Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Getting Started with Twitter



I’ll be honest here. For a long time I didn’t see the benefits of Twitter. After all, I was already on Facebook, and how on earth could you top that? It’s okay to laugh. Really.

If I hadn’t been taking an online class that focused on internet marketing and social media, Twitter would not have interested me in the least. When I finally did begin to see the benefits that Twitter offered, I just couldn’t seem to understand how it worked.

I’ve been on Twitter for just over a year and during that time I’ve discovered what a wonderful resource it can be. When my family was traveling in Atlanta and I was seeking a safe and clean Laundromat, I found the help I needed on Twitter. When I was planning an upcoming trip to NYC, I discovered a few “must see attractions” through my Twitter peeps. I’ve discovered free museum days, discount tickets and been invited to tweetups, all through Twitter.  I guess you could say I’m hooked.

But I have to be honest and tell you that as much as I enjoy it now and even consider Twitter a valuable resource at times, getting started was a bit of a challenge. Today I thought I’d share a few tips that will hopefully make the process of getting started a bit smoother for you. 

Time to Get Started

Getting started with Twitter is a fairly simple process. You sign up, register a user name and you’re ready to tweet. That’s it. Couldn’t get much simpler than that, right? Well, there are a few things to consider.

If you are a blogger or have a business you’d like to promote, your profile name should be something that identifies you or brands you (same as your Facebook Page).

You should also write a short blurb for your profile. This should briefly describe who you are and what you do or what your interests are that fellow Twitter uses can see.  Make sure that you include a link to your blog or website.     

Following People

Next you need to find people to interact with because frankly, Twitter isn’t any fun if you don’t have anyone to talk to.

I started following  people I knew, websites or blogs that I read and branched out from there. If you have a business, you’ll want to follow a diverse group of people so that you are able to get the word out about your business. If you’d like to meet other homeschoolers, you’d naturally follow other homeschoolers.

Normally when you follow people, they follow you back- but I’ll address that later.

How to Tweet

Let’s say that you’d like to send a tweet my way. To do so you’d send your tweet to @travelermom. I guess you could call that my address. I can send a tweet to anyone on Twitter as long as I know their twitter handle.

Your tweets can only have 140 characters and that includes the address, a link if you include it, and the hashtag.

A hashtag is how you identify your tweet. For example, if you want homeschoolers to find your tweet, you would use the hashtag #homeschool, #homeschoolers or #homeschooling.

I may say something like:

It’s time to link-up for Field Trip Friday. #homeschooling #fieldtrips

If someone is interested in homeschooling or field trips, they’d find my tweet by searching for that particular topic, or hashtag.

RT’s (Re-Tweets) make the world of Twitter Go Round

On Twitter you can re-tweet (or RT) info that others have tweeted if you feel it would be relevant to your followers. If someone RT’s your posts it’s nice for you to acknowledge with a simple thank you.

You can also reply to tweets that you think are interesting. It’s important to know that if you want to build up your followers (which means more exposure to you) you don’t always want to self promote- you also need to interact with those that you follow, etc.

You should also tweet with regularity. I check in a couple times a day and even tweeted when on a road trip with my family from my phone. It was fun and I picked up quite a few new followers by sharing tips and pictures from the road.

You can also send Direct Messages but if you do this, make sure they are personalized. People don’t like a canned response, e.g. Thanks for following me, please visit my site at___________. That’s a real pet peeve for many people.

To Follow or Not to Follow

Though many on  Twitter follow the unwritten, “You follow me, I’ll follow back rule,” I don’t necessarily follow everyone. Before I follow anyone I’ll take a look at their profile, read a few tweets and visit their website.

It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes you will run into a spammer or someone that I consider inappropriate. If that happens you can block that person or report them as spam so you don’t have to see what they are posting.   

Staying Organized on Twitter

After you get set up with Twitter there are services like TweetDeck or Hootsuite that help you to stay organized, schedule tweets and see who’s RTing your tweets or responding to you.

A Few Links that I Found Helpful

If you prefer to see how to set up a Twitter account and get started, here is an excellent YouTube clip that will walk you through the process.

Here’s a great introduction to Using Tweetdeck.

If you really want to read about all things Twitter, stop by  AllTwitter, The Unofficial Twitter Resource, where you’ll find out more than you ever wanted to know about Twitter.    

What do you believe the advantages/disadvantages of Twitter are?


  1. love this!  I just started twitter a couple of weeks ago and it's been slow going.  I don't even want you to know how long it took me to figure out what "RT" means.  Thanks for the help in everyday language.

  2. You just started on Twitter a couple weeks ago and already figured out what
    RT means? Wow, you're good. lol Seriously, I didn't catch on quite so fast.
    It was months before I knew that people actually responded to tweets- how
    funny is that? One of my peeps commented that she didn't like having
    one-sided conversations and that prompted me to investigate a bit more. Yep.
    I really was pitiful.

  3. Thanks for this!  I've just started on Twitter too and felt a bit helpless...this post was just what I needed to get started!!

  4. Thank you so much for this.  I have been dabbling in Twitter, but find it very confusing. 

  5. Thanks Alyson! I'm glad you found this information useful. Happy tweeting!


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