device is extremely powerful and something that, for me, made twitter really make sense when I first joined – laptop on, while watching a popular tv programme, and watching a whole micro-community chatting amongst each other using a particular hashtag symbolising a popular tv programme. For new twitter users who just want to follow and view how the medium works, I often suggest setting up a search column on twitter for whatever tv programme takes their fancy while the programme is on. Try hashtags such as #bbcqt #apprentice #xfactor, for example. But be warned, this can become very addictive, you may convert to always watching tv with two screens!
Really useful blog Fiona for anyone new to Twitter. I have three twitter accounts, two are business and the third is my personal one. I find having three works best for me as the two businesses are very different from each other. One centres around jewellery & fashion and the other; tourism, walking, cycling, nature etc. Perhaps useful for people new to Twitter to know that this is possible although by no means everyones preferred method!