I will try to simplify and explain the phenomenon of “Twitter” to those who have no clue, and to those who want to get better at it.
1. Requires Research:
What I mean by this is: Why are you joining Twitter? For what purpose? What do you hope to achieve? Do you want the masses, niche following, or a smaller cult following, etc.? What I did was took out a piece of paper and tried to answer these questions one by one before I even signed up for Twitter. If you know what you want, your Twittering will be just that much more focussed and organized than the next person. For example, I’m writing for a Celeb twitter blog, so it’s my job to follow as many Celebs as possible (Don’t worry I have my tricks to find the real ones from the fakes!). So, Celebs are my primary focus when I search for friends.
2. Once on Twitter do nothing but read other tweets for awhile:
Very important! Think of it like a job interview, meaning the first impression you give is important! So listen to tweets, and read the links referring to twitter applications because this is a great way to increase your Twitter knowledge base. Keep your eyes looking for the tweeting lingo that good tweeters use. It’s a form of shorthand that gets them to use less characters (helpful when you only have 140). As well, these applications can be used as aids to get you more followers (more followers = bigger audience). There are no real short cuts here. It took me 2 days of just reading article, tweet, article, tweet, all the while raising my Twitter IQ in the process! I must add it is a huge jump in complexity from Facebook and Myspace to come to Twitter, and be “effective” at tweeting and gaining a following, it’s like an art and science.
3. Try a Twitter app or two, or three…
There are so many twitter applications that allow you to add users faster, or users that are rated highly, etc. I suggest you check some of them out. Some Twitter apps find you the people with the largest following, and others show statistics of Twitter users. It really is very addicting! I personally only used 2 applications, and was happy enough with the results to continue my search for friends. I wouldn’t suggest going Twitter app crazy, some people use tons, and I don’t think they even really know who they’re following. Be a little more intentional in your choices.
4. Once you start Twittering watch your content/quantity
There is nothing more annoying than see people put up tweets that have no point/needless comment. For example, lots of people like to say, “I’m hungry so I’m gonna go to the fridge…”. Wow, i needed to know that. On the other hand, people who put up links to current events, pictures/videos, or other web articles, and say witty and smart things that you can learn from, these are people you want to add!
As well, one of my biggest pet peeves of some tweeters is that they tweet like the world is going to end tomorrow. If I’m already following 500 people, and Joe Smith over here tweets like hundreds of times a day. That’s annoying! I want to read about the other 499 people too, but he kinda hogs my twitter board by posting so much. So as a tip, when adding a person, check how many “updates” they’ve made, and see when they joined on Twitter (estimating how many tweets they make per day).
5. Tweet to other people in your list of followers
I’m pretty sure twitter just changed the policy that if you direct message someone, they will only get it, if they are following you. That’s a real roadblock there, but the Twitter police does what it does. Conversations are best with the people already paying attention to you. Reward that, and RT = retweet the people you think did a good job tweeting that day (giving them props!)
6. Find followers who have the same interests as you
Your profile information is one of the most important ways people find you. Do not write a character blurb about yourself, remember this is about short sound bites of information. Therefore, if you look at my twitter account: @Chodidees you will notice that I just state things one after the other (writer, poet, videographer, environmentalist..). I can tell you it works because a lot of people who have started to follow me, actually have the similar interests/causes that I appreciate (ie. humanitarian, environmental, arts, etc.). It will be more fun to ask questions to people who have similar interests because they might be able to help you in those areas.
7. Things to avoid
I am not a fan of block following, or using apps to follow as many people as you can. Yes you do probably get thousands of followers, and that’s well and good, however, are these followers loyal, or are they gonna split on you in a few days (it happens). Block booking is great if you want to have a large following.
I much rather prefer the slow build, and let my reach grow in a controlled and sustained manner. Also, by keeping low key, I think you have a bit of cache or buzz.As well, I personally check every person who signs up to follow me, I read their bios, check their tweets, read over their websites, and I bet you wonder why?
Well, I don’t like dropping followers, but I do like to make sure of who I want following me. It’s like a team mentality, I want to know that if I follow them, they will stick with me. I want to make sure that I choose someone that I can rely upon for their expertise when I need it, or has common interests to me.
I’m not looking for a huge following, but just a strong core that will stick with me as I “slowly” build my followers. It takes a long time to go through all the people, but I think it is justified because I don’t want infomercials or porn fronting as people following me, and so I won’t follow them (I screen them out). I want to add “real” people with something valuable to say, and being an expert in a field is a plus! As well, I also add a lot of young people because I think they would be more interested in celebrities and musicians. Another thing that is really important to me when following someone is that they have a personal picture, full name, and hopefully both as well on their website link. Having a web link is critical to getting a lot followers because it acts like a “double check” that shows you are a “real person”, and not just a front for a web advertisement site. Basically I just want to meet and follow “People”, not companies or organizations that don’t fit my style, but if a person happens to work for a company (from his/her weblink) that is o.k. as long as his/her tweets aren’t infomercial sounding.
Another reason why I’m going with the slow build is because the web magazine I’m working for isn’t “Officially” off the ground yet, so I’m trying to keep a lower profile till we are ready, and have worked out the kinks!
I realize at this point early into my tweeting career, I have many things to learn, so I don’t need 10,000 people watching me tweet my mistakes. Hopefully I can work out my kinks, and continue slowly building from there!