Top Ten Tips for Using Twitter

Social media can bring traffic to your website.  Facebook connects you with people you already know, and a few of their friends – LinkedIn is great for building a network of like-minded professionals, but twitter can quickly reach the parts other social media can’t. It has an undeserved reputation for trivia. Used well it is the most effective medium for connecting with a broad audience and hunting out special interest groups. There are few better ways to share information fast and effectively. It just takes a little time and effort and a bit of practice.

First sign up and follow the twitter guide to the basics, all available here. Familiarise yourself with the basic functions in the picture here and then follow the tips below for more effective tweeting.

1. Be yourself
Follow some basic rules of twittiquette which are not unlike the rules of social etiquette- be polite, be informative, be interesting. You can also be fun, but don’t force it. Make sure your tweets have something to say but make it punchy and arresting if you can. Use topical references, puns, even shock to get noticed. But above all, as they always say, be yourself. It is hard to keep up a persona that isn’t quite you, and authenticity always wins through in the end. You might be formal or informal, but be true.

2. Find some good friends
The big problem with twitter is that until you have followers, nobody sees what you are tweeting. Dispiriting and pointless. So how to make a start? Look for people you know are in your field of interest. – you can search twitter for names or hunt out peoples twitter handles on the internet. Follow them (see the guide) and send them an @theirtwittername message to introduce yourself, or better still some information that might be of interest or use to them. Or send a relevant reply to one of their tweets. Keep at it – twitter streams are fast and people have a lot of followers, or may simply be doing something else at the time. It is easy to get lost in the traffic so don’t take a lack of response as a snub. Be persistent. Hope that as time goes on you will get a few retweets and follows back. Sadly this can be exciting.

3. Be very nice to your followers
If someone adds you as a follower send them a nice message to thank them and tweet something friendly – look out for their tweets and reply or retweet when relevant. Use #Follow Friday to promote your favourites. When people you follow tweet something of interest to you, reply and retweet when you can – it will get you noticed and seem friendly. But don’t over do it or it can seem creepy. Don’t be a twart. (See tip no 1).

4. Follow the master’s master
If you find someone with similar interests or objectives on twitter who is established, look at who they are following – those are people you may want to connect with too – many will be relevant and worth a follow. Be discerning though – their relatives and neighbours and hobbies may be there too. You also don’t want to follow too many people or your twitter stream will get too busy.

5. Make it a regular habit
Set a regular slot each day, for say half an hour, to look over your twitter stream.  Click the (@connect), reply to messages. Check the new stream or # subjects of interest and retweet a few.  Then send out some new tweets. Send a mixture of stuff and see how it goes down – some serious, some personal, some light. It is social media after all.

6. Ride the hash-tag # waves
Hash tags connect interest groups and ideas on twitter irrespective of followers, so a great place for the initially friendless, or to promote a message more widely. Here are the top tips for hash-tags:

Search a hash-tag entry to see who is tweeting about it (search bar at the top of your twitter page). If it seems appropriate send some of them a message, reply or follow .
Add hash-tags to your tweets whenever relevant. They will then be noticed by others who are interested in your topic.
Ride the trending or hash-tag wave – see what is trending on twitter (listed on your home page) and see if there is any way that your message can be made to fit with it. Then launch it out into the trending topic stream (suitably hash-tagged where necessary).
The same with tv programmes- many twitterati tweet to each other during popular tv and radio shows – if a programme relevant to you or of general interest comes up, join the fray. Send out pertinent, apposite, witty and astonishingly insightful tweets (with the relevant hash-tag of course) and you will soon find yourself re-tweeted and followed. Note there may be several different hash-tags set up for each programme – to be safe, use them all.

Four great tools 

7. Search out relevant tweets and tweeters with twilert
To find who is interested in your topic sign up for twilert (its free) and set some keywords relevant to your cause/business. Twilert will collect all of the tweets containing your key word every 24 hours and email them to you. Look over them and reply, re-tweet, message and follow where relevant. Do this once a day for 15 minutes and you will soon have a network of relevant tweeters built up.  If the keywords aren’t working (too many results- too few), use others.

8. Manage your twitter account with lists
Using lists on twitter can save a lot of time and effort later. Add followers to lists you have created when you come across them, under relevant topics like friends, local people, interest groups etc. Then you can make more sense of your twitter stream by reading and writing to a sub group of your followers. Have a look at other people’s lists too. These could give you another source of relevant tweeters to connect with. Another great way to find friends and followers and to network effectively.

9. Hootsuite for easy management

Try Hootsuite (also free) which will allow you to sign in, monitor and manage a range of social media and twitter lists more easily. When getting started it may seem a fuss, but once your tweeting and facebooking etc get busy, hootsuite is a great way to manage and coordinate all your social media at once – a great time saver. Try it!

10. Better links with Bitly 
You will of course be adding links to your tweets back to your website and cause/business as often as is decent, but Bitly is invaluable. It will do two things for you – shorten the link so that it fits into a tweet in very few characters, freeing up space for more fascinating and witty content – and it will give you a breakdown of how often, when and from where the link was read. Useful feedback to see what kind of stuff is actually interesting the punters. Sending people links to what they like is also a great way to stay popular. Nearly everybody seems to like a cute animal video or funny picture.

FastNet Websites for all your web design, e-commerce and digital marketing. Working across West Cork in Clonakilty, Bandon, Skibbereen and Bantry.

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