A lot of people nowadays have joined Twitter, the online social network/microblogging site partially made famous by various celebrities around the world. However, it is unlike most social networks – if you add a person, the person does not necessarily add you back. In Twitter terms, it’s called “following” a person. If you follow someone and they follow you back, then you are “friends.” If you follow someone, you are their “fan” or “follower.”
I’ve been on Twitter for a while (2 years on June 23), so I’d say I know a bit about its mechanics. Here are a few of my tips about it:
1. Pimp your profile
Use a profile picture (one of yourself, preferably), fill in the Name, Location and Bio areas. If you have a website, Facebook, Card.ly profile, or any other page you want to link to, fill that field in as well. If you’re pretty good with graphics, you can design your own profile. You can also leave it up to the pros and get free Twitter designs instead. If you can help it, stick to only one Twitter alias. Your real name or a nickname is best, and it’s far less confusing for your followers/friends that way.
2. Update often, but not too much
It’s okay to tweet every so often. Once every few hours isn’t that bad actually. But if you tweet every second, especially about nonsense, useless stuff nobody could really care about (i.e. “I’m brushing my teeth!” Then 1 minute later, “I’m done brushing! Off to gargle!”). It goes without saying that you should be interesting. With many mobile applications out there, you can even tweet on the go using your cellphone/smartphone, iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, or whatever compatible mobile device you have. I like using Echofon and Mobile Tweete. If you really must say something longer than 140 characters, try TwitLonger.
3. Make friends
Treat it like you would any other social network. Add people, and if they follow you back, great! Start talking to them, and keep in touch. Don’t spam, and remember to be nice. Don’t be a stalker either, and never do the whole “follow, unfollow, then follow again” method just to get their attention. You can’t force people to follow you back
4. Spread it like wildfire
There are many Twitter widgets and plug-ins you can use to promote your account on your blog, MySpace, etc. Here on WordPress I use Twitter Tools, but Twitter also provides a few nifty widgets. On Facebook, there are apps such as the official one, and Selective Tweets.
There are two ways to send messages on Twitter. One is via “mentions.” You can manually type the @ sign followed by their user name, or just hit the reply button on one of their messages. Others choose to “retweet with comments.” These are public. Alternatively, you can send a DM (direct message), which is private. However, it requires that the one you’re sending a message to is following you. Also, if you don’t follow them back, they won’t be able to reply privately either.
6. Use Twitter following services
I personally use twiends.com, because it’s free and it’s unlike most services that require you to “follow VIPs” in order to get followed. You just do certain things like follow people for a certain amount of credit, or tweet once every 7 days about their site, among other options. Services such as this allows you to gain readers, and even friends (if you follow others and they follow you back, eventually leading to conversation).
7. Add pizazz to your tweets
If you like posting pictures, videos and music in your blogs, then you’ll love doing it on Twitter. There are many services such as TwitPic, TwitVid & twt.fm/twaud.io that allow you to post the media you need. Some mobile and desktop Twitter apps even integrate those services in their software! And if you’re the type that loves adding symbols to your tweets, try Twitter Symbols.
8. Just be you!
In everything you do, be yourself. Even on Twitter! Whether it’s the way you tweet, how often, what design you use, or the people you follow/respond to, if you’re not comfortable with it, don’t do it. And of course, HAVE FUN!