“I just don’t get it.”
“I don’t care what someone had for lunch.”
“Twitter is stupid.”
Twitter can be mystifying to the uninitiated user. If they’re not a marketer, business owner or blogger, Twitter may just be a way to get celebrity updates and converse with friends. The non-social-media-savvy user will typically join Twitter because they keep hearing about it and they feel like “everyone else is on it.” They’ll follow a few famous people and random real world or Facebook friends. They’ll sporadically post mundane updates for a short time, with no real engagement—just broadcasting to their audience. Then they get bored and quit because nothing interesting is going on. There are many thousands of these inactive Twitter accounts, with minimal posts and no current activity.
Are you like this—ready to quit because you don’t “get” Twitter? Do you know someone like this, to whom you’ve tried to explain what exactly the fuss is all about?
I started out exactly like this. I wanted to be involved in Twitter just because I knew it was somehow the next big thing in social media. I didn’t really get it, and for a while, I barely posted anything. Then, I learned the one thing that opened my eyes to the immense value of Twitter. If there is one single thing that will make a newbie “get” Twitter instantly, it’s this:
1. You have to have a reason to use Twitter.
It helps to have a goal in mind when you start to use Twitter. Are you trying to market something, build a network around a brand, promote your blog? Regardless of what Twitter’s tagline says, it’s not just for getting short, timely updates from your friends. In fact, the word “updates” is kind of misleading. It makes you think of the update section of Facebook. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but no one really cares what you’re having for dinner, or what movie you’re watching. They may comment, but only because they want you to comment back when they post what they’re eating for dinner. There’s a weird kind of voyeurism going on between these types of users. What first really got me into Twitter was tinkering with my Droid X. I was learning about rooting (which is kind of like jailbreaking an iPhone, only cooler), ROMing (putting a custom operating system on your device) and theming (giving your phone a custom appearance). A lot of the latest info was posted by developers and hackers on Twitter. I started following those people and mentioning them in my tweets. They would respond and it was then that I really “got” Twitter. Information that would later show up on forums and Facebook had already been discussed on Twitter. Your thing might be sewing, or dog washing, or bodybuilding or cartooning. Start a free blog and get involved in the community of sharing that already exists around your passion. Building a network of like-minded people and sharing information with them in real-time is the purpose of Twitter.
2. You have to follow and interact with interesting people.
If you’re following the wrong people (see my post here) your timeline will be cluttered, noisy and annoying. It can easily discourage you from getting engaged on Twitter. See who is active in the discussions you want to take part in. Engage with them by mentioning them in your tweets. Read blogs that are relevant to your interests, comment on them and follow those people on Twitter. Soon you’ll build a valuable network of people who are well-suited to provide you with helpful information.
3. You have to be active.
Facebook is great for scrolling through and seeing what happened earlier in the day, yesterday or even earlier in the week. Twitter is the real-time sharing of social media. With Twitter, things move fast. It’s what’s happening right now. Things that were discussed even an hour ago can be old news. If you are away for long periods, your network will move on and you’ll become less in touch with what’s going on in your industry or area of interest. Keep up with a large network by creating lists and grouping the people you follow into them. You can view each list as you have time. Mark favorites to go back and read at your leisure. This way you keep informed on the most cutting-edge trends in your industry. If Facebook is this week, Twitter is today.
There’s a lot more to Twitter than this. But these three key steps will open the door and get you well on the way to being a Twitter guru. What was your experience the first time you “got” Twitter? Any steps or key things to keep in mind that you would include?
picture credit: Sparkey Davis