Monday, May 4, 2009

Twitter for Beginners - A Six Step Guide

Everyone's talking about it. The world is atwitter with Twitter. Here's a quick beginners guide to getting started. You may as well jump in and see what all the hubbub is about, right? Come on in, the water is fine.

1. Get Started, Join Twitter

Go to to get started. Lots of folks use their own names for their profile as a sort of personal brand, but if you prefer to use a moniker, that’s also accepted. Twitter will ask for your email though, so if you’re truly interested in remaining private you may want to create an email account with that same alias.

2. Customize your Profile

Once you have an account, you’ll want to customize it and make it interesting and easy for others to follow. In the upper right hand corner you’ll notice your profile information. On top of the profile information you’ll find the navigation bar. Click on the Settings tab. There you can upload a photo, add a brief bio and include a link to your blog or website. That way, fellow Twitterers can get an immediate idea of who you are and what you’re likely to be Twittering about.

3. Start Tweeting

This is the fun part. Place your curser in the open box at the top and answer the question “What are you doing?” Don’t worry that you don’t have anything pithy to say right off the bat, inspiration will come in time. It can be as simple as “hey, I’m new here” to “All glory comes from daring to begin ~Anonymous.”

The key is to consistently add tweets, whether that is every day, every week or every month. The level of participation is up to you. Just as in everything else in life though, Twitter works best when you regularly contribute. The more you contribute, the more likely you are to find value in it.

Start with topics that interest you, but keep it brief. Twitter only allows 140 characters to get your point across. You can also add informational links that make your tweets even more interesting.

4. Find People with Similar Interests

Use the search bar your Twitter homepage or Twitter search to search on topics you find engaging and start following others with similar interests as you. Or check out Tweetbin to follow a number of topics at once. Follow people you think are intriguing.

5. Initiate Two-Way Conversations

Open a dialogue with other Twitterers. Reply to their Tweets using @username to identify who you’re Tweeting with. ReTweet something of interest using RT @username (RT = short for re-Tweet).

Remember to listen for the other side of the conversation. Search on your own Twitter name in the homepage search bar with either @username or username to see whose mentioning you. Conversations aren’t really conversations if you’re not exchanging messages. Be generous with your conversations. ReTweet frequently if you think the Tweet is valuable and always include the origin of the Tweet if it comes from another Twitterer.

6. Don’t Spam

Good manners apply on Twitter. Twitter is a social network, not a direct sales channel so sending repeated solicitation Tweets or Direct Mails tend annoy rather than attract people. Just like a cocktail party, a mention of an offer is usually ok, but sales pressure is sure to be rebuked.

Now that you have a voice in the Twitterverse, you’ll find a whole new world of information, resources, and social interaction sure to siphon the time from your day in an instantly gratifying, addictive, guilty pleasure.

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