Twitter Tips for Beginners #2

29 01 2009

With the use of twitter currently soaring there are many new users who sign up and then wonder just what to do next.  This is the second in a short series of blogs offering  a selection of  hints, tips and bits of advice for those wondering what to do with twitter …and how to do it.  

Getting followed

It feels odd typing out your 140 characters when you know there is no-one following you so here are a few suggestions for attracting your first followers;

  • Follow people.  Even if you are new at least one in four of the people you follow should follow you back.
  • Load a picture (or an avatar in social media-speak).  Don’t ponder too much just get something up there. You can change it any time but don’t delay many people won’t follow you until you’ve got an image.  Use the settings menu, top right.
  • Fill in a profile. Say as much as you can in the space allowed.  People may choose to follow you because of who you are or what you do.
  • Add a website to your profile.  It could be your own blog, your company website or perhaps your LinkedIn page but ideally it should prove information about you.
  • Oh….and follow more people.  

Say something

In Twitter Tips for Beginners #1 I suggested that you don’t worry too much about this at first but you should start soon.

  • Avoid platitudes and the mundane it will turn people off and they will stop following.
  • Post links to new sites and things that you have spotted on the web that will be of interest.
  • Ask questions….you’ll start getting replies. You can use twitter as a living, breathing search tool.
  • Reply to people.  Hover over their tweet and an arrow will appear at the right side (your right). Click it and you’ve started an @post. This is a tweet directed at one person but which everyone can see.  If your are the person receiving them they will go into your @Replies box so you shouldn’t miss them.

Stick with it and before you know it you will be twittering just like Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry.

What’s Twitter For?

15 01 2009

Andy Murray, Stephen Fry, Britney, Jonathan Ross and this week Phillip Schofield have all joined Twitter helping launch the latest ‘next big thing’ onto TV screens and the pages of the national press. 

This combined with a general surge in interest in social networks has led to a flood of Twitter newbies and Twitter wannabes asking just what Twitter is for.  Like much that’s new it can be used for a lot of things and we are still finding out just how useful it might be but here are a few things Twitter is definitely for:


1. Your Personal News Channel

Major media organisations have Twitter streams that are often faster with news than their other channels.  Follow a selection of them and you have an instant personalised news-wire (my selection includes the BBC, The Guardian and the PR Week and the New York Times) in the last 24 hours I’ve heard first on Twitter about Steve Jobs stepping down from Apple, the Manchester United result and staff cuts at Google.   

2. Celebrity Gossip

Get the scoop straight from the horses mouth.  In case you wanted to know Stephen Fry is currently having a kip in a hotel room that has a “perfect view” of the Sydney Opera House.

3. Business Networking

Use it properly and it works – trust me.  Twitter involves conversation and conversation builds relationships.  There’s nothing new in this but Twitter opens the door to conversations with people that you might not find a other way of making contact with.

4. Social Networking

Twitter isn’t a social network in the way that Facebook is, but people do use it to stay in touch with friends and update them on what they are up to.  It can be like Facebook status …on speed.

5. Social Search

Google is the search engine of choice but what if you want a mixture of opinion as well as fact or you want to get a real human involved ask a question on Twitter?  I asked my followers what Twitter was for and got some very interesting replies  

Stubers Still figuring it out – currently 50% newsfeeds, 30% industry stuff or pushing blog, 20% mates; katehughes listening gossiping watching laughing peeking blogging reading writing linking posting in the wonder of 140 characters!;  xxnapoleonsolo What are any of us for?; alisongow @robbrown For me – conversation, exchanging news/information, finding interesting people, being part of a community; alfox @robbrown Twitter – it’s good for stalking. It’s an information exchange? It’s eavesdropping; Ear_I_Am @robbrown Tweeting, of course. 

6. Narrowcasting 

It’s fine to use twitter to tell people things, but it’s better to be open.  If you are promoting a client say so.  Linking to a site or blog will be self explanatory and twitter can be a good way to drive traffic to a site.  Importantly your followers have chosen to follow you so many will be genuinely interested in what you say.  Use it with care because people can stop following you as easily as they started.  Nevertheless there are some very influential voices out there. 

7. Grandstanding

Mouth off now and again.  Get it off your chest.   Most of us do.

Twitter Tips for Jonathan Ross (and others)

21 12 2008

Jonathan Ross is the latest celebrity to seize the opportunity to self publish through the the microbogging channel Twitter.  It is part of the wonder of the the social web that a broadcaster can broadcast whilst still suspended from his BBC contract (although broadcasting is just one aspect of Twitter and if done exclusively defeats the object).  

Wossy as he calls himself on Twitter is not the first celebrity to use Twitter.  Stephen Fry has amassed an army of almost forty thousand followers.   What is fascinating is that Stephen Fry attracted the same number of followers in half a day (circa 1,500) that it took Wossy three weeks to attract.  

One of the reasons is that Stephen Fry, a technophile through and through,  picked up the online etiquette of micro-blogging immediately, whilst Wossy is still coming to terms with the finer points.  So here are some top tips.

1. Get a Clear Identity – It is fine to have an online persona if you’d rather travel the web incognito but most people want to identify themselves clearly.  Ross has used a doubtful soubriquet and a picture of his pooch in his profile. There is no link to any site that might validate that this is actually Jonathan Ross twittering.  I openly expressed doubt that it was actually he until a couple of journalists put me right.  

2. Follow Back  – This is an important part of the twitter ‘netiquette’.  You don’t have to follow everyone back but you should follow back a substantial proportion.   Twitter is a leveller and it requires reciprocity to work properly.   Many have talked of the frisson of excitement in getting an e-mail saying ‘Stephen Fry is now Following you on Twitter”.

3. Engage in Conversations – You can direct a comment directly at an individual with an ‘at post’ using the @ character at the start of the twitter name.  Clicking on the reply icon on any post does this automatically.  These conversations are in public (unlike the private direct messages that can only be sent to people who follow you) and they are an essential part of Twitter culture.  For celebrities this is really important because fans can get a piece of you and all it costs is 140 characters.  Wossy admits he didn’t get this at first but now converses with the best of them. 

4. Provide Some Real Insight Provide some information that people can’t get elsewhere.  It adds to the sense of community and it gives real reasons to follow.  I

5. Cross Promote – We all use Twitter to tell people what we are doing, what we think or to add links to something we have done.  We should also promote things which interest us that other people have done.  It is good to do and they might do it back.

6. Quality not just Quantity – this speaks for itself in both in terms of what we post and who we follow which in turn impacts on who follows us.  It’s not just about numbers.  

If you are reading this Wossy give it a go and watch your Twitter Rank rise and rise.  Sadly we may never hear you say the words Twitter Rank but we can imagine.

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