Twitter! What is it good for?
After all, who really cares about what I am eating for lunch?
Why would I bother with ANOTHER social media network?
I can’t keep all my current social profiles up-to-date, why should I add another one?
Do I actually have something new to share with a whole different audience?
I get it! Lots of businesses and professionals wonder why they need Twitter if they are already on Facebook or LinkedIn. They brush it aside on account of not having enough time, no interest, or not believing that it is relevant to them.
And….it might not be!
It might not be worth your time to build up an audience on Twitter. Maybe it isn’t even worth creating content specifically for the social network, but I’m here to say that Twitter can still be VERY useful for you and your business.
Let’s see how, and then, how we can get you set up!
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. This means that it is used to make short and frequent posts. Users share 140 characters worth of their thoughts, news, jokes and information with their followers.
It is a way to communicate and stay connected through messages that can contain photos, videos and links.
Unlike Facebook, following someone does not mean that you have to be friends before, it just means that you are interested in what that person has to say or share.
There is an obscene amount of content posted on Twitter. It is estimated that there are 500 million tweets on the network each day. This means that each tweet has a very short shelf-life.
According to The Moz Blog, the average shelf life of a tweet is only 18 minutes, which means in order to get noticed on the network you HAVE to post frequently.
What In The World Is A RT?
If you are brand new to the network then there are a few key terms you are going to need to become familiar with.
Chances are you have heard at least some of these, as some are now synonymous with pop culture.
Twitter – The name of the social network.
Tweet – The 140 character messages that make up your feed.
Retweet (RT) – The act of re-sharing someone else’s tweet.
Twitter Handle – Your username.
Mention (@) – A way to reference or contact another Twitter user by his username (i.e. @CalebCousens). Users are always notified when they are mentioned.
Direct Message (DM) – A private message that you can send to another user or group of users. The 140 character limit remains.
Hashtag (#) – Any word or phrase preceded by the “#” symbol are called hashtags. When you click on a hashtag, you will see all the other Tweets containing the same keyword or topic.
That should hold you for now, but if you find a term you aren’t familiar with, feel free to hit me up in the comments section or check out Twitter’s online glossary.
This question depends on your goals. Are you running a small business? Maybe you are a social media manager, or perhaps just someone just wondering whether they should expand their social presence.
From a more personal perspective, I have been on Twitter since 2008. At times it was to promote a blog or a personal project, but usually it is just a way to stay on top of what is happening in the world.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
If it is newsworthy, then most often it is reported on Twitter first! Whether you are interested in sports, politics, technology, business, or world news, you get up to the minute updates and analysis.
Even only for the social listening function, Twitter is absolutely worth it. You can follow the celebrities, news personalities, and bloggers who you are interested in and then you have a personalized news feed. All of the major news networks have Twitter accounts as well, so you never really need another source of news.
From a business and professional standpoint, social listening via Twitter can be even more important. Chances are your competitors are already on Twitter. Keeping an eye on your industry and competition is an important part of running any business.
But Twitter also provides something that most social media networks do not. You can follow, and then connect, with anybody!
If you are a beginner blogger, Twitter allows you to connect directly with the world’s top bloggers. You can ask questions, start conversations and build relationships with anyone if you put your mind to it. You can connect to experts within your industry and even put your product in front of people who would never see it otherwise.
To give you an example, a few years ago I was a bright-eyed Canadian soccer blogger who was still in university. I used Twitter to connect to some of the top soccer journalists in Europe, building relationships to the point where we exchanged emails.
These relationships paid off in the form of authority; people saw and knew that I was corresponding with the journalists regularly. I even got RT’s and recommendations of my content.
And of course, Twitter provides you with another channel to share your content; a new audience that you can drive back to your website and convert into customers. Although I would say the networking and social listening reasons stated above are more important, you cannot discount the power of Twitter to start conversations and build communities around your brand.
Optimizing Your Profile
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what Twitter is and why you should use it. It’s time to create a profile that you can be proud of and that makes people want to follow you or your business.
There are four critical, outward-facing parts to your profile, all of which have a major impact on whether people will decide to follow you or not. They are: username, bio, images and followers.
How Will You Be Remembered?
Your username is the most public facing part of your profile. I would suggest using your real name or your brand name. Using your real name is important because people will trust your account more and you will seem more genuine.
You are not stuck with this name forever and you can change it at any time if the need arises.
Your bio will be displayed right under your username. It is searchable within the Twittersphere. This means you need to think about what keywords you would like to use. It will also show up in search engine results for your name or business, so make sure it reflects you or your business accurately.
Your challenge is communicating what you or your business is about in just 160 characters. You need to find a way to be different, include keywords and describe yourself.
I would recommend doing some research first. Find examples of bios you like and then use them as a template to craft your own!
Please, please, please make sure you check your bio – and all your tweets for that matter – for grammar, you have no idea how unprofessional one or two mistakes in 160 or 140 characters can look!
A Picture Tells 1,000 Words
You might have only 160 characters and a username to convey all of your awesomeness to Twitter, but that is why the images you use are so important.
The images connected to your profile have the chance to really attract attention and get people to notice.
You need to remove that default egg profile picture as soon as humanly possible. You have two photo spots to fill for starters, your profile picture and your header photo.
Size is 400×400 pixels (make sure it is a high resolution image).
If you are creating a personal account, using a headshot or picture of yourself is recommended for the same reason I suggest using your real name as your username. It is all about transparency and trust, and people are more likely to follow a face rather than some random picture or avatar.
If you are creating an account for business, than the profile photo is the perfect place to show off your logo.
Size is 1500×500 pixels.
Your header photo gives you some flexibility. If you are a business you can highlight a product, give them a behind-the-scenes look at your office, or you could even host a contest for a user-driven header image.
If it is for personal use you can highlight a graphic you created, share a photo you took, or just upload a favorite image which conveys your interests or personality.
One of my favorite tools that I use for all the images I post via social media is: Canva.com. They have templates for every social network as well as some great (and free) stock images. You always have the option of using your own images too!
First thing’s first, follow the people you know! For a business, this could mean your employees (who are likely to retweet your content to their own networks), board members, customers and other stakeholders.
Next, you should follow industry experts, and maybe competing brands. Check to see which accounts other people and businesses in your industry are following and that will give you a good idea of who else you can add.
If you have a personal account then adding friends and family is the logical first place to start. Much like for businesses, checking out who your network follows is a good place to find accounts that you might not think to follow otherwise.
Follow your favorite celebrities or athletes. Chances are they are on Twitter. Begin to create your own custom newsfeed that covers all of your interests and needs.
You can always use Twitter’s suggestions feature to find accounts that you haven’t followed yet, but do this after you are a bit more established, as then Twitter will have a better idea of which accounts to suggest.
Now it’s time to lean in and listen. Observe and learn from others in your network about how to do it. You might jump in early with some RT’s, but take a few days to get your feet wet.
Once you feel like you are ready to start tweeting, you are best off replying to existing tweets or conversations. Chances are you don’t have a large network and so tweeting into the Twittersphere is going to get lost in all the noise.
Find a tweet or discussion that you find interesting and click “reply”. Add an interesting comment and see what happens; you might end up having your first Twitter conversation.
You can always download the Twitter App to your smartphone, that way you are always involved in the discussion and on top of what is happening in your network and around the world.
Twitter can be an unbelievably useful tool.
You don’t even have to tweet to get tremendous value from the social network, just follow and listen!
If you aren’t at least aware of the newest trends, news or conversations, then you are not relevant. And if you or your business isn’t relevant, then what’s the point?
So what are you waiting for? Go sign up Twitter.com.