Today, I’m going to give you Twitter 101. Doesn’t matter that I know next nothing about it, as that has never stopped me before. The learning curve is steep and difficult to navigate in these unwieldy orthopedic shoes, but I press on, dear readers, in an effort to help you.
If you are reading this and have a blog of your own, you are already aware that social media in all its various forms is a time sucking necessary evil.
I joined Twitter because all the cool kids were doing it and wanted another shiny button to put in my side bar.
My first few tweets were stupid and hopefully not seen or remembered by the one or two followers who came on board back then. Since that time, I have learned a thing or two, and now know just enough to be a danger and an embarrassment to my family.
Many (okay, maybe 3 or 4) other bloggers have asked me for some help, since I do claim to be an authority on everything. Today, gentle readers, I give you what I know about Twitter, and how you can use it to your advantage to increase blog traffic. You can also use Twitter to make friends with total strangers from all corners of the world.
First things first.
1. Join Twitter. It’s like the lottery. You must buy a ticket to win. So sign up already.
2. Before you do anything else. Please upload your own image. Putting your picture, your logo or your Gravatar up right away lets people know it’s you. Don’t be surprised if many of your already rabid blog readers start following you once they recognize you. The Twitter Egg is much like the Facebook Ice Cream Cone Head. Get rid of it as soon as possible.
3. Start following people. A good place to start is by following fellow bloggers by clicking on their shiny “follow me” buttons. You all know bloggers are a fun and festive bunch who like to spread the love. Don’t expect all of them to follow you back right away, but some will.
4. Follow some of your favorite celebrities. Note*-Just because you follow a celebrity doesn’t mean they are following you. Bummer it doesn’t work that way, but it doesn’t. I’ve been on a mission to get the attention of two of my favorite celebrities through aggressive
stalking tweeting, but to no avail.
5. Just start “tweeting”. You can be pithy, funny, thoughtful and yes, even brilliant in 140 characters or less, since that’s all you have. Here are a few tweeting guidelines.
An open tweet, is just you rambling, to no one in particular. Like this:
A tweet where you want to get the attention of a certain person looks like this:
Note the “@” symbol in front of John Cleese‘s name. This means that one of his many PR goons or personal assistants may see this, as he will be alerted that I tweeted about him. This is what’s known as a “mention”. Generally, if you do this for a real person, and not a celebrity, odds are good that they will reply to you. These tweets are seen by all of your followers, so they may respond to you. If they leave the name of the person you mentioned in their tweet, the subject of the first tweet will be alerted again to the subsequent mention. Are you still following me here? Here’s an example:
You’ll see that @enchantedCshel is trying to help me, and by leaving @johncleese in the tweet, he (or someone he pays to read tweets directed at him) will see it.
I don’t exactly know which category “Sub Tweets” fall into, so I’ll just stick them here. Fellow blogger Edward Hotspur did a brilliant blog post on them just a few days ago. Please read it HERE. A subtweet is a tweet you tweet to one particular person when you want to mention something , but you don’t really mention that person’s name. Most likely because they don’t follow you on Twitter, or you’re a coward and are scared that if they saw the tweet and knew you were talking about them, they might break your kneecaps. This was a concept that has taken me many long weeks to grasp. Thank you to Mr. Edward for helping clear it up for me. Here’s an example:
Okay, let’s move on to other “interactions”
To confuse you even more, a “mention” is a form of “interaction” but there are others. Let’s start with the “favorite” and the “retweet”. You will notice in the above tweets there are little buttons that say “favorite” and “retweet”. These are little goodies your tweeps give you. If they click the star, you get a little alert message that someone “favorited” your tweet. If they hit the “retweet” button, then that sends your tweet to all of their Twitter followers. Follow? If one of your tweeps has 3000 followers, and they retweet your tweet, that means your tweet is now seen by an additional 3000 tweeps. Capiche?
Now onto The Hashtag! This is where all the fun is, friends. You aren’t a somebody until you are hashtagging. What’s a hashtag, you ask? “#” is a hashtag. I know, it used to be a number symbol, and then it became the “pound key” and now it’s the hashtag. That has got to be the quickest example of keyboard evolution that I can think of. Anyhoo, “what’s it for already?!”-Ok, I’m getting to that.
If you see a tweet with a # in it, it is seen by your followers and whoever is following or participating in that same hashtag. You will see this a lot when you watch your favorite tv shows. They invite you to get involved with other viewers this way. Or regular tweeps will start a hashtag game of their own, like #medicalmovies, or #rejectedbondtitles.
You can play along like this:
This tweet will now go to the borg collective. Anyone who searches for all #rejectedbondtitles will see it. You can spread your wisdom to untold numbers of other crazy folks who love to hashtag.
One of the most popular hashtags you will see is this one: #ff- this stands for either Fast follow or Follow Friday. It’s only done on Fridays. The point is obviously to get more followers, and hopefully get more followers for your followers. Still following me? You cram as many Twitter handles as you can cram into your little window and hit send. Hopefully by the end of the day, you will have a handful of new followers. Great in theory, but in my experience, it’s gotten me more Unfollows than anything most weeks. If you see your handle in one of these, it’s good Twitter courtesy to retweet, and favorite, and thank everyone involved. Like this:
Or, you can take the time to mention one person you like and give them a #ff shoutout:
One last thing. As hard as it may be, try not to get too caught up in the follow/unfollow thing. Your follower count will go up and down and drive you mad if you let it. So don’t. We can’t all be the Pope, who joins Twitter and instantly has a gazillion followers. Over time, you will build a tweep fan base. I’m up to 10…11…9…*sigh*…….