Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting Started With Twitter

I'm the kind of guy that tries EVERYTHING out for about 5 minutes.  If I don't buy into it immediately, then I let it sit for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years.  This was the case with twitter.  I actually signed up for a twitter account in 2009, but found it to be filled with annoying, self-serving people.  It was only recently that I discovered value in twitter when doing research for my wife's blog Fab Housewife.  According to Hubspot, a website gets 113% more inbound links when it's tweeted through a twitter account, and websites with 1,000 followers get 6 times more traffic.  That was enough reason for me to get involved, so I decided to make a goal to get 1,000 followers as quickly as possible.  I immediately created a twitter account, and waited for the followers to flood in (imagine the sound of crickets here). Okay, so this leads me to my next point, once I have a twitter account, then what do I do with it?

Start Tweeting

No one wants to follow a dead twitter account.  If people see that an account never tweets, then why would they follow it?  Start with a "Hello World" tweet, introduce yourself, say something funny.  At this point, you just need to get some content out there.

Fill Out Your Profile

Just like having no tweets, people are turned off by twitter accounts with a blank profile.  Fill yours out immediately.  Give a quick background in the bio to build credibility.  This is a simple task that makes a huge difference.  If you or your company has done anything noteworthy, mention it here.    

Start Following People

Twitter is all about interactions.  Unless you are Brad Pitt or Bill Gates, you can't expect everyone in the world to want to follow you.  You have to introduce yourself in a lot of ways.  Start by finding your friends on twitter.  You can connect accounts like Gmail, and the application will search for matches from your contact list.  When you find your friends, search their followers for people in common, follow them.  Then, find your top 3 competitors, look for their followers and follow them.  Finally, you can Google for lists of people with large followings, that tend to follow back, this is a great example.  Be selective with these, but go ahead and start following.  You'll need to space these out as this process can be tedious.  Plus, twitter will monitor accounts that follow too many handles in too short of a time period.  In short, don't be timid about following people on twitter.  Twitter is like having a free email address with data behind it.  Twitter gives you reach, so take advantage and follow away.

Interact with Your Followers

This is a must.  You have to keep tweeting.  Plan to tweet every few hours.  Important time periods are between 9am and 6pm, with a peak around 3pm.  Use the "at" symbol to mention people you want to interact with.  You can also use a "#topic" to highlight a trending topic.  Re-tweeting great tweets is also a good idea.  If you give a little, your followers will be more likely to give back and re-tweet your posts.

Don't Be Spammy

No one wants to be around self-serving people.  So don't be that person who only posts sales of your products.  Most importantly NEVER send a post asking people to follow you.  Seriously, I see it a lot, and unfollow anyone who does it.  Twitter is the new telemarketing medium and people are getting paid to round up followers.  You don't want to be labeled as one of those guys.  Just be yourself, and genuinely interact with people.  If you want to shout out a new promotion every now and then, go ahead.  Just make sure you are continually building goodwill.

Automate Your Account

I will be going into more detail about this topic later, but there are tools out there that will help you automate your twitter account.  Once you get going with the previous steps, we can talk about that part.

Have Fun

Eventually, Twitter will become fun.  I have actually enjoyed the process, despite my initial hesitation.  It's a powerful tool that is mandatory in today's social media driven world.  Make a game or competition out of it. Set goals for yourself.  These will make it more fun, and make it more gratifying when you accomplish your goals.  Good luck!