This blog is for all those who have not yet signed up for Twitter but want to get started. If you are a savvy Twitter user, don’t read this blog; but you might be interested in my “Top 5 Dos and Don’ts for Twitter” blog.
I frequently get asked “how do I get started on Twitter” – and in future, I want to be able to simply forward this blog as an answer. It’s my passion to get people excited about social media and to share the things that I’ve been lucky to learn.
Here’s “How to get Started on Twitter in 10 Easy Steps”:
1. Go to http://www.twitter.com
2. Sign up: Name, Email, Password (change password periodically for security)
3. Pick your username: Short & Memorable (think of people typing with 2 fingers on a PDA). I am @nathomson vs. @natascha_thomson. @nathomson is what is called my Twitter handle.
4. Set up your profile (Twitter will give you a page to do that after signing up), or simply go to http://www.twitter.com/yourhandle (e.g. mine is http://www.twitter.com/nathomson) at any time. You have a “home page”, which shows all your friends’ Tweets, and a “Profile” page for all your Tweets. On the “profile” page, there’s an “edit your profile” URL under the box for the picture. Select it. Now, all you have to do is:
5. Upload a picture. I learned in my first week on Twitter that if you don’t have a real picture, people question your sincerity and committment (exception for corporate handles and the like, e.g. @SAP).
6. Complete your bio. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. The bio provides all people know about you on Twitter before they get to know you (apart from your picture and handle name). The bio tells people WHY you are on Twitter, that is WHAT you are planning to Tweet about. It communicates your brand on Twitter. Think well about who you want to be on Twitter and that this creates a permanent record in your history. I never follow people who don’t have a bio. You can also add a URL to your blog or LinkedIn page.
7. Create lists. Go to your “profile” section and click the lists drop down. “Create a list”. My lists range from “Social Media Experts” to “Close friends”. All that matters is that you can put any person you decide to follow in a list right away, in a list that later on makes sense for you to monitor. Otherwise you will never be able to use Twitter in a meaningful way because it gets overwhelming. For example, I can browse my “Social Media Experts” list in the morning for the latest news in that area, and my “Close friends” list when I need to relax.
8. Install (for free) Tweetdeck (or Hootsuite, or whatever tool you like; the point is: Twitter.com is not the way to manage Twitter successfuly) – Note: I have provided the URL to the OLD version of TweetDeck here - there is general agreement that as of Feb 2012 the new version of TweetDeck is almost unusable, so download here. Then log in with your Twitter account. When it launches the first time, you will think: “Wow, what’s this?”. Play around with the tool. You can have columns for:
- Direct Messages (D) that only you can see = private (or as private as the Internet gets); you can only DM people who are following you and who you are following.
- Mentions (@) – people used your Twitter handle in their Tweet (e.g. if they retweet you)
- All Friends – column of all the people you follow
- Click on “+” at the top in TweetDeck and add either a hashtag (e.g. #social) or a Twitter handle you’d like to follow (e.g. @SAPMentors). You’ll see all related messages in a separate column. (Hashtags are great to follow events, e.g. #sapphirenow, or topics, e.g. #yoga; people tend to make up their own # for fun, e.g. #FOMO (=fear of missing out) or #newbietoTwitterwatchout)
9. Find people to follow. To start, ask your friends or colleagues for their Twitter handles so that you can practice; also follow news sources. While all Tweets can be found on Google, if you start a message with @, e.g. @nathomson, the messsage goes (mostly) only to that person. They know you are directly addressing them. If you have a bio, other people will find you and follow you but there are many tools out there to find people with similar interests to yours; this blog lists some.
But, think quality not quantity. You don’t need to follow everybody who follows you, but most people will tell you that initially they did follow most people who followed them to get started. Just remember, once you have hundreds of followers, administration is a lot of work, so think ahead.
10. After TweetDeck opens, click on the yellow box at the top that says “Compose Update” and type your first message (YEAH!). I’d love to be your first Tweet, for example: “@nathomson Tips have worked out. Glad to be on Twitter. Please respond if you get this” :-). I might even Retweet you :-).
Now that you are flying solo, simply check out all the button on your Twitter.com page and on TweetDeck to learn more. It’s a lot of fun. You’ll make new friends and learn a lot, I can promise you that.
Feedback on this blog welcome! Enjoy!