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Twitter – Beginners’ guide

March 29, 2009
My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...
Image by luc legay via Flickr

I’m going to be 39 years old. When I was 19, I was a whiz at computers. I wrote programs in C language that manipulated the hardware, that bypassed MS-DOS (Duh! what’s that?) but over time I got into other lines of work. Lost touch with cutting edge technology.

Last week I re-started my journey into the world of Social media, with a vengeance. And it has been disarmingly easy. I have found support, help, knowledge everywhere. Tools, tips, advice are abundant.

To help make the journey easier for others. I thought I’d put together a note, on what worked for me. So here goes.

Twit was a term I first read in the writing of P G Wodehouse. He often described bumbling idiots as Twits..Never thought that one day I would be Twittering…and happy about it! I also realize now that it’s called Tweeting!

I remember I was attending a workshop run by Janelle Barlow, and she mentioned Twitter. I made a scribble somewhere on the corner of a page. Saw it a few days later, signed up. Didn’t understand a damn thing. And forgot all about it.

And then bumped into Gautam Ghosh, who’s always been my Tech guru and connector to all things HR/OD. http://gautamghosh.net

Got back onto Twitter with a vengeance. And the moment I focussed on it, I found ways to use it. Connected with like minded people and that made all the difference.

I found that there are many resources around, and like all other communities online, everyone was willing to help.

While I have read a lot of notes about what to do on twitter, I thought I would put together a note on HOW to go about doing all of the stuff you’re advised to do. How to leverage Twitter. How to make the most of it, personally and professionally.

I’ve tried to structure this like an FAQ from here on. So if you’re bored with all the text that came before, you can sigh with relief and read on..

Why should I be on Twitter?

If you’re a professional in any field, you should be. Search on Twitter for anything – HR, Sales, Marketing, Logistics, Web design etc. and you will find fellow professionals from all over the world who’re on here.

Similarly, if you have a hobby – kite making/flying, music, blogging, scifi etc. you will find people who’re at the cutting edge of any of these, and more.

But I already get that on Orkut, Facebook, Ryze etc… So why should I? Because Twitter is different. Try.

I’m on Twitter. Now What?

Now populate your profile. Fill in all the details. Make it interesting. Feel free to edit as often as you want. In the first few days, I edited my profile quite often. Everytime I read a new profile and got inspired I made changes.

The more interesting your profile, the more people will connect with you.

Here’s a link to a brilliant note on the 7 mistakes all new Twitter users make.  http://bit.ly/kdMa

Some pages are snazzy how do I do mine up?

Visit www.twitbacks.com to design your twitter page and make it customised. It’s easy.

What do I tweet?

Tweets are the updates you put up on Twitter.

The box prompts you with “What are you doing?”, you can take that literally and enter what you’re doing. And other people who’re searching for similar terms might connect with you. You can equally write what you’re thinking, or what you’re considering, or what you’re inspired by, because any of those will have the power to connect with what others are thinking, considering or inspired by.

In the early days, experiment. Most Social Media spaces are forgiving, unless you’re really out of line and are insulting/abusing people or policies or ethics.

Read other people’s tweets, see how people connect and relate.

Visit others’ profiles. Experience how they relate.

Learn. Replicate.

Whenever I come across an interesting profile/bio, I make it a point to go through that person’s tweets. When I find a connect to something they have said, I make a follow request.

It’s like walking into a party where you don’t know many people. For some time, you listen,observe, absorb. And then you find people with whom you seem to connect. You relate to the topics which you like and join discussions. You’re a little tentative till you find your way, and then you find your way to comfort. And by the end of the party you have a few new friends, plus you’ve learned some new things, exchanged some interesting opinions, discovered insights and had a good time. You feel like returning to the party and connecting with some of those people too!

How do I connect with others?

Good question. I had no guidance about this. And so I am going to try to share as much as I can about this one, here.

On Twitter, you follow people. And other people follow you.

So how do you choose who to follow?

5 ways that I have found so far, that help you search. Search for like minded people.

1. Twitter search – Right at the bottom of your Twitter page are some HTML tags. Search is one of them. Alternatively, you can enter the URL search.twitter.com into your browser, and search for topics that are of interest to you. You will see a list of people who’re Tweeting about that subject. Visit their profiles, follow the ones that interest you.

2. Find people – This is a link you will see on your Twitter page. Upper right hand corner. Find people by entering names, email ids, nicknames.

3. We Follow – http://wefollow.com is a site that will give you access to different lists/tags under which people are listed. Search by tag to get a list of people who’ve registered that interest. Once again, follow the ones you like.

4. Twitter Grader – This tool helps you grade your Twitter profile against others, BUT it also performs another function, when it shows you your grade, you will see an option that allows you to see others in the same city are yours. Click on this link to get a link. More people to follow! http://twitter.grader.com/

5. Followers of others. When you visit anyone who you have found interesting. Spend some time, going through people who they follow or are followed by. Stands to reason they will have a similar circle. Check out profiles. Follow.

6. Those of you who’re reading this, I follow SciFi, Change practitioners, Social Media, Music, Film, Coaching. So go ahead, check out my following list, and follow some of those wonderful folk!

7. Just added – 10 ways to search for people on Twitter – http://mashable.com/2009/07/02/twitter-people/

The more you follow, the higher your chances to be followed. However, the caveat once again – Be selective. Don’t be competitive about having a HIGH number of followers. You will regret this later! Build your community with care.

You can add yourself to wefollow, and list your interests, this will make it easier for you to be found/followed by others. REMEMBER though, you can only list yourself in 3, and not more. Don’t ask me why.

Here’s a new one! TweetTop – which lists the top Tweeters in each category. Awesome! http://tinyurl.com/ct88zj

How do I get people to follow me?

Simplest way is to invite your friends/colleagues/partners to Twitter. Beyond that, is the journey.

Other than this, you don’t GET people to follow you.

You have to be interesting. Your tweets need to have meaning to people. A good morning and a good night, or what you ate for lunch will not sustain interest for long.

Give. More than anything else, this is the one thing that will net you the most interest from others. Information, research, a great website, a great blog, an interesting profile on twitter, anything else of value. Put it on Twitter. When people see you adding value, they will want to be connected to you.

Etiquette. Be polite. Thank people for kindnesses and support. If you like what someone has Tweeted, share it with your followers as a ReTweet. How do you do this? Type RT followed by a cut and paste of the original tweet, include the original Tweeter’s name prefixed with an @sign. Since the time I wrote this, Twitter has evolved and now comes with a Retweet option built-in.

Example- RT @steve1 Here’s the latest review of the Tech industry by McKinsey

More than anything else, don’t spam. Don’t intrude. Don’t bug. Be polite.

There is an etiquette on Twitter. Most people who you follow will follow you back. This doesn’t mean you should go out following a million people. Be choosy right at the beginning. Choose the right people to follow and you will build a far more relevant and congurnet community. This is like friendship. You choose your circle carefully.

Twitter on my handheld?

There are a few clients you can use. TinyTwitter. Fring. Are options, and there are many others. I have used both, TinyTwitter and Fring. TinyTwitter is better. Google them. Find the download site. Get them down! It’s easier than using Twitter via SMS.

Just downloaded the trial version of Gravity. AWESOME client for mobile. The BEST. Here is where you’ll find it:

http://mobileways.de/products/gravity/gravity/

I can’t believe it was last Saturday, 8 days ago, that I setup this blog. That I got back onto Twitter. It has been an amazing journey so far. And I am looking forward to more. This is still infancy. But hey, if I can. So can you. Come join the movement!

Addendum –

Top 21 Twitter apps – http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/19/the-top-20-twitter-applications/

Top 10 Twitter Apps – http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/top_10_twitter_apps.php

Top MUST HAVE Twitter Apps – http://kristakopetsky.com/http:/kristakopetsky.com/2009/04/16/top-twitter-apps/

Happy discovering!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. MAHA permalink
    May 3, 2012 9:29 pm

    Thanks JoY ! To think that you said this in 2009 and I am trying to figure twitter in 2012 ..hahah – – i am a twit for sure (LOL) – maha

  2. July 24, 2010 1:50 am

    I was not a fan of Twitter now i am feeling comfortable with info..

    Thanks..

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      July 25, 2010 1:29 am

      I’m happy to hear that, Santosh! Always happy to help!

  3. July 4, 2009 12:32 pm

    Welcome to the professional tech reviews site.The motive

    of this site (www.protechreviews.com) is to provide you

    with the latest happenings prevailing all around the

    world in the world of technology.I myself have been in

    this field for more than 15 years and want to make

    people feel the POWER of technology.

  4. mohinish sinha permalink
    June 8, 2009 8:44 pm

    Shukran pal.. this has indeed speeded up my learning !!

  5. April 2, 2009 12:20 pm

    great stuff joyji 🙂

    added it to the mthr global linkedin community

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      April 2, 2009 3:38 pm

      Thanks Vipul, appreciate it!

  6. gurprrietsiingh permalink*
    March 30, 2009 12:33 am

    You are too kind, Gautam. Thanks!

  7. March 30, 2009 12:18 am

    Amazingly well put!

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