Every week, I get a phone call or an email from someone who needs a quick tutorial on Twitter. I’m happy to provide it, because it’s a fantastic tool for those who want to expand their online presence. I’ve managed to make it work for my own food blog and clients. NOTE: This is for beginners that want to navigate their way through the Tweetverse. But read it no matter what skill level you’re at. I am always finding something new about this very useful tool.
Are you ready to take some notes? Then let’s go.
- Twitter is just like speed dating. Twitter has built an enormous business based on the following mantra: short messaging is ideal. Compare that to speed dating, how you cut right to the chase. You’ve got 140 characters to impress, then move on. And think of it another way, it’s amazing that anyone can broadcast very valuable information to and from people in your industry with a few sentences. No long drawn out introductions, lines or cheesy sales pitches. A quick scan of a profile, bio, pic and Tweets show you whether or not you’re interested in another entity. You get to find customers, fans, members, readers, leads – whatever you’re looking for to expand your reach.
- Choose a Twitter handle or name that is best for your name/brand. If you have a company name, brand or personal site, or if your brand is your legal name: use it. I’ve got two: @monaeats and @cookthisgetlaid
- Have a complete profile. I won’t follow someone who has the generic “egg” avatar. Most people won’t either. I also won’t follow someone who does not include their location, or omits a short bio. That reeks of shadiness, or even worse: SPAMMERS.
- Tweet something! Make sure that you Tweet a few things before you start following people. Nothing is more annoying than being followed by someone who doesn’t have any content. Show your voice! I want to know who you are and what you’re interested in. Otherwise, you’ll be ignored.
- Twitter is about sharing content. But there are some terms that you need to know. When you create content on Twitter, that’s called a “Tweet.” I mostly Tweet about food, so I share plenty of recipes. As an example, I recently Tweeted: ”Who doesn’t love mushroom risotto?” I added a URL to the actual recipe or my blog page, or sometimes to another food blogger. What makes this so important? Many who follow me on Twitter “Retweet” or share this. And the comment is about risotto, but it also includes my photo and my business name. This is the reason why we’re here folks, to get others to share or “Retweet” our material which promotes us to others. This works for most industries.
- Build your community. In a very short period of time, I’ve built a very solid food community on Twitter. These are people who share food, recipes and valuable information. I even have an offer to come visit a Bed & Breakfast on the island of Santorini and learn how to cook Greek food from a fellow Tweeter! This happened by doing the following: reaching out and following people. In the beginning, this can be a tedious process. And it might seem that you’re following more people that are following you. But keep going. There’s even a feature that helps you find people with related interests. When in Twitter, look for the “Who To Follow” section. Twellow is another great service that helps you find people in your field. And let your Facebook friends know you’re on Twitter.
- Keep the “social” in social media. There are plenty of folks on Twitter who only Tweet their own content. They are not worth your time. I’m not interested in reading a person’s rant, daily activities or pseudo-philosophy, no matter how popular they are. This is social media, emphasis on the SOCIAL. I typically follow back people that are active, return the favor of following and Retweet (RT is the abbreviation). I have one exception: I’ll follow someone who is an “influencer” (see #9 for the definition).
- Use an app. I would recommend using your Smart Phone to manage your Tweets. You can use Twitter’s, but my favorite as of late is Echofon. I use Hootsuite for my clients. Everyone has personal preferences, so just keep trying one out until you find out if it works for you.
- Create a strategy. If you don’t, you can end up going down that online black hole that sucks productive hours out of your day. One of my clients just stated that she wants one million followers on Twitter. Which is possible because of her solid presence in the music industry. But we have to find a thoughtful way to do that. We are creating content as her stage persona, that creates conversation, and also targets people that sizeable online wield influence. In my food community, the best example of a Twitter “influencer” is the NYTimes food writer, Mark Bittman. With over 300,000 followers, he represents the type of Twitter user that has serious authority over food writers, food lovers, journalists and the agricultural industry. If this “influencer” Retweets my content, then I’ll find my profile and information shown to a lot of people. That’s only one strategy of many. I’m emphasizing that you must create a plan.
- Use Lists. At the time of this writing, I am following 3,118 people on Twitter. I’m interested in reading many of their Tweets, but most can get lost in the traffic. So I create lists. If you’re on the Twitter page, click on a person’s profile that you’d like to follow regularly. Look for a drop down icon and select “Add or Remove From Lists.” Think of a name and create a List. These can be private or public. I have a “Potential Client List” which is set to private, “LA Food Lovers,” and “Food Folks,” which are open to anyone who wants to follow them too.
- Do NOT respond to jerks. I’ve learned this the hard way. Online jerks are bullies that hide behind the anonymity that being online provides. In person, bullies are a fearful lot, and typically back down quickly. But online, it’s a different. Some people are out to rattle your tail, and have no interesting contribution to the conversation. It will be challenging, but just let them do their thing. Don’t delete their Tweets (unless they’re harassment), and you can always block them if they get really out of hand. I’ve found that others come to the rescue where the community often does a form of self-policing. And Twitter won’t stand for threats either. And think of it this way, if they’re not saying anything bad about you, then you’re not digging deep enough either.
- Share more than just YOU. I can see right through those types, the ones that clearly have a product to sell. Or they like to talk about themselves, and what they did all day long. And they’re going to Tweet about it morning, noon and night. Unless they have a product that will magically clean my house and massage my feet before bedtime, I’m not interested. You don’t have to talk about just you. Have you ever been around someone whose favorite subject is themselves? It’s boring. Vary things up by talking about the latest news in your industry, and add some humor from a funny page you saw online, or just Retweet.
I love answering questions, so ask away! I’ll keep adding to this list as time goes on. And if you have your own suggestions, let ‘em rip in the comments below.