Every week I co-host #SmallBizChat on Twitter. Of all the social networking platorms, Twitter is my favorite and has been instrumental in growing my visibility online and in making connections that have helped build my business.
But I know that to many people, Twitter can feel a little overwhelming. Not only that it can be slow to build a following that feels like it has any real value. Just like other platforms, Twitter takes time. It takes time to find the right people to follow, to learn what your audience will respond to, and to find the right tools that will help you reach your goals.
Facebook wasn’t built in a day – and neither will your Twitter following be built overnight. Learning Twitter can be a bit intimidating at first. Tweeps (the Twitter community) speak their own lingo and interact in a way that’s completely different than Facebook or LinkedIn.
How can you get a jumpstart on increasing your “Twitter savvy?“
Use these four tips to jump in feet first and avoid making potentially embarrassing mistakes.
Learn the Shorthand
Twitter users (aka. “tweeters”) have their own language. The language is often necessitated because of Twitter’s character length limit. Because you only have 140 characters, you’re more likely to say “PRT” than “Please retweet.” Twitter has a very comprehensive glossary you can view on their site: http://support.twitter.com/entries/166337-the-twitter-glossary. Learn the various common words and phrases used by the Twitter community.
Learn How to Use Hashtags
Hashtags are used primarily to identify messages on a certain topic. A good example is the hashtag #smallbizchat. We use that every Wednesday night so that people can find and easily follow our Twitter interviews with small business experts. Anyone can contribute to the discussion by simply adding the #smallbizchat hashtag to their tweet. Anyone seeing that tweet could just click that hashtag to see all messages tagged with #smallbizchat. This effectively creates an interactive chat room or message board of sorts on the spot. Click here to see it in action: hashtag.org
Follow People in Your Industry
What should you post about? How often should you post? What are topics people are interested in hearing about? The best way to find out for yourself is to start following people in your industry. These could be competitors, customers, industry organizations and associations, industry news channels, and even your clients. Basically, follow anyone that has a strong voice in your market. This way you’ll start to get a real sense of what your market is like and what conventions are in your market. You’ll get a sense for how often others post and what topics people tend to respond to. One of my best tips for finding people to follow is to join a Tweet Chat and follow the participants that add the most value. There are over 400 Tweet Chats – there’s bound to be one for your industry, profession, or niche.
Follow, Be Followed, Post Messages
The best way to learn your way around Twitter is to just use it. Before you start using Twitter on your business account, try using Twitter in your personal account. (It’s a good idea to keep your personal and business tweets separate.) Start following your friends and ask your friends to follow you. Post tweets and watch your friends respond. Respond to your friends’ tweets.
These four basic steps for getting started are the pillars of mastering Twitter. Once you’ve learned how to create topics with hashtags, you’ve learned the various common words and phrases and you’ve learned how to follow, be followed and post messages, you are ready to start building your network. The next step is to just dive in head first and start sharing (and listening) on a regular basis. Consider setting aside 20-25 minutes a day to browse and build your connections.
Learning Twitter isn’t hard, it just takes a bit of basic understanding and a good bit of practice. Be diligent and consistent and before you know it, you’ll be Twitter savvy.
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