2011 was a year of many notable occurrences, but for me one of the highlights was the discovery of Twitter. I had of course heard about Twitter before but in 2011, I really got to see how powerful and useful it was.
For me, I am an information junkie, so it proved to be incredibly useful in keeping up to date in my areas of interest (and there are many!). I also enjoy passing on information to others, so being able to send information to lots of people at once, either from me directly or by passing on someone else’s information via a retweet, was really satisfying. Some people find the 140 character limit frustrating; but in my experience that is the beauty of Twitter – I find it helps you to get to the point quickly in your tweets and you see very quickly what someone else has to say in their tweets. I’ve enjoyed exploring it and have developed some tips along the way.
Top twitter tips:
- If you haven’t set up an account already, decide on a good Twitter account name (do put some thought into it as you don’t want to build up an account only to have to change it once it is no longer relevant, for example, should the account be in your name, your company’s name or a combination of both?) and set up your account.
- Don’t feel you have to send tweets as soon as you set up an account. It’s better to observe how Twitter works first as it’s quite a new communication medium and a lot of the etiquette rules are unwritten.
- Look up at people you admire on Twitter and watch how they use their accounts. They don’t even have to be in the same professional field as you, for example, some sports people use their accounts in very interesting ways. I’d probably avoid the celebrities accounts as examples!!
- With the people you admire on Twitter, also check out their list of followers as that will give you some starter lists of people you may wish to follow also.
- Twitter in itself can be hard to use to absorb all the information, so most people use an application, such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, to organise their tweets and the information coming in via Twitter. These are free to download to both computers and smart phones and they make it easier to work with Twitter.
- Set up a mentions stream as soon as possible; this will let you know when someone mentions you in a tweet. You should ensure you tweet an appropriate response, e.g. a thank you for a retweet or a follow up if someone has a complaint about you or your business.
- Follow hashtags for your areas of interest to keep up to date, e.g. in Ireland, #SMECommunity is a great hashtag to follow for SME owner managers and employees both for relevant information and support.
- Set up hashtags for events, projects and training programmes that your running. This involves a simple search for the hashtag you suggest (keep it short to avoid using up lots of characters) and then asking everyone to adopt that for related tweets. For example, I used #dcudb for a Digital Business course I lectured on in DCU.
- If you attend events, find out the hashtag for the event, e.g. a conference, and ask is it OK to tweet during an event. As this is still quite a new approach, you may have to suggest a hashtag to the event organiser.
- Keep your tweets professional, is it not a myth that people tweet what they had for breakfast!
- Keep a balance between information tweets and promotional tweets. People will unfollow you if they feel spammed with lots of promotional tweets about your products and/or services.
- Watch out for spam tweets – do not click on any links in tweets offering free iphones, McDonald’s gift cards, etc. If it looks too good to be true, then it is! Block and report these Twitter users.
– Geraldine Lavin.