So this post has been a long time coming - I've been planning it in my head for awhile - mainly since everyone noticed that my mum has joined twitter. (no I'm not telling you who she is, you'll have to figure it out yourself). This is in no way a definitive guide to using twitter or even the top most important tips - if you type "Twitter Top Tips" into google you'll get a zillion responses. Instead this is just my personal pointers on a few key things about twitter.
I am guessing that a lot of people who read this blog are already on twitter, in which case you might already know/think most of this stuff - but I just thought I'd put it out there anyway. Just to be helpful! So let's get started....
Anti-Eggs: Why You Need A Picture.
This is my biggest Twitter bugbear – when people don’t have a picture but keep the egg icon. Don’t keep that stupid egg – it either says “hello, I am a spambot and I’m going to PISS YOU OFF` or it says `I’ve joined Twitter and I don’t really know why but hey! I’m here”
It only takes a second to change it but voila, it now says `Hi, I might actually be a real live human here wanting to interact with other people`. Which is a good thing. You don’t want to put people off from the very outset.
You don’t necessarily need to use a picture of yourself – I know a lot of people like to use social networks semi-anonymously – but at least use something that is personal to you. It tells people about you and might make them want to follow you or talk to you or follow your blog/check out your website.
Also FYI – any picture of a girl in a bikini/bra/low cut top/short dress is likely to be a spambot. Unless you are after a rather particular kind of follower, steer clear of this kind of image. In my opinion anyway!
It’s All About The Strapline or, Why Profile Info Is Important
Okay so when you click on someone’s profile you can see a few words below their twitter name. In fact when you joined Twitter you had to fill out your own version – in 160 characters. These 160 characters are possibly the most important 160 characters you’ll ever write on twitter. They tell the tworld and his twife, why they should follow you.
It can be hard to know what to put here, after all how can you sum up yourself in a few short words right? Well actually, it’s kind of fun, be creative and think outside the box *cringes at use of naff cliché*. I see lot of profiles where people define themselves by their relationships to others (see this post) but I would like to start a campaign to encourage people to think more imaginatively about these words. I know that it’s great that you’re a mum, wife, sister, husband, brother etc – but what else should we know about you?
It’s all about how you want to come across and how you want people to see you - my profile is kind of silly – because I have a silly sense of humour. However, I’m deaf and I like to throw that into the mix and challenge people’s perceptions of disability. I also mention the webbed toes because….well, actually I don’t know why, I guess it’s just a stupid little factoid about me. I guess the point is no one can really sum themselves up in 160 characters – it’s impossible and far too subjective – so you might as well have a little fun with it.
Finally, don’t feel like your profile words are static and engraved in stone once you’ve written them. I go and tweak mine every couple of months – after all, beavering might not be my favourite word forever!
These Are Not The Tweeps You Are Looking For (Part 1 - Mix It Up)
Okay when you join Twitter it’s kind of like walking into one ginormous party alone – and we all know what that’s like. It’s normal to follow people you know IRL to reassure yourself “hey, I know people, I’m not a total loser”. However, BE BRAVE, follow people that you don’t necessarily know but interest you.
Okay, yes, this is the online equivalent of going up to a group of random strangers at a party, but that’s the fun of Twitter – you can meet and follow so many cool and interesting new people that way. Without having to wear hurty shoes and that dress that makes you feel fat. In fact you’re more likely to be in your pj’s or on your commute home from work – or is that just me?
However, I have one caveat to this - as much as it’s good to mix it up and follow lots of different people – when you join choose carefully. Follow a few people at a time and build it up over a few days. It is tempting to rush off and follow every celebrity/band/actor/author/magazine/paper/blog that you like. But then you get a homepage that it kind of like a sensory overload. It’s like eavesdropping on 100’s of conversations all at once and it’s hard to even get started without feeling like you’re majorly butting in.
These Are Not The Tweeps You Are Looking For (Part 2 - Hashtags)
So you’re saying “Okay, I’ve got my nice picture, I’m following a few people but how do I find more people?”……this is where the magic of hashtags comes it. Before I explain what a hashtag is, here are a few I’ve used recently:
A hashtag is where you put `#` in front of a word and it becomes a searchable link on Twitter. It’s really clever! So whatever interests you have – reading, running, knitting, crafting, fashion, cycling, blogging, music, festivals – just type it into the twitter search box with a hash first and you’ll come up with a ginormous real-time list of people on Twitter talking about that very thing.
Once you’ve gotten the list up, check out the profiles of people who interest you – and start following them. Chances are you’ll have things in common, especially if you start talking to them…
It Ain’t What You Say, It’s The Way That You Say It
Apologies for the terrible paraphrasing, but I wanted a snappy title for this point – it’s the last one in the post so listen carefully! It is hard to know what to tweet and how to start talking to people. I see a lot of tweeps making the mistake of just pumping information out there in a scattergun effect without taking the time to interact with people. You can push out information if you’re a news aggregator, you can’t if you’re a person and you want people to talk to you – it’s a little like walking into a party and shouting out random things at the top of your voice to no-one in particular.
I guess I have a few simple rules about talking to people on Twitter
- When you follow someone, say hi and let them know you’re following them – perhaps comment on Why you’re following them or mention a tweet you’ve liked.
- When someone follows you, acknowledge it – say hi and thank them – and follow them back if you think they look interesting.
- Thank people for retweets
- Retweet other tweets
- Be polite when replying to a tweet that is part of a conversation with someone else (“apologies for crashing….”)
And finally - this is the biggest one - don't use text speak! Write nicely, when I see tweets with lots of acronyms, hashtags, LOLs, txt spk, it just makes my eyes bleed. Make your tweet look pretty and readable - and you're more likely to get people to respond. Simples!
So those are my top tips at the minute. I might come back to this post in a few months and add some more if I think of them but that's all for now. Feel free to leave any comments or thoughts below.
Thank you and goodnight
Stupidgirl has left the building