Twitter is one of the more challenging social media services to figure out. While anyone can post what they’re doing in 140 characters or less, creating meaningful relationships with other users of the service is a whole different story. About a year ago I was about to give up on Twitter and then I started to figure it out. While I’m not even close to being one of the most popular people on this site, I have figured out how to benefit from using it and I’m made a lot of nice friends in the process. Here are some of the things I’ve learned.
- Interact. Twitter is not just for one-way communication so join in on conversations and talk to people.
- Be nice. Just because you’re hiding behind a picture and an obscure username doesn’t make it right to harass people or insult them. Aside from hurting their feelings, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to make new friends.
- Don’t worry about unfollows. People online can be finicky. You could get unfollowed for something you’ve tweeted, because you haven’t tweeted in a while or for some other random reason. There are millions of people who use Twitter so there’s always someone else out there for you to connect with.
- Quantity doesn’t always mean quality. It’s better to connect with five people that you can develop relationships (business or personal) than 100 people who just ignore your tweets.
- Choose your photo wisely. A picture of you (especially a flattering one) is ideal so people know you’re a real person. People will be more likely to follow you back and interact with you if they can see who you are.
- Don’t be afraid to jump in. If someone tweets something that interests you, comment on it. It doesn’t matter if they’re following you back on not. Just break the ice.
- Beware of spammers. While most people on Twitter are friendly, it does have its share of undesirables. Get to know someone a little bit before disclosing any personal information.
- Where are you? There have been a number of reports of people getting robbed while they’re out at a concert or on vacation because they posted that they’d be away on sites like Twitter or Facebook. Be careful with what you share.
- Google is watching. Your tweets are now searchable on Google (unless you protect them) so if you don’t want the world to see it — don’t tweet it.
- Have fun. Even if you’re on Twitter strictly for business take the time to join in and even be a little goofy at times. People want to see that you’re human.
The cool thing about any social media site is that there are lots of different ways to use it. Depending on your goals, you may find something that works for you but doesn’t work for others, and vice versa.