Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So you want to join the Tweeple?

Sounds very mysterious, huh? Twitter+People=Tweeple, or people who tweet.  Twitter doesn't have to be mysterious or confusing...read on! Last week, I started sharing some of what I’ve been learning as I navigate the world of page views and monetization for a new blog project I’m working on. Perhaps I should call this series “Teach Me Tuesday?” Anyway, this week, I’m going to share what I’ve learned so far on my whirlwind tour of Twitter!

I consider myself to be a fairly technically savvy person. After all, I surf, blog, Facebook, even Stumble. The one thing that I didn’t do was Tweet. Truth be told, I’ve had a Twitter account since December 2009 (How on earth do I know that? Because there’s a site that tells you what your Bwitterday is!), but only started actually using it a week ago. And, I almost gave up on the first day.

Twitter is ridiculously easy once you get the hang of it, but at first glance it’s sort of like walking into a party with 75 million guests and not knowing a single one. It’s hard to know where to start. Here’s what worked for me:
1) Use a Twitter Application such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, Twittelator or SocialOomph. And whatever you do, don’t start with (or even bother using) “the New Twitter.com.” This tip might make the single biggest difference to whether you stick around the Twitterverse or not. I’ll be honest, twitter.com just isn’t intuitive to me. And, “the New Twitter.com (which they’ll prompt you to switch to when you log in…just click no) is even less so.

Adventuroo pointed me in the direction of HootSuite and it made all the difference! Here’s why. Part of what makes Twitter fun is getting mentions and direct messages (DMs). It’s a lot more difficult to catch those on twitter.com. However, with HootSuite, I can have one column (stream) with ongoing conversation from people I follow, another column with tweets I’ve been mentioned in, another with direct messages, and still others with all of the hashtag streams I choose to follow. It’s just so much more intuitive! Plus, you can also manage multiple social media accounts in HootSuite…more than one twitter username, a Facebook profile and so on.

2) Check to see if the bloggers whose blogs you frequent are on Twitter. They’ll usually have a Follow Me on Twitter button, or something similar. For example, you can follow Mel of Stirrup Queens fame here, Lavender Luz of Write Mind Open Heart (formerly Weebles Weblog) here, or me here.
Now you know at least three people in the Twitterverse! And, the cool thing is that once you know people, just look for the people they’re talking to (watch for @username in their Tweets) and friend those people, too.

3) Find a niche. There’s probably a hashtag for your hobby. Start following it, and you’ve made almost instant friends. Wait, you say, “What’s a hashtag?" A hashtag is the word preceded by # that indicates which category your tweet should be grouped into. You check a directory of hashtags to see if there's one for your interests...if there's not, you can always create one!

Hashtags, in my opinion, are what make Twitter even more powerful and interesting than Facebook. Your posts aren’t limited to only those people in your Facebook Friends list. Instead, anyone who’s following the hashtag you entered sees your post! For example, let’s say I had an awesome customer service experience flying Twitter Air last week and I wanted them to know about it. I might say, “Had a great experience on Twitter Air my flight to Houston last week! #TwitterAir #custserv. Now, anyone who’s following #TwitterAir or #custserv sees my tweet….which opens up even more network opportunities!

Since I’m interested in going to at least one blog conference this year, I started following many of the conference hashtags (#blogher, #RR11, #Relevant11, #typeaparent). The ladies at #DisneySMMoms are active and wonderfully welcoming, so I’ve settled in there and made a few new friends!

4) Have fun at Twitter Parties. Twitter Parties are an awesome way to meet new people, get exposure to brands (for future sponsorship opportunities) and win cool prizes. The best Twitter Party schedule I’ve found is at TweeParties. They have a great Getting Started Guide.
The single best tip on the TweeParty site is to use a Twitter Aggregator. I recommend TweetGrid. Twitter Parties are fast paced. TweetGrid just makes it easier to keep up. Depending on the size of the party you join, it may still be hard to keep up. Don’t get discouraged. Just add your two cents where you can and click the Stop/Pause button, too, if you need to catch up

Hopefully these tips will help get you started if you’ve been on the fence about joining Twitter. Honestly, if you thought Facebook was addictive, you haven’t seen anything yet! Twitter is just so much more fast paced, and the audience so much more diverse. As adventuroo so aptly put it, Twitter really is like a cocktail party. And, if you dive in head first and embrace the mingle, you’ll do just fine! Be sure to say hello next time you stop by my part of the Twitterverse!

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