How to get started on Twitter

I’ve been helping a friend out publicising a blog (www.politicalworldview.com) and obviously, one of the first tools I suggested was twitter. Well, obvious to me. It’s taken this for me to realise, I actually take for granted how much I’ve learnt about promoting and PR through social media. And for someone that hasn’t been taught it before, it can seem very overwhelming. I had an awful lot of help all that time ago with both my personal twitter account and BU Trampolining’s, so I figured the least I could do was put it up here for everyone else to see.

So firstly, the thing you have to know and understand on Twitter, whether it’s for you or a client. It does not happen overnight. You need to build up an audience, which takes time and effort. It’s the age old YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN. I’m ignoring other social media platforms for the moment, because let’s face it, Twitter is better.
  • For a business or brand, do not jump on the bandwagon and think you must have a twitter account because everyone else does. You need to work out if your audience; both consumers and customers use twitter. If they don’t...  it’s all pointless and a waste of your time.
  • Fill out your bio – out of principle, I won’t follow people with no bio, as I have no idea who they are or what they’re likely to tweet about.
  • Find like-minded people on twitter: -
    • Again, another thing I say off the top of my head, expecting people to understand exactly what that is and how to do it.
    • So, as an example, I’m a PR student, so I would search for other PR students, PR agencies, press offices, companies of interest, PR magazines and particular key figures in the industry.
    • You can search in twitter itself, not that this is brilliant if you’re searching for their bio rather than name. – “PR student” as opposed to “Jessica North”
    • You can search in google or other search engines.
    • Check websites of companies, key figures, magazines, blogs etc. Most will have a link to their twitter account. 
    • Search for relevant lists. Use sites like twibes.com or listorious.com
    • When you find someone relevant, search who they follow and their lists
    • FOLLOW ALL THESE PEOPLE
  • Hashtag words... again foreign language to some. Anything that people are also likely to be tweeting about or key words.
    • You can hashtag something by simply putting the #in front of a word.
    • They were created to group similar tweets together
    • You can keep up to date and join in conversations by using these.
  • Tweet pictures and links.. these are the most likely to get retweeted. And yes, that is a good thing. Retweeting will send your profile and that tweet into a foreign audience.
  • Upload a profile picture, and make sure it’s relevant to you or your brand.
  • Any long @ conversations will not encourage someone to follow you, so if the conversation goes past two or more replies, consider making the conversation private unless it is likely to benefit all your followers and potential followers.
  • Use Follow Fridays. #FF
    • Yet again, something I often forget to explain. Each Friday, write a tweet starting #FF and then list the people that you think others should follow. They will often retweet this and/or return the favour.
  • Put links to twitter absolutely everywhere. Your blog, your website, your email signature, facebook, linkedin, business cards, EVERYWHERE.
  • Tweet all the time.. you cannot tweet once a month and expect people to follow you, they will not be interested. It’s recommended that you balance tweets between personal, professional, however remember that if you tweet all the time – yes, spam, or if you tweet about nothing – you will lose followers.
  • Be conversational, engage with others, everytime you do this, your name will appear on their profile, creating the possibility for their followers to see your profile. The easiest way to do this is to ask a question/answer questions.
  • Matter – again, you’re probably thinking ‘what’. You need to get the balance right between personal and interest of others. If you tweet about yourself all day long, chances are people will get bored. You need to offer value to your tweets (information, education, entertainment, news, offers... etc)
  • Tweet in peak times, for most will be business hours and evening.
  • I got told to create my own background, which is easily done on photoshop. I have to say, I notice others with no unique background with high followers but it certainly adds more of a personal touch in my opinion.
  • I’m appalling at doing this as I mostly use twitter on my phone, however you SHOULD send people a message just to thank them for following you. This can start a conversation and ensure they maintain following you.

Again, please remember, it’s not just the number that counts – it’s who is following you. Only people with similar interests will remain following you. Please comment below with any further thoughts you have on building up twitter followers. If you’d like further advice on promoting blogs via Twitter, please see Darren Rowse's advice. 

Jessica North

Author & Editor

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