You, no doubt, have heard a lot of buzz about Twitter — especially from TV broadcasters and famous personalities, who seem enamoured with Twitter and it’s power for instant communication. Twitter claims more than 150 million registered users with 300,000 new users every day! According to The Huffington Report , an April 2010 study suggests that while most Americans are aware of Twitter, few are using it. So, what’s in it for you?
Twitter is based on 140-character snippets of information called “tweets.” Think of a tweet as a broadcast message. You need a Twitter account to send and receive tweets. The benefit of Twitter is its immediacy. The disadvantage of Twitter is the volume of tweets sent — averaging 55 million tweets a day. It’s not easy breaking through all that noise.
There is no subscription fee to join and you can set up a profile in a matter of minutes. Twitter is one of the more casual social networking sites — more like Facebook than LinkedIn. It is used for both business and personal communications.
Setting up your account
- Decide on the image you want to portray on Twitter. Let your intended use be your guide. Even though Twitter is less formal, if your intent is to use this account to promote your business, keep your Twitter image more professional.
- Create a unique Twitter name or “handle.”
While you could certainly use your real name, most Twitter users choose a name more representative of their personality or business. MNFamilyMatters is the Twitter handle for a Twin Cities based family law practice; ESQCoach is the handle for a web-based attorney marketing site; KarenEman is my Twitter handle.
- Add a photo or graphic. Since I primarily use my Twitter account for business, I use my Gravatar – the photo I use on all my online profiles including Twitter and LinkedIn. You can use a company logo or even a graphic.
- That’s all it takes to set up the very basics. You can use the “Settings” tab to add details to your profile, including a web address, as well as design the look of your Twitter background.
Now the fun begins. You need to find people to “follow.” The social media networks are making it much easier to cross-connect. The easiest way to get started is to find connections from other social media networking sites and/or your email address contacts lists to see who you know that is using Twitter. If you are on LinkedIn, add your new Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile. When asked, “allow” Twitter to connect to your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn just added a “Tweets” section to their site that shows which of your LinkedIn connections are on Twitter and those that you are following.
Another easy way to find people to follow is to check out “lists.” On my Twitter profile page, I have created multiple lists of Twitter users as a way to categorize them. One list is made up of Tweeters who live in Minnesota; another includes those who tweet about Las Vegas deals (great if you are planning a trip); and another lists people who tweet about topics of interest to small businesses,
One caveat: Don’t think of Twitter as too personal. Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, it really doesn’t matter if you know the people that you are following or that are following you. You can follow politicians, CEOs, friends, family members, industry leaders, and individuals from across the globe — and they, in turn, can follow you. That’s part of the fun!
If you are hesitant to set up a Twitter account, you can check it out first. Click on the image on the left to go directly to Twitter. Without signing up, you’ll be able to see, in real time, some of the people using Twitter as well as a collection of “ Top Tweets.” I look forward to having you follow me on Twitter. I’ll reciprocate and follow you back. RCE7FBKYKTWZ