Some of my readers might get a minor shock, I know. How to start tweeting? What is going on? I know, I know…but you see, the last two years of work have opened my eyes to the reality to the social media situation: we, geeks, web addicts and “enthusiasts” live in a box just as much as anybody else. Only that our box is probably full of buttons, touch screens and push notifications.
So what do you do when your friend is asking you suddenly – what is Twitter? Why do people tweet? How do I start? People ask me those questions on a daily basis. Actually nowadays I start to see more and more people around me increasingly expressing interest in basic social media tools. So, let’s look at how we can help them in kicking off their Twitter adventure! (I would like to point out that I am not being sarcastic here, I genuinely want to share some basic tips for those who need them.)
1. Sign up to Twitter.com.
It sounds dumb, but Twitter sign up is pretty intuitive and once you start entering your data you will be guided through the entire process. Simply let it take you! I know it’s a difficult step to make for those who distrust tech and hear many terrible stories about privacy issues going wrong, but at this stage, you really do not have to worry about it.
2. Check all the available settings.
Play around with the design of your Twitter profile. Click through all the areas of your Twitter dashboard. Do not worry if you are a bit confused – it’s ok, you are supposed to be, it’s all new and really you will get more and more familiar with it once you start reading and later posting.
3. Think about your bio and avatar.
If you are happy for your friends and public to see your tweets (check privacy settings if you want to protect your updates) and fairly open about yourself why not to replace the default avatar with your photo – it makes your profile genuine and friendly. It also makes it easier for your friends to recognise you. If you are shy just use a photo of your cat;) Bio is a short intro about you so you can be creative here too. Usually, it works better to say something genuine, something that will make your followers smile maybe?
4. Start following others.
It’s a nice habit to first listen then speak up so look around Twitter – search box can be amazing! Find your favourite “celebrities” (writers of your favourite contemporary novels are probably here already;)), search for people you know off-line (you can ask your friends if they are on Twitter). Use other social media, for example, Facebook, to find out if your friends use Twitter. Follow them and read their tweets. Learn from them. Just by following their stream you will pick up a lot about the current Twitter etiquette.
5. Write your first tweet.
Now, here is where my friends and clients often stop! “I do not know what to write!” – honestly? I think this statement in itself is a perfect tweet;) Simply be humble, open, honest. Say hi! Say what you think of Twitter. Admit how you feel about it. Make it clear that you are new in this “Twittersphere”. And I am sure people will come back with a warm welcome, your friends will also help you out. Just imagine you are walking into a party and need a quick ice-breaker;) As long as you are nice and genuine, it’s all going to be a beginning of a great adventure.
6. Respond to tweets.
If you see something interesting, inspiring, moving – retweet it or reply to it with your opinion. See where this conversation will take you. Your friends will say hi, respond to them. Remember: you really do not need to impress anyone.
7. BE YOURSELF.
Twitter is what you make of it. (The entire web is, I think). Keep it as your mantra and make the most of it for yourself, your friends, your networks. Reach out to new people, browse through the search for topics of interest, your hobbies or current events. There is so much out there! I am sure you will learn and meet great people on Twitter – just be honest with everyone, polite and show your real self.
These are very general rules. I have a collection of first tweets of some of my friends and clients and I find it amazing to look back at those when all of their authors have moved to really passionate conversations and stage when they meet their Twitteratti friends off-line at events, work on projects together, help each other. But then again, if you do not make those few first steps, if you do not experiment a little bit, you will not embrace Twitter. You really need to get on and do it!
Good luck and let me know how it goes (@presleysylwia – say hi!;))!