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Michael Geheren

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The Power of Twitter

Posted: 01/11/12 09:33 AM ET

Twitter is one of the most valuable tools on the Internet.

I am in high school and work in journalism, and I've met more powerful people in my field over Twitter than I would have ever without Twitter. The key to networking is using resources around you, and Twitter is one of them.

It really makes me mad when uneducated people bash Twitter. From personal experience I have come to realize that a majority of people don't fully understand the power of Twitter. The people that 'tweet' about what they just ate or that they are waking up doesn't make up a majority of the users.

I really think teens who want to go into communications, politics, or any field that deals with an audience should consider getting a Twitter and using it to their full advantage.

Twitter has become a platform for people to share ideas, collaborate, aggregate and explore new things. Some things I have used Twitter for personally is to get in touch with sources to interview them for an article, collaborate on ideas surrounding my interests, join in on a national trending discussion and meet new people.

How you should use Twitter

Starting off as a teenager on Twitter is a good idea. Here are some guidelines I have come up with to use Twitter appropriately. Often it is used unprofessionally, which could end up hurting you more that helping.

  1. First off, create one -- it is pretty simple. Just go to twitter.com and follow the instructions.
  2. Once you have created your profile, it's vital that you add a photo of yourself. I recommend using one of just you -- no group photos -- and make sure it's close up.
  3. Create a short biography. Be professional in this. Make it in first person; a PR firm is not representing you. Include your school, grade, interests and experiences. Here is mine: "Digital Editor in Chief of The Voice @HuntleyVoice. I also write and design for Chicago Tribune's TheMash. #mylifeisjournalism" I kept it simple and to the point.
  4. Use your real hometown. Saying something like "none of your business, US" or similar to that really makes you look bad. If you are concerned about privacy saying "Greater Chicago Area" is sufficient.
  5. For your website, if you don't have one, just leave it blank right now. Create a blog to voice your opinions in a longer form and use that as your website.
  6. Make your twitter public. This is the biggest Twitter mistake anyone can make. If you make your profile private, people will not follow you. The key to Twitter success is having followers. If you have things to talk about with your friends, then Twitter is not the place for you. I created a private and public Twitter. Many of my friends have joined Twitter recently, so I decided to create a Twitter so I could communicate with them, but not share it with the world.
  7. Your first tweet is always the hardest. Make it cool: Mashable.com has some cool examples of celebrities' first tweets.
  8. If you had a Twitter before, go back and delete some of the tweets that might embarrass you. People actually do read your tweets when applying for a job.
  9. Make sure to tweet something with content, something that matters.
    • Tweet about a subject you are passionate about: video games, SOPA, photography, politics, social media, or education.
    • Use hashtags. These # symbols are created to trend a topic. Use a hashtag to join a discussion. The hashtag creates uniformity about a topic.
    • Retweet, retweet, retweet. This is nothing I love more than when someone retweets me. I know, it is a huge ego-boost, but it means people care about what you have to say and also can help you gain some connections.
    • Don't be too controversial. Don't express your political opinions on Twitter unless you are sure you want to. Remember people can look back at your tweets.
    • Stay relevant and timely, don't tweet a ton one day and stay off for a couple of months.
    • Link. See an article you like, share it with your followers and link it in your tweet.

  10. Check your grammar! I make this mistake often and need to work on it, but make sure you spell things correctly and write in English. Don't use your text lingo unless it is necessary.
  11. Follow your followers back. They obviously care about what you tweet about; you should be respectful and follow back.


Twitter is more than just a place to explain where you are going or what you are doing. It is a way to connect with so many people just by writing in 140 characters or less. Share your Twitter handle (your @username) when you go to meet people. Put it on your resume and be proud of it. Some of my greatest mentors I have met overTwitter and continue to use their advice every time they tweet about something.