For those of you who recently Twitter after my last two articles on Social Media (Why Social Media Matters to Photographers and The Birds and the Bees of Social Media Connectivity) let me be the first to say welcome to the community. One thing that might be helpful to those that are new to Twitter is to understand how to get the most out of it. With that in mine here are 5 tips on getting the most out of your Twitter experience.
1. Use 3rd Party Twitter Applications
Don’t rely on the web interface of Twitter alone. There are some great 3rd party applications that allow you to interact with Twitter without being tied to a web browser. Some of these include the desktop applications Twhirl and Tweetdeck & mobile applications such as Tweetie on the iPhone and TwitterBerry on the Blackberry. Personally I use Twhirl still, but I hear great things about Tweetdeck as it lets you set up a view for search terms you’re tracking. On the mobile front I’ve been super happy Tweetie.
2. What You’re Doing vs. What You’re Learning
There are multiple strategies of how to use Twitter. Some prefer to use it as a broadcast tool only. I personally have gotten a lot out of my network of contacts on Twitter by leveraging their collective web serving habits as a filter to see content that would take too long for me to find on my own. I pay most attention to what people are reading, posting, learning and if many in my network are reading the same thing I’m far more apt to read that content than let it pass me by. On the flip side I actively share with others what I think is the most interesting content I find online or write as part of my blogging. I’ve found this interaction has strengthened the connections with in my network.
3. Twitter is NOT Email, It’s OK to Miss Tweets
In an age where we’re used to using email as our primary communication tool it can take some getting used to the constant stream of information coming through Twitter. Let me tell you up front it is OK to have numerous contacts and miss seeing their Tweets . I track down missed Tweets in three ways.
- I will use Twitter Search to query terms or hashtags (ex. #photo) to scan for themed or topical content I might have missed.
- I will take a glance at trending terms on Twitter to see if there is something being discussed that is important to me. Trending terms can be found on the right hand side of your Twitter page in addition to sites like Tweetmeme.
- I wlll load the Twitter page a particular contact in my network or search that contacts name in order to see what they’ve been discussing.
- I will look to see if anyone has tweeted a reply to me (a tweet starting with @jimgoldstein) or if I’ve received a Direct Message (email like) where someone has pointed out something as a must see or sent me a question. Both of these can be done through your Twitter page or through a 3rd party application.
4. Let Your Personality Shine Through
You might think it to be difficult squeezing valuable content into a 140 characters of a tweet let alone letting your personality shine through, but how you frame your messages says a lot about you. Have fun and show your sense of humor. You’ll find people will communicate with you a whole lot more and you’ll have more fun doing it. While Twitter requires concise communication it doesn’t mean it has to be dry.
5. URL Shortening Services
There are several sites such as TinyULR.com and Bit.ly that allow you to truncate long links into shorter ones that are more Twitter friendly. This allows you to provide long links as well as provide a brief message with it. Bit.ly is the newest addition to the family of these services and the huge upside to using them is they offer metrics so you can see how many people have seen or clicked through the link you’ve Tweeted.
If I haven’t emphasized it enough have fun on Twitter and don’t let it stress you out. Experiment to find the type of interaction that works best for you. Clearly we’re not all the same and we each have our own communication pet peeves. If you don’t get Twitter take a break and observe how others are using it, then try it again to see if a new approach works better for you. Statistics show that most people create an account and then step away for varying periods of time. It is a very different form of communication and it can take some getting used to. I hope you find the site of use and I look forward to interacting with you there in addition to my blog.
[tags]Twitter, Social Media[/tags]