Your a twitter newbie, you’ve heard about it so you have decided to do the twitter thing and find out what its all about. Here is my version of the twitter newbie startup guide in 14 parts to help you take the first steps, understand what its all about and get the ball rolling.
1) Get a Twitter account
Getting an account is simple. Visit www.twitter.com and click the green “Get Started- Join!” button.
On the next page you will be asked for “Full Name” and “User Name”. The difference between them is this. Full Name is the name of the owner of the account, your real name in other words, and user name is the name by which the account will be recognised, so it may also be your real name, your company name, an available name close to the one you want or your super secret superhero identity.
There are a few steps to import contacts and also a suggested user list (SUL) you can skip these steps by looking at the bottom centre of the page and clicking the “skip this step” link.
2) Edit your Twitter profile
Once you finish the steps above its time to look at your profile. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this can be filled with funny or irrelevant information. Far from it in fact!
The Location and Biographies are really important when other people come to search for you as it is this information they will be looking at and which will put you in the results so if your looking for people in your area or with similar interests or skills then make sure location and your biography are accurate and include the words that best describe you.
3) Twitter Profile Photo
Add a photo please. not of some new transformer or logo you like. Make it a photo of you, and preferably one that doesn’t look like you have just been arrested. The only time you may not use your own face is when you are using the account to represent a brand or company, but even then, the more personal you can make it the better. Remember its social media for a reason.
5) Using a Twitter desktop application
Personally I use Tweetdeck to interact with Twitter and my network, it serves all my current needs and has a diverse range of options and functions that can be employed to ensure you get the most out of your information stream. For more information on Tweetdeck have a read over my introduction to tweetdeck.
6) Getting started on Twitter – Searching, finding, networking.
Getting started on Twitter is simple but it can take a little while to learn all the tricks and the significance of different functions. Using Tweetdeck does make this easier due to the interface but that’s not all that you need to know about Twitter itself.
The value of twitter is in the followers and people you follow. Period. For a more detailed brakdown on whay I would advise in getting the most out of twitter have a read at this post about your twitter follower count and the real value of people on twitter.
7) Advertise your Twitter presence
Dont hide the fact you are on twitter. Most mediums in social media, such as FaceBook, Linkedin and a range of others, will support inclusion of twitter to varying degrees, some will simply link to your twitter homepage, others will allow you to add a feed of your latest tweets to your page.
Make sure you have an appropriate way of informing visitors to your website or blog that your also using twitter by adding in a button, link or even a post about it. Dont make people work hard to find you!
8) Using 3rd apps for Twitter
There are hundreds of twitter applications that you can use to enhance, grow and develop your twitter profile and quite simply it will take time to understand what they all mean and do and how much benefit they will bring to the table.
To get you started I have listed some essential sites that use the Twitter service that should be looked at straight away:
After you look at these, there seems to be about 1 billion other tools and apps you can look a selection of which are available on this post about Twitter tools and APIs
9) Twitter Search with Google
Finding people you consider high quality is the most important factor on twitter and will benefit you either personally or in business if you spend the time to source them and build a bridge to make stable and established connections with them. If you use Google and are comfortable with it there is a way of effectively searching using the Google search to find interesting twitter users.
10) Get mobile with Twitter
Have you an iphone? Twitter is perfect for using in conjunction with your iphone and only recently TweetDeck released an excellent tweetdeck iphone application, which is completely free, to install on your iphone. It syncs with your tweetdeck on your computer once you install it via the iTunes shop and works fantastically well, bar a few bugs at this tage, but I cant do without it.
11) Get Tweeting!
After all this its time to get tweeting. The frequency of your tweets is important in the inital stages and the amount of tweets you have. No one will be interested in following or getting to know you if you tweet once a month or have a big fat ZERO amount of tweets in your profile.
Stuck for what to say? Yes it can be difficult to get started but no one will judge you on what or how you tweet. Depending on your profile and aims you should focus in on issues relating to you, your business, or which you find important and interesting. This means others will also be able to find you and decide from there if you will be an asset to them, ensuring a nice positive level of growth in your network as you actively search for others and they search for you.
Sometimes its best not to try and start a conversation but instead to join in on one. Use the “@username” to directly contact someone and give your views or feedback when a subject is of interest to you.
12) ReTweets, Hashtags and Short URLS
There are three important points to note about using Twitter.
Where someone writes something interesting or links to information you believe is valuable you can perform a ReTweet or RT. This is the most valuable action you can perform on twitter for others and for your network. Dont be tempted to send the information on as it you are the source, that grows no value with the person you are ReTweeting, instead, offer transparency and let them know you find the information valuable to yourself and believe it is of value to your network.
What goes around comes around on Twitter, after all it is a social network, and that person will retrun the favour for you someday.
Also, dont ask for RTs in your tweets, unless you specifically need it. There are few things more annoying that constantly seeing people saying “please RT, thanks” on every piece of information the write, it dilutes the value and really, its up to your network to decide the value of the information and ReTweet it if they think it is worthwhile.
To see the value of Retweeting you an read this post showing what happens and the return you can get when a tweet goes viral.
You may notice various words with a hashtag (#) infront of them. Hashtags are used aginst words to denote a particular subject or conversation. For example if I where to tweet “I live in #marbella” it links directly to the term Marbella and includes all conversations that include the same hashtag. This allows you to centralise a subject matter or specific term and develop a conversation around it.
Twitter Short URLS
Because of twitters 140 character limit its wise to use a URL (web page address) shorten’er. Most web address are quite long and this leaves very little room to actually write something about the information you are sending on so making the URL short means it still works but is condensed into a much smaller more manageble link. In tweetdeck this is included below the tweet writing panel and all you do is paste the URL and click “shorten” to add it to your tweet. Simple.
13) Some Twitter advice
Twitter takes time. Do not expect it to work overnight. If you invest in it, wou will be paidback but the investment is all about you, who you are and what you do. Give to others, share with friends and the kudos you create will help you progress. Just be yourself, be relevant and be helpful is the best advice I can give.
14) Further Twitter Reading and the definitive twitter guide
On my site I have a range of articles all about different things to do with twitter, if your interested in staying up to date with the latest information then feel free to subscribe by email or RSS or you can browse through my twitter posts.
If you want a more comprehensive guide to Twitter there’s no better place to go than Mashable. A site totally dedicated to social media and over flowing with information about social media in general, in particular it has just released this Twitter Guide Book. Enjoy!