Lately, we’ve been setting up a lot of Twitter accounts for The 42nd Estate and our various sites and helping clients set up and optimize their Twitter accounts. During that process we’ve figured out that these first five steps are crucial to using Twitter effectively, especially for beginners. With the recent news that 60% of Twitter users quit Twitter after their first month, follow these guidelines to make sure you hit the ground running and stay tweeting.
- Upload a picture.
- Fill in your bio
- Send out 5-10 tweets
- Follow at least 20 other Twitter users
If you’re tweeting as yourself you should upload a real picture of yourself. Adding your real face to your Twitter account will help you feel more connected to the service and allow your followers to see the real person behind your tweets. The only exceptions are if you’re tweeting as a brand (for instance, we have our logo on The 42nd Estate’s Twitter account).
If you’re uploading a personal picture, make sure it’s cropped so we can see your face. The boxes that appear next to everyone’s tweets are really small so to stand out it should be a close-up of just your face. Don’t make the mistake many beginners make and skip the photo. The default brown photo is something that puts off many Twitter users and might make them skip over your profile and your tweets.
The bio is one of the most important fields on your Twitter profile. Really, all you get is a picture, your location, your web page URL and a 160 characters in your bio so it’s one of the first places people will check when determining if they want to follow you. Include a little bit of info about who you are and what you do but don’t forget to include some personal tidbits, like hobbies. Profiles that only include job titles come across as stiff and promotional rather than entertaining and engaging.
For instance, my bio (which admittedly needs some revising) reads:
Co-founder of The 42nd Estate, a freelance writing and blog consulting web media firm. When I’m not working I’m biking around Boston or reminiscing about BSG.
In the first line you find out my title, company and what we do. The next line dives into three of my interests, bicycling, Boston, and Battlestar Galactica (science-fiction). Immediately you get a feel for my personality and my industry.
Your tweets should be useful and interesting to your target market. Tweet out links to articles you enjoyed, expert tips, and keep the mundane detail tweets to a minimum. No, we don’t care if you just drank a cup of coffee or went to the bathroom. We do care about interesting events you’re attending, major milestones and other unique facts. It’s OK to tweet about your personal life but keep it to a minimum and don’t make it mundane. Twitter is all the rage amongst marketers right now but keep the self-promotion to a minimum too. Just like with any social network, it’s OK, and even encouraged, to share your own content but if that’s all you do we’ll tend to ignore you.
It’s best to focus on users who share similar interests with you. You can use Twitter directories to help you target certain users. WeFollow lists users by three tags that the users chooses while Twellow organizes users based on industries and locations. Once you’ve found a few users you want to follow, check out who they’re following to find even more interesting people to connect with. Over time you’ll add more and more people to tweet with but to start 20 should give you enough. We’d recommend more, say 42, to make sure your Twitter stream gets updated frequently but at a minimum 20 should suffice, for now.
Once you have a small list of friends built up, start communicating with them. Check out what they’re tweeting about and if you find their tweet interesting and useful, ReTweet it, or if you have something to add, @ reply them and get a conversation going. At its core, Twitter is a communication platform and you’ll gain the most out of it by treating it as such.
ReTweeting can be done via Twitter applications or via the web by copying the person’s tweet, and then placing RT @their_username in front of their tweet. This is a message to your followers that you found that person’s tweet interesting and are thus sharing it with them. @replies can be done by clicking the little reply button on the right side of everyone’s tweets (or via a reply function in a Twitter application).
All set with Twitter but need help with WordPress? Check out our First Five Steps for a WordPress Blog post.
Would you add any steps to the five we listed above? What did you first do when setting up your Twitter profile? Got any other tips for Twitter beginners that we missed?