Twitter Tips: Getting Started

Mar 2011
Photo credit: @goofoogoofoo
Photo credit: @goofoogoofoo

Before I started using Twitter, I was always a little intimidated by it.  Whenever I would look at tweets, I would sort of think to myself, how would anyone find that useful?  Or furthermore, that tweet doesn’t make much sense at all!  However, when I took the dive and started using Twitter, I realized that I was missing a big piece of the Twitter puzzle.

What I was missing was not how to use the ‘@’ symbol, or why there was a number sign before certain words.  I wasn’t confused because some words were shortened, or even that these quick sentences were often grammatically incorrect.  No, what I was missing, was WHO the person was that was sending the tweet, and WHAT they did.  Simply put, context.

If you’re new to Twitter, or just don’t understand it, the best thing that you can do is to start following a large number of people who have the same interests as you, or who tweet about things you want to learn about.  An easy and simple way to do that is to search hashtags.

If you’re not familiar, a hashtag is what I referred to earlier as a number sign: ‘#’.  Tweeters will often hashtag a word that references the topic of the tweet they are writing.  For example, when I tweet about this blog, I will probably say something like this: “My latest blog post: ‘Twitter Tips’  #socialmedia #twitter”So, if you were to do a twitter search on #socialmedia, my tweet would show up in there.  And, if you were trying to learn more about social media, you could find anyone who has used that hashtag, and follow them to see their tweets in your feed as well.

This works in the opposite way as well.  If you are trying to get more followers or trying to reach out to different people in certain topics, using a hashtag is a great way to do that.  For example, if I were starting my own wine label and wanted to build some recognition, I would probably start regularly tweeting such hashtags as #wine and #winemaking.  You get the idea.

Following people in your area of interest or expertise is a great way to get into twitter.  You will get a good context for where those 140 character messages are coming from.  But you can’t stop there.  Engage with those people as well: read their tweets, click on their links, retweet them, and  respond to them!  I think you will like the results.

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