Recently, I’ve come across a number of people that are just starting to “get into” Twitter. Having been tweeting for nearly 3 years, I think I’ve grasped the main concept and have witnessed both good and bad use of this social media vehicle. So I thought I’d note down some general guidance for those “neweeters” out there that would like to start tweeting.
Twitter is described as a micro-blogging site, allowing you to update your status in 140 characters. However, I see many different uses of Twitter, it is a great way to keep in touch of industry trends/happenings, a great source of information – just ask a question on Twitter and I guarantee you’ll get an informed response within seconds if you have a large enough following – through to companies using it as a support forum.
This blog, however, is designed to give input and advice to the first time user community.
1. Choose a name (handle) that either bears a resemblance to your real name or is indicative of your interests. My handle, @Rimmergram, is a combination of my name and my love of communicating. It has also been said, in the past, to receive a ‘Rimmergram’ was not something that was a pleasant read, as it meant you had done something pretty bad to receive one! In my ‘Twitterverse’ a Rimmergram is, hopefully, a pleasant read 🙂
If asked for your twitter handle, it is always preceded by the @ symbol, this is how people connect with you on Twitter and links to your Twitter profile.
2. Having chosen and created your handle, you then need to create your profile. Like Twitter, your profile is restricted to 140 characters. So be precise and succinct. Do not, however, go the other way and NOT include a profile. People will not necessarily follow you if they don’t know anything about you.
3. Next step is to include an avatar. People either use a picture of themselves, a cartoon representation of themselves or something completely off the wall! My preference is to use a photo that looks like you, this way, when you do get to meet your followers, they can at least recognize you 🙂
4. Once you’re set up, then you need to start following people in your sphere of interest. I find the best way is to look at the list of tweeps other people are following and start following them.
5. Accessing Twitter. You can either do this via twitter.com or use an application. I use Tweetdeck as I track different accounts and hashtags (in fact I have 14 columns!) on my laptop and iPad and on my iPhone I like the Echofon app.
For me, etiquette is common sense and, as with email, do not type something that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. There is also different etiquette, in my opinion, depending upon your twitterverse and area of interest. There seems to be certain etiquette in tweeting with celebrities, but personally, I don’t follow any! But there are certain things I’ve witnessed on Twitter that I personally don’t agree with this. Below I highlight just a few, there are various sites that highlight twettiquette, I quite like this one, but below are just a couple of suggestions from yours truly:
Do not use Twitter to get into a slanging match
Do not use Twitter for a conversation, use the DM function or email
Do not reply to a tweet that was sent days ago
Know with whom you are tweeting – they could be a customer of yours!
I strongly advise against sending Dweets, see glossary below!
Do use Twitter as an information medium, both sharing and receiving
Do turn Twitter off if you are concentrating on completing a task, it’s highly intrusive and addictive.
Direct Message (aka DM) – you can DM people on Twitter only if they are following you.
Follower – someone that subscribes to your tweets. You don’t necessarily have to follow them back (unlike Facebook where all relationships have to be reciprocal, you can have a one-way relationship on Twitter)
Dweet – a tweet sent when drunk
Hashtags # – used to highlight a particular topic that can then be searched on and tracked to see if it is trending. A popular hashtag is #FF or #FollowFriday. This is used to highlight tweeps you feel are worthy of following
OH – stands for overheard, tweets that are not associated with an identifiable person
PRT – please retweet – although if a tweet is good enough it will be retweeted on it’s own merits, only in special cases should you request your tweet to be retweeted
Re-Twee (RT)t – essentially a ‘forward’ of your tweet to the retweeter’s followers
Tweeple, twerson, tweeps – all terms for people using Twitter
Tweetup – a face-to-face meeting of tweeps
Twitterati – the A-listers of Twitter
Twitterverse – the Twitter Universe, it’s big and growing at an exponential rate.
Twitosphere – the world of Twitter
Success on Twitter, for me, is defined by having one of my tweets retweeted (RT’d) by someone I hugely admire and respect on Twitter – it means they’re interested in something I’ve tweeted enough to forward to their followers.
For those diehard tweeters like me you can find out your “twuration” by visiting www.twuration.com. Here I learnt I’ve been tweeting since 4th December 2008 and, on average, I tweet 6.6 times a day – is this verging on addiction I ask myself?!
Finally, if you do tweet something you’d rather not have, you can delete a tweet, but remember, if you’ve include a hashtag or @someone, then they might well have seen it before you delete it and can then, in turn, retweet it!
Jane Rimmer is owner of hiviz-marketing , strategic marketing consultancy servicing the IT industry and a 2011 vExpert.