I will assume that most people using Twitter know the basic stuff about how it works, so I’m not going to bore you with definitions of Twitter handles, mentions, hashtags, etc.
When I started out on Twitter I was naive, not because I’m naive by nature, simply because Twitter creates a fake sense of being close to everyone who bothers to tweet. Now, almost 900 followers later I wish I’d avoided some of the mistakes.
1. Have a fully fleshed-out profile. It’s amazing how many people don’t bother with the profile at all. You are given 160 characters – use them! Having lots of hobbies makes you sound like an interesting person and that is bound to win you followers.
2. Use humour with caution. Especially in your profile, as people’s sense of what’s funny and their ability to grasp jokes varies. If your profile states that you are ‘slightly crazy’ most people won’t think it’s a joke.
3. Do not discount yourself. Do not say things like ‘I’m just a nobody’ or ‘a taxi driver to my two teenage kids’ in your profile unless you want to attract a lot of boring moaners who think of themselves as nobodys.
4. The first hundred is the hardest. If you don’t have a job it’s almost impossible to get one, if you aren’t going out with anybody… you know the rest. Same is true of Twitter: if you don’t have many followers it’s extremely hard to get them. Unless of course you personally know a lot of people. Try following organizations and businesses, they are a lot less nervous and therefore more likely to follow you. If you are a classical music lover check out concert halls, classical music radio stations and opera companies. As a listener or a customer you are valuable to them, so they are more likely to follow you back.
5. Do not be a broadcaster or an annoying sales person. People often wonder what the value of being on social media is. Engagement is the most obvious answer. Yet a lot of people are out there ‘broadcasting’ their message without paying any attention to their followers or worse - they try to aggressively sell you their product or service and if you politely decline they lost interest in you. By all means cry your wares, but find the right balance: perhaps limit shameless plugging to 20-30% of your tweets and dedicate the rest to listening, interacting and engaging in conversations. Try and see what works for you.
6. Never meet your heroes. By all means follow personalities and celebrities of all sorts if you wish, but prepare to be disappointed. After a while you may discover that the person you always admired is stupid, boring, passionately self-obsessed, bigoted, ultra conservative, insecure and profoundly fake, so that you end up losing all interest in their output (which is probably good for your bank account).
7. Response means nothing. You may be lucky not to be disappointed, still, bear in mind that celebrities (both real and self-appointed) and other extremely busy people will most probably ignore your mentions and tweets no matter what you do. If you have a lot of followers (or if your profile states you are a journalist) they may acknowledge you, because an annoyed person with a huge following can be dangerous. Don’t insult anybody hoping to attract their attention though – the only person whose attention you are going to attract is their lawyer. In any case a response is not an invitation to stalk.
8. Do not chase the unwilling. There are plenty of people on social platforms who are real experts in their fields. Seek them out, ask for their advice – many will connect with you and will engage in conversations. There are plenty of brands dying to hear from you as well, you can check out your favourite ones and see if they truly value your business.
9. Forget about content marketing. The unbearable pressure to keep churning out content that is in-depth, original, unique and authoritative is felt by everyone these days. After all tweets are also content. But as Ecclesiastes puts it: ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. If there was nothing knew then, how can we hope to add something new to the mountain of information and knowledge that already exists today? The only original and unique thing about your content is your viewpoint and experience. (image credit technorati.com)