10 Twitter Tips to Get You Started

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed after talking with some people who are confused by or hate on twitter, as well as some mistakes I’ve seen made by new people who follow me.  These are written to be understood by my mom, a budding technology user who has never been on twitter before in her life.  That means that even if you still type with hunt and peck, or don’t know how to set your facebook privacy settings, you’ll still be able to create an account and use twitter.  Not that my mom should do that.  Oh no…

  1. If you’re terrified of it or don’t understand it, don’t worry.  It’s like facebook status updates but without all the farmville junk getting in the way.  Well really, facebook stole twitter’s format because it’s so popular, but ya know.
  2. Don’t worry too much about your username–you can change it later!  Try not to make it too long or people won’t retweet you.
  3. Fill out some of the profile information and make a bio.  It doesn’t have to be great and you can change it later.  But people with similar interests are more likely to follow you if you look less spammy and show these interests right away (when they get an email saying you follow them, it will show your username, picture and bio.  So you should have all three.) 
  4. RT: it means re-tweet.  Don’t plagiarize our tweets!  you don’t even have to think about it now that twitter has an RT button on the right.  Oh and feel free to add “please rt” to the end of your tweets.  I generally don’t do it unless the tweet is related to a cause, but it’s definitely effective.
  5. # is pronounced hashtag.  It’s a simple way of allowing your tweets to be found by the twitter search engine.
  6. Make a few tweets before you start following people like crazy.  Maybe have twitter for a few days and play around with it.  When you start, follow your friends and some big ticket items, like news outlets and favorite sports teams, who are likely to follow back.  But most importantly, if you don’t have  a picture and some tweets, you’re going to look spammy to people who don’t know you.
  7. Source your tweets from what you’re already doing.  Those links you send friends?  The little witty comments you make on facebook or as your messenging status?  Those are basically tweets already, they’re just not on twitter.
  8. Use a link shortener.  Something like bit.ly (litterally type “bit.ly” into the browser).  You put in an ugly long link, and it will spit out a pretty little one.  And of course, try to offer a little headline or explanation of the link in your tweet so people know what they’re clicking on.
  9. Don’t worry about doing it wrong, or nto having anything worthwhile to say, or not being on twitter enough.  Babysteps, and get as involved as feel inclined to. 
  10. Remember, twitter is about communication.  It is the world’s biggest conversation, and standard conversation rules apply: don’t just talk about yourself, don’t take credit for what other people say, don’t ignore when someone talks right to you (when they write @(your name) or send you a direct message) and don’t be spammy. 

Don’t worry if you mess up, don’t have a lot of followers or aren’t changing the world right away.  Twitter can be used for a lot of things, but it wasn’t invented as a way to change modern humanity.  Critics say it doesn’t “do” anything, but neither do video games or yo-yos, and we seem okay with them.

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