Three steps to getting started in Twitter

by Kelli Brown on November 3, 2009

Social Media 1-2-3kellithumbThe social media world is still abuzz about Twitter. How can simple 140-character messages help you to inform and interact with your target market?

Here are three steps to get you going with this potentially powerful marketing tool:

Step One: Create your account: It might seem obvious, but you’re going to need a Twitter account (and possibly more than one – even if you plan on tweeting from only one). Head over to Twitter.com and get started. When possible, use your real name as your Twitter handle (the @username part). Then add your real name so that others can find you easily. Use a password that’s tough to break and an email address you check frequently.

It’s a good idea to let Twitter check if your friends are already online by comparing your email contacts. You can also check in with other folks you’re connected to in social networks. It’s your choice whether or not to follow the celebs that Twitter suggests, but might help you get a start following some folks that tweet regularly. Once you’re finished registering your account, it’s time to finish editing your settings.

Click the Settings link. Inside settings, you have six tabs:

  • Account
  • Password
  • Mobile
  • Notices
  • Picture
  • Design

We’re going to edit your account, picture and design. When you get some free time down the road, it would be good for you to check out the others as well.

Under account, check the information and update your time zone (unless you are in Greenland). Add the web address to your site or blog. Add your location and language. For your bio, try to write a short and witty synopsis of you, what you tweet, what you do and why someone might be interested in you. It’s social media, so it’s okay for your bio to be creative – remember, you’re trying to connect with other real people. When you’re finished, click save.

Under picture, we’ll upload a small snapshot of you so people know who’s tweeting. Try and pick a tightly cropped shot since you’ve got a small window to fill. And despite how cute they are, use your picture – not your kids, your pets, or your cartoon avatar. We want to see you. When you’ve added your photo, click save.

Under design, it’s time to get creative. Your best bet is to create a custom background using of the many tools available on the Web. Make sure your background has your Web address – Twitter is even more successful when it’s used as a tool to get people back to your home base on the Web. When you’re finished making changes, click save.

Step Two: Connect with others: Now you’re ready to get going. You can fire off a few introductory tweets, but you might want to try and make a few connections first. Start by finding folks that you know are on Twitter – allowing Twitter to compare your email contacts and other networks is a great way to start. Look for any friends you know are using Twitter. When you find someone, click Follow to begin seeing their tweets in your Twitter stream.

Search for other contacts by using the search field on the right side of your Twitter site, looking for keywords that interest you. Take a spin through the trending topics and see if any tweets jump out at you.

When you’ve got a handful of folks you’re following, see who they’re following and who else is following them – chances are higher that they’re legit (meaning they’re not spammers) and that they may share some similar interests with you.

Tip: Don’t be surprised if you have some followers before you have sent out any tweets. Some might be spammers – if so, you’ll want to block them and report them to Twitter – but others might have found something of interest in your bio, your location, or might have matched their own email contacts with your address.

Step Three: Share great content: Why would someone want to follow you in Twitter? Because you provide a resource, a wealth of information that interests them and that they can share with others. The absolute bare minimum should be a 50/50 balance in content. Half of the time, you need to share content that is useful but in no way self-promotes or references your marketing interests. Half of the time, you can gently lead your audience into articles, posts, or other links that cast you in a favorable light. Anything more heavy handed quickly becomes, to borrow a term from Chris Brogan, social media’s version of carpet bombing. Become the go-to person on the Web for all information in your focus area – whether it’s thought leadership within your industry or reasoned commentary on news events of a particular bent – and you will get followers who appreciate your work, share your links and are eager to interact.

We’d love your feedback on our new series – Social Media 1-2-3 – here on the blog at Pixel/Point Press. Don’t miss last week’s article on drafting a social media strategy. And come back next week when we look at three common Twitter terms explained: retweets, DMs and hashtags.

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