By Robin M. Eads
Complete your profile. A complete profile will contain your name, a nice close-up picture, your location, and a short bio and link. This link can be whatever you want it to be – your LinkedIn profile, your blog, your Facebook page. Just make sure that the link you include is an appropriate representation of yourself. Remember, employers use social media, too. I recommend using city, state for your location. This makes it easier for locals to find you.
Set your preferences. Do not protect your tweets. This is pointless unless you’re only using Twitter to talk to your five personal friends in real life. Twitter is a social tool. It’s meant to be used as such. On the mobile tab, you can activate your Twitter account on your mobile phone. This is useful so that you can route direct messages, or messages from certain people, to your cell phone as text messages. That way when you’re not on Twitter you can still get that important message. You also can set time preferences, such as “only receive updates between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.” or whatever time frame works for you.
Find people to follow. This is the key to engaging on Twitter. In order to have conversations with people, or find a way to network with people you don’t know, you have to start by following them. First, decide who you are interested in following. It might be local people, other people in your industry or line of work, others with common personal interests, etc. Of course, you can start by following people you know, too! Often, people we know are a great source for finding other interesting people to follow. Find out who your friends or colleagues are following and go from there.
Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was a Twitter network. Networking takes time and patience. It also takes involvement, so the less active you are the longer it will take. Keep that in mind. The more people you follow, the more opportunities you will find to engage others and begin relationships. Quality of followers is more important than quantity.
Beware! Like anywhere else on the Internet, there are bots, scammers, and viruses roaming Twitter. If you get an odd direct message from someone asking you to click on a link – don’t do it. Reply and ask them what it’s about or if it’s legitimate. Sometimes these messages even seemingly come from those you know well – but don’t be fooled. Chances are that person’s account has been compromised by a hacker. Err on the side of caution.
Don’t say anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t say out loud to a room full of people. Self explanatory, no?
Re-tweet when you can. A re-tweet is forwarding someone’s tweet to your followers. If you like something someone has said, or like an article they tweeted, you can re-tweet it. This is a sign of endorsement by you and complimentary to the person you re-tweeted. This is often seen as a sign of endorsement of that tweeter and their content. If you want people to notice you, re-tweet them. It’s the highest form of flattery on Twitter and will get people looking at your profile – and hopefully, following you!
@ or Direct Message. If it’s something you wouldn’t say to someone in front of other people, then save it for a Direct Message. If the person you want to send the direct message to isn’t following you though, you won’t be able to send it to them. In such case, you can send an @ reply to that person asking them to follow you so that you can DM. @ replies are public, Direct Messages are not.
“What do I talk about?” This is the most asked question and it’s something I cannot answer for you. The answer is different for each person. However, consider what you’re using Twitter for. For most, you will want to present a professional image, but Twitter also is the place to let your personal side show. People are interested in who you are, not just what you do. Sharing things about yourself, your profession, industry related articles, funny things, technology news, etc. Just remember that what you tweet about will determine who finds you/follows you!