Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Twitter for Newbies

Only having been on Twitter since this past summer, you could say I've taken to it like a duck to water. Here are five and a half tips to help you find Twitter success:

1.  Understand how Twitter works. I recommend you read these instructions by the amazing designer/Internet addict, Jessica Hische, Mom This is How Twitter Works. Basically you build a group of people who you want to read--those are the people you follow.  There's definitely a bit of a learning curve for "reading" Twitter. It can be confusing to look at someone's Twitter stream and see a bunch of fragments of conversations all starting with @. But it just takes practice, so don't give up.

2. Know your goal. Why are you on Twitter? Professional development? Friends? Personal branding? Spend some time thinking about how you want to use Twitter. If you're pondering the "why" of using Twitter, especially as a professional tool, here's a blog post by Scott McLeod that I LOVE, If You Were on Twitter Yesterday. Here are some other questions to consider:
  • What do you want to get out of it?
  • How do you want to present yourself? Private? Representing your job? Personal?
  • Are you using your real name or a pseudonym?
  • What are potential consequences of your Twitter profile? If your boss finds you? Your friends?
3. Start following people! At the beginning, Twitter's suggestions won't be very useful for who to follow, since it doesn't know about your interests. There will be a lot of trial and error. Don't worry about unfollowing people. When you find someone you like, look at who they follow and add those people. The more people you follow, the more who will follow you back, though this may be a slow process.

When I started, I followed everyone involved with Flannel Friday, and then started exploring their Follow lists. I also looked for authors I liked and bloggers I read. Celebrities are another source. Sometimes they weren't a good fit, and I ended up unfollowing. That's ok, and really shouldn't be a big deal.

4. Jump in. for a while you may be Tweeting into a void, but keep at it. You won't get a lot of followers until you've shown that you have something to say. The best way to build followers, friendships, and increase your Tweet count is to just jump in! Remember that Twitter is public and you can jump into any conversation-that's how it works.

4.5 Or not! Lurking is ok if you just want to use Twitter to stay current. In this case seek out Tweeps who use Twitter mostly for professional purposes--linking to articles and relevant info. Or just keep up with discussions using #hashtags and the search bar. If this is you, you probably won't follow people like me who tend to blather on. That's fine too.

5. Be patient and don't take things personally. Twitter is public, and there are a LOT of people talking. Some of the people you follow will have hundreds or even thousands of followers. If you mention them in a Tweet they may not even see it, or get so many responses that they don't/can't respond to everyone. Twitter is very 'of the moment.' Go ahead and jump in on any conversation you want to, but know that if the last response was a half hour ago you might be too late. You may have to respond to someone several times before they start noticing you and responding. Just be patient, and don't take it personally.

Twitter is fun. I'm so thankful for all the amazing librarians all around the world whom I now consider my friends.


  1. Hmmm. Don't consider your contributions "blathering" but otherwise this is spot on! Twitter has transformed how I do my job and bumped up my effectiveness to the next level, to the point where I can't imagine working without it. Great post!

  2. Thanks Mel! I hope people find it helpful :D


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