I have a confession to make: I was not an early adopter of Twitter. To be honest, I didn't get it. I didn't get the language. It seemed like a string of links to even more things I had no time to read. It felt overwhelming. LinkedIn and Facebook made sense as a perfect extension of networking I was already doing, but the charm of Twitter eluded me.
Sound familiar? I hear the same thing from many people, but what I discovered when I actually engaged on Twitter has turned me into a devotee. Twitter has been one of the greatest learning tools of my career.
If you are hesitant to join Twitter, you are not alone. However, I want to encourage you to give it a shot. Set up an account, follow some people and learn some things. People on Twitter are very generous with their time and knowledge. Yes, you will spend time on Twitter that you already don't have, but you will also learn things that will make you more valuable, smarter and "in the know." I use Twitter instead of Google for information gathering, and it has made me more productive.
Change is all around us, and the only way we can move forward is to change together and collaborate. I am still a newbie, but if I have inspired you to try, here are some tips to get you started:
1] Come up with a goal for trying Twitter. Is your goal to interact with the media or journalists? Is it to gain exposure for personal branding in your area of expertise? Is it to learn from others who are experts in their field? Or is it to increase traffic to your Web site or blog?
2] When you sign up, complete the profile as fully as possible. Add a photo, short bio, user name and real name. People want to know who you are. Your bio should reflect your goal. Make sure you include the URL for your site, blog or Facebook page.
3] There is no need to panic if you don't have a ton of people following you. If you post good information, people will find you slowly and steadily.
4] You may have multiple goals for Twitter, feel free to have multiple accounts. At our firm we have 11 accounts and each one has a different audience and purpose.
5] Start off by sharing your knowledge. I bet you know a lot about your industry and your business. Think of Twitter as a great way to share that information. If you read something helpful, share the link on Twitter and let others benefit from your find. Generosity is a good business practice.
6] Because we are limited to 140 characters on Twitter, you will need to learn about shortening URLs. I use a site called Bit.ly because it helps me track my shortened URLs. Or you can use a web site called Hootsuite which allows you to shorten URLs, track them and manage multiple accounts. It's kind of like the Swiss Army Knife of Twitter.
7] Learn the common abbreviations. We created a helpful postcard for our clients. Please feel free to print it for yourself.
8] If you read something you like on Twitter, remember to retweet it. It's a great way to give credit to people who are putting out good information. If you want to join the conversation, use reply.
9] Follow people you already follow in other ways: Journalists you admire, comedians who make you laugh, or authors who inspire and teach.
10] Be a good community member. A good rule of thumb is to have a 4 to 1 ratio for self promotion. One self-promotional tweet to 4 that will help others or engaging in the community through reply or retweet.
If you are new or nervous, follow me on @websnapshot and we'll learn together. My goal for this feed is to learn and share good ways to integrate social media and web publicity. Along the way, I share resources and tools with my staff, increase exposure for my clients, get business ideas, and collaborate with smart people. I post links and articles everyday that help me be better, and I hope they will help you as well.
In the comments below, tell me about your experiences with Twitter. Do you like it?
Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, a web publicity and social media firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. Founded in 1995, FSB's mission is to give authors an opportunity to promote their work to an eager, targeted audience online. FSB is based in the NYC area. Please engage with FSB on Facebook or Twitter. For web publicity and social media news, follow Fauzia on a new Twitter feed: @WebSnapshot