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How To Start On Twitter

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010

As I look back on all the times I’ve written about Twitter, I realize that I’ve never told anyone how to actually get going there. A big part of me just assumed that most people would figure it out, but when reality sets in and we know that more than 93% of all the people who sign up for it drop out after a month, probably because they really didn’t know what to do, it behooves me to at least try to help out in some fashion. So, for those of you who are on Twitter and know what to do already, this probably isn’t for you.

Of course the first step is to create a Twitter account, but think about this one before you do it. You can go three ways with this, depending on what you want to do. You can use your name or a derivation of your name; you can use your company name; or you can be creative and use whatever hits your fancy. Your reasoning should be sound. Using your name is simple; because that’s who you are. Using your business name is simple as well, but with the caveat that if your business name is long you’ll want to shrink it down drastically. Being creative with your name could be problematic, especially if no one knows who you are because that might affect, at least initially, who will hook up with you.

After that, there’s all sorts of information you can make on your Twitter page, as well as changing backgrounds and the like. Forget all that stuff for now and move to the next important thing, that being to add an image. Almost no one on Twitter wants to connect with someone else that doesn’t have some kind of image on their Twitter page unless they know who you are. It doesn’t even have to be an image of you; it can be pretty much anything, but try to show at least a little bit of class. Many folks gripe about some of the suggestive images on Twitter, but most of those accounts are from spam accounts, and if you don’t want people initially thinking that’s what your account is then shy away from that. If that’s really who you are you can always go back to that later on.

Okay, now you’re ready to tweet to the world; your problem is that no one knows you’re on, and thus no one will see what you have to say. Actually, that’s somewhat inaccurate. Everything you tweet goes into the general stream, and someone is bound to see it eventually. These days, however, most people have already set up who they’re going to follow and possibly certain topics they’re going to look for, and thus you might end up having a small audience of people who might find you. Instead, it’s time to head to the search box to look some people up.

The first thing to do is type in the names of some people you know to see if they’re on Twitter. You’ll be surprised to find that many people you know will be there in some capacity, and some will be pretty active users. When you find someone you know, start following them by clicking on the button that says “follow”; that’s easy enough. Then look through the names of people that they’re following to see if you know anyone else in that group, and you can start following those folks as well. Anyone you follow will get a notification that you’re following them, and if they like you they’ll probably follow you back. This is a great way to get started.

But don’t get too carried away with adding people. Twitter gets very protective of its people if someone is adding lots of people but hasn’t said anything yet. That’s your next step, saying something. There’s two ways you can do this. You can go to your main Twitter page and type something in that little space, remembering you only have 140 characters (it’ll count for you so you don’t have to do it).

Or you can send a message to one of the people you’re now following. The way you do that is to click on the widget looking thing, then select the top one that says “mention ____”. That will open up a window with that person’s Twitter name preceded by the “@” sign. Just type your message and hit ‘tweet’ and you’re on your way. Don’t just say “hi” and leave it at that; it’s your introduction, so make it stand out, even if it’s only “Hi ____, I’m finally on Twitter; I hope you’re doing well.” Okay, that’s a bit formal, but at least you’ll have said something.

And there you go; you’re now on Twitter and you’re ready to go. Of course, your issue will be having to constantly come back to this Twitter page to see lots of messages, so at some point you’ll find the smart move is to use some sort of application to access Twitter easier. But that’s for another day, or you can look back through this blog at some things I’ve mentioned in the past. And of course don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter; just click on that little blue bird to the right.

I hope this little tutorial gets you started easily enough; if not, ask me to clarify and I will. Good luck!


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20 Comments »

A great guide for beginners first getting into Twitter. This is the perfect first step for getting started.

Twitter can be kind of confusing at first, but once users understand how to use Twitter correctly everything comes together nicely.

It would be interesting to hear some of your thoughts on the next steps to using Twitter, like choosing the right Twitter application for your needs, posting techniques/plans, Twitter etiquette, and some things that you shouldn’t do on Twitter.

September 7th, 2010 | 2:05 PM
Mitch:

Keith, I’ve already written all of those posts on this blog; that’s why I found it funny that I hadn’t written this one yet. lol If you want to track back to see some of the Twitter topics I’ve discussed, swing to the right over there and at the bottom of the column you’ll see my tag cloud. Find Twitter and then go for it; you’ll probably be driven crazy. One of these days I might have to make it its own page like I’ve done for other topics.

September 7th, 2010 | 4:40 PM
Rose:

A straight forward tut on using Twitter. Well done! Perhaps at some time you could put all your posts together and create a guide.

September 7th, 2010 | 6:27 PM
Mitch:

Thanks Rose. It could happen as a page, but I’ll have to find the time for it, as I think I have at least 40 articles on the topic.

September 7th, 2010 | 6:40 PM
Patricia:

Great post for those starting out with Twitter. I found it confusing at first but kept being told it was important to have a presence on there. I now love tweeting and see it’s importance for my blog and eventual business venture. Do you do anything in those articles about how I can get my background to look like my blog….hopefully not too complicated 🙂
Patricia Perth Australia

September 8th, 2010 | 12:48 AM
Mitch:

Patricia (can I call you Pat?), I don’t have anything on that because I don’t go to the Twitter page except to check out new folks, and if you visited my page I just threw up a picture. I know there’s some folks who say you should set it up to look like your business et al, but I figure that since I use something else for Twitter communications I just haven’t cared all that much.

However, if I were to do it, I might think to just get a screen capture or something; I might have to think about it some more.

September 8th, 2010 | 1:45 AM

Great easy to get started post!

September 8th, 2010 | 7:41 AM
Mitch:

Thanks Carolee; I hope it helps some folks.

September 8th, 2010 | 9:18 PM

This is a great post about how to start with twitter! Also if you want to get notice retweeting someone else interesting posts can help and with a little search on Google you can find Twitter directories (yeah twitter directories do exist) where you can submit your tweeter username to the directory under a specific category, and if you tweet ofter you can get on that directory front page thus giving you more exposure!
Anyway for beginners that’s enough.
Btw, your comment box is pretty small I cant really see how i formatted my comment:)

September 8th, 2010 | 1:29 PM
Mitch:

You know, I’ve had this blog almost 3 years and that’s the first time someone’s talked about the comment box. I’ve never paid attention to it, since I don’t have to use it.

Your other points are right on target, but we have to make sure folks at least have some folks following them before they to that route, otherwise no one will see it. 🙂

September 8th, 2010 | 9:36 PM
Carl:

Good guide Mitch, but Twitter have never really worked for me and never convert even a single sale for my business. I guess I am in tough market and this is the main reason. I have read so many books and articles how to improve website interaction with twitter, but nothing.

September 9th, 2010 | 4:57 AM
Mitch:

Twitter’s not an immediate sale thing, Carl. It’s one of those things where it takes a while to establish relationships with people before they’ll trust you. It’s also one of those things where, if you want to try to get known locally, it can work wonders.

September 9th, 2010 | 8:34 AM

Great guide, I just joined Twitter myself, and I do find it to be quite confusing, so this really helps!

September 17th, 2010 | 11:55 AM
Mitch:

Glad to help out; good luck with it all.

September 17th, 2010 | 2:22 PM

Thanks for pointing me over here, Mitch. Now I’m off to the tag cloud (oh… so that’s what a tag cloud is supposed to do) to continue the journey I’m sure by the time i’m done (next week sometime) I’ll be a Tritter Ninja. Mmm… maybe not, but at least I’ll know what “#goober6” means.

November 23rd, 2010 | 3:37 PM
Mitch:

You’re killing me, Allan! Glad to help. 🙂

November 23rd, 2010 | 4:00 PM

No worries… I’m CPR certified. 😉

As long as we’re sort of on the topic; the tag cloud widget in *my* wordpress set-up is not nearly so mesmerizing as yours. Is your’s something special or is my theme’s CSS just throwing a wrench in the works again? I’m getting static text in a variety of sizes.

November 23rd, 2010 | 4:09 PM
Mitch:

Allan, it’s actually a plugin called WP Cumulus; that could explain things. lol

November 23rd, 2010 | 4:42 PM

Thank you kindly, I’ll go look for it.

November 23rd, 2010 | 5:13 PM
Chris:

Just wanted to say thank you. Excellent tutorial. You saved me a heck of a lot of hair pulling! Thanks.

January 15th, 2011 | 6:55 PM