Monday, April 26, 2010

Twitter for Beginners - Part One

So I am a bit of a Twitter fiend. I love Twitter, I think it is a phenomenal tool for learning, sharing information, networking, crowd sourcing, news gathering, venting, solving problems, showing appreciation. I use Twitter for so many different purposes, that I often find it hard to explain to people the point of Twitter. I get in a bit of a jumble and tend to not explain it very well.

This way I get to edit, so here's hoping that it goes a little better. Please be aware however, you are going to have to read all parts to this to understand fully why I love Twitter and how you can utilise it best. I'm not sure if it is going to be 2 or 3 part... We'll see how much I can cover off.

So Twitter is classified as a micro-blogging tool. 140 characters to get out what you have to say. In the text message age we live in, this is actually not a hard thing - we're accustomed to abbreviating and finding new ways to express ourselves these days.

So, you set up a Twitter account. Then what? What I hear more than anything else from new twitterers is "no one wants to know what I had for lunch" but actually, they couldn't be more wrong. I promise I will explain why, later. In the meantime, let's say, no, they don't. So what is the point.

Like many things (including Facebook) Twitter is something that takes a little time to get into. At first you feel like a bit of a dick, following people, when you have no followers, and you have to hunt them out, it is all a little overwhelming. Where do you start?

Step 1: Set up your account. You don't need to use your real name in your user name, but I would highly recommend using it when setting up your account. When followed by some random username and fullname which is not recognisable, I pretty much ignore them and don't even bother looking to see what they have to say, which means no returned follow. Because of the number of spam accounts out there, anything that makes you personable (as that is what Twitter is about, having conversations with other real people) helps to build your followers which gives you people to start having conversations with.

I would also recommend that you put actual information about yourself in the bio area (don't use mine as a reference) and utilise the option of including a website if you have a blog or in fact your own site.

Next issue, who to follow? Well, here's the thing. Most people jump on Twitter because someone they know is on Twitter.

Step 2: Find the people who you know are already on Twitter:
Step 3: Once you find them, check out who they are following. If you know them there is a likelihood that they are following other people that you know, or may have heard of. Check under 'following' on the right hand side:
Step 4: If they're a pain in the arse like me who follows like 550 odd people, then see if they have utilised the 'lists' function on Twitter. I find that this is the most underestimated tool on Twitter. What a user can do is create their own list of followers and even people they do not follow and categorize them. In this instance, I have a list titled 'nz-adagency' where I have listed people I follow, and a few others as being in the agency world in NZ:

Say you are also in the agency world, this list would potentially be of interest to you, and you could either follow the list, or all the people on the list.

OK. So, hopefully after those 4 steps you can set up an account and start making your way around Twitter a little. I would suggest sending 1 tweet which does acknowledge that you're just getting started so that when people check you out it gives them hope that there will be more to come.

The next most important thing to do on Twitter as far as I'm concerned, is to download an API so that you don't have constantly log into Twitter on the web (and constantly refresh the page) it is a waste of time and you can make it work for you much better.

I am going to cover APIs and the ways you can use them to make your Twitter experience more seamless in Part Two. I promise that Part Two will be up this week. I'm aiming for tomorrow, but no guarantees.

EDIT: In case you are RSS'ing this and haven't read the comments - apparently I don't mean API, I mean a Twitter client. So, tomorrow - or today - Twitter clients. Yay!

1 comment:

gliderguider said...

Looking forward to Part 2.

Jut one thing .. you don't "download an API". An API (Application Programming Interface) is something that people other than Twitter can use to write programs that you then download and use.

I think the phrase you were looking for is "Twitter client".