How To Use Twitter

by Dan Harrington on July 13, 2011

Beginner’s Guide To Using Twitter Effectively To Achieve Your Goals including Advanced Tips for Twitter Success – Also Linking to Facebook and other Social Networks

The question of how to use Twitter has two parts. The first is the mechanics of how to join the social networking site, create a profile, and begin to send and receive messages, which are known as tweets.

The second is how to use Twitter in an effective manner that achieves your goals, which are different for each person.

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The Manifold Uses of Twitter Social Networking

Some people use Twitter simply to communicate with their family and friends. Others use Twitter to direct internet traffic to their blog, website, Facebook page or other web properties. Still others are mainly focused on growing their business and getting the world out about their service, products or brand.

There are also many other uses for Twitter that are not at first apparent, from surveying a qualified group of people on a particular topic and getting expert advice to following breaking news or organizing an event.

Twitter Emerging As A Force On Many Fronts

Some people now use Twitter like Google, and instead of searching on Google they simply send out a tweet and get real-time answers. Twitter is also an increasingly popular source of news, particularly during major events when Twitter is often the closest and best source of the news as it happens.

Twitter has also been used prominently in political campaigns (e.g., Barack Obama), and has played a major role in various national protests from Egypt to Tunisia to Iran.

The list of Twitter uses goes on and on, and the more you become adept at using Twitter the better you will be at exploring its many uses and benefitting from the service in a variety of ways.

How To Use Twitter – Getting Started On Twitter

It only takes a few minutes to register on Twitter. Pick a username that is short and memorable. It may take a few tries to find one that is not taken. Don’t use too long of a username as it will take up too much room in messages when people mention you.

You have the option to fill out some bio information in your Twitter profile and it may only be 160 characters long so make the best of it. The profile should fit your goals using Twitter and can mention anything you wish to help promote your brand. This profile is what many people use to decide if they want to “follow” your tweets so make sure it is appealing.

Using Twitter Effectively – Uploading Your Avatar To Your Twitter Profile

You can also upload a photo or logo and this “avatar” is shown along with your tweets and also shown in your profile. There is also a spot in your profile to list a web address (e.g., your website or Facebook page).

Once you have registered for Twitter you can send and receive tweets at will. Search Twitter for the topic you are interested in and find suitable Twitter users to “Follow.”

This is done by simply clicking your mouse on a follow button alongside the Twitter user’s profile information.

Effective Twitter Use Depends On Gaining High-Quality Followers

The general goal is to gain a large number of Twitter followers and engage with them, but the most important thing is that they are not just random followers.

The most effective use of Twitter is to gain high-quality followers who are involved in your same market niche or interested in the same topic or category that you are.

Following and Following Back On Twitter

You will find that for every ten people you follow, usually one to five may follow you back . The more they share a similar interest to you, and the more appealing your bio is, the more likely they will follow you back.

You can always review later the people or companies that did not follow you back, and if you wish you can then “unfollow” them.

Eventually you will want to do this thinning out of people you follow at least to some degree in order to make sure the number of people you follow does not exceed by too much the number of people who follow you.

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How To Use Twitter continued – How Often Should I Tweet On Twitter

General Twitter etiquette is only loosely defined but if you use common sense you will be fine. Don’t dominate the Twitter conversation. Engage other users rather than always talk about yourself. Ask questions, mention other tweets you appreciated, and retweet them.

Make sure your tweets are well-crafted and offer some value to your followers. If you send a link in your tweet make sure it relates to what your tweet talks about.

Avoid Blatant and Redundant Self-Promotion

Whatever you do, don’t send an endless stream of self-promotional tweets. Twitter is not a billboard, it is a conversation, and the most effective use is to engage your followers in a conversation and build up a network that can slowly and appropriately be leveraged to help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be.

Thus if you have many very interesting things to say during the course of a day it is not inappropriate to send numerous tweets, or if you are engaged in an online conversation with a group you may be contributed repeated tweets over a period of time.

Otherwise you may just keep up a regular schedule of sending one to three tweets a day to make sure you stay engaged and work to further your Twitter goals.

Staying Engaged With the Twitter Audience – Learning How To Use Twitter Effectively

Spend some time each day crafting appealing tweets, perhaps providing links to interesting items including your own web properties (e.g., blog, website, Facebook page).

If anyone has followed you, mentioned you, retweeted one of your tweets or sent you a direct message you should take a moment to respond which may include a simple thank you, and perhaps a complement about that Twitter user’s own tweets or their website or blog. For example, “@JimCTW Thanks for retweeting my post. I check out your blog, really liked it.”

Using Hashtags To Increase Your Twitter Exposure

The unique Twitter feature called hashtags allows you to mark certain words with an # symbol which helps define the primary topic and helps other interested Twitter users find the tweet. A word or a phrase may be placed after the # symbol (e.g., #Mets, #Espresso, #PinotNoir, etc.) within the tweet or at the beginning or end.

Users searching for those hashtags will then be able to find your tweet. The hashtag groups tweets together based on topic. Search for important hashtags in your topic area using Twitter search to help get ideas on how to write popular tweets that are interesting to your Twitter audience.

How To Use Twitter – Go Slowly and Build Up Your Online Twitter Reputation

As you consistently work on finding high-quality targeted Twitter followers in your niche and continue providing interesting tweets in your topic area and conversing with and engaging other Twitter users in your industry, you will gradually build up a network of business relationships which you can use to promote your brand.

Don’t be overly self-promotional as you will scare followers away. Concentrate on providing value and let your network grow. Eventually you will have a powerful tool in your large following that is centered around the theme of your industry, service or category. Once your online reputation is solid your Twitter followers will be more likely to click on your links.

How To Use Direct Messaging On Twitter – Guide To Using Twitter continued:

Twitter users are allowed to send direct (and private) messages to people who are following them. This messages do not go into the Twitter stream nor do they show up under your name when people search for you.

Direct messages may be used to thank people though this is often better done as a “Mention” which goes into the Twitter stream and gives the person you are thanking some positive publicity.

Direct messaging may also be used between two people who are engaged in a private conversation, and in this case it is much more appropriate than the two people dominating the Twitter stream with their back and forth conversation. Twitter is about everyone being engaged and when two people are talking only to each other they are better off using direct messages.

General Twitter etiquette is to not use direct messaging for overt advertising. This is a quick way to get unfollowed by someone. You can post your promotional material in the public Twitter stream, and save the direct message option for courteous personal messages that will enhance your online connections and not annoy people.

How To Use Twitter – Sharing Images and Videos with your Twitter Following

Linking to photos and videos can be a great way to provide value to your Twitter following as well as other Twitter users who may come across your tweet in other ways such as through retweets or in Twitter Searches using hashtags.

Linking Your Twitter and Facebook Accounts

When using Twitter for business marketing along with your Facebook account it helps to have the two linked together seamlessly. You can set this up so that one post will appear on both accounts.

There are various third party applications that will help with this and provide a diversity of features, but the easiest way to handle it is to visit the page on the Facebook site called “Link Your Facebook Page To Twitter.”

You will be asked for your Twitter username and password, and then you can click “Allow” and it will set up the connection for you automatically.

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