How To Use Twitter: A Beginners Guide

No More L Plates

No More L Plates

If you’ve signed up for Twitter and are thinking “now what?”, this article is for you. There are still plenty of people that have never used Twitter, and for many that do Twitter still feels alien to them.

If you have already got the hang of Twitter and want something more advanced then head over to Udemy and sign up for my online course “How To Use Twitter To Build Authority In Your Market Sector”.

For the rest of you I aim to help you get from the point, after you initially signed up, to being a confident Tweeter in 7 easy steps.

Before we get started the first thing to have in mind is that writing a good Tweet (Twitter Message) takes practise. You only have 140 characters, including punctuation and spaces, use them wisely. Whilst some shortening of words is acceptable, try to avoid using Text Speak on Twitter, you’re not writing a text message!

So you’ve created a Twitter account, you may have even connected with some people and are seeing their updates. If you already know some people on Twitter you may be having conversations, but other than using Twitter as another form of Instant Messaging what more can you do?

A lot depends on why you signed up for Twitter and what you want to get out of it, which brings us to our first step:

1. Why Are You Here?

Why are you using Twitter? Did you sign up to follow celebrities, because your friends are on Twitter or maybe you thought you could use Twitter to promote your business? Any of these are valid, but each means you will mean you will be looking to use Twitter slightly differently once you have got the hang of it.

Having your goals in mind will help you make some choices during the further steps below. You don’t have to use Twitter every day, in fact you never need send a message at all. You can just use Twitter to monitor what others are saying, like your competitors.

2. Profile Image

If you are using Twitter for business you will want to ensure you have a professional looking image as your profile picture.

If your Titter account is representing your business then your company logo would be the best to use. If you are using Twitter to represent you as a person then a photo of you would be preferable. There is no better feeling at a business event than people recognising you because of your Twitter profile picture, it makes networking all that much easier.

Of course if you are using Twitter for any other reason then using any image you wish, try to pick an image that represents your character for best effect. In a previous post I wrote about The Best Profile Photos to Use, especially useful if you want to maximise the amount of people that are likely to follow you.

3. Complete Your Bio

Who are you?

What do you do?

What are you interested in?

Sean Clark on Twitter

My Bio

These are all questions you should answer in your bio. Be warned you only have 160 characters, use them wisely. If you want people to follow you they’ll need a good reason to do so, regardless of whether you’re using Twitter for business or not. Make your bio fun, not just factual, and your likely to get more followers.

4. You Are What You Tweet

Now you’re ready to start Tweeting. But what are you going to say?

This will largely be based on your “Goals” from step 1. If you’re using Twitter for fun and communication with friends then feel free to just chat as normal. If you want to start engaging with others you don’t know, then you have to talk about things that may be of interest to them. And if you’re not a celebrity this will mean avoiding talking about yourself too much!

If you’re into jogging or running for example sharing your times and distances on Twitter can be a fun way to keep track of your training. Mixing this with links to interesting articles you read on the web about running will firmly position you as a keen runner and you’re likely to get other runners follow and converse with you.

You can apply this methodology to any interest or business sector. If you’re using Twitter for business, it’s even more important not to talk about yourself too much. Twitter accounts full of self-promotional Tweets are not that interesting to anyone, although there are always exceptions – see Dell Outlet UK.

5. How Often To Tweet

This will vary a lot dependant on what you are looking to achieve. Even with a casual account based around your own interests you want to be sending out Tweets regularly, 3 or 4 times a day perhaps. If you’re in business and looking to use Twitter commercially you are going to need to Tweet more often. If people get used to you being there and you Tweet interesting stuff regularly they are more likely to keep following you, start conversations with you and importantly share your stuff.

Of course this can be time consuming, so you need to make a schedule for using Twitter just like you would for checking your email. You definitely want to avoid getting sucked into checking your Twitter account throughout the day. In this respect Twitter can be more distracting than your Inbox, so set a schedule and stick to it!

6. Follow To Get Followed

Over time people will come across you due to the information you Tweet, they will then start following you, but you can be proactive about obtaining more followers. One of the best ways to get more followers, is to follow more people. In the earlier years of Twitter if you followed someone, the etiquette was to follow them back, this is how some of the early adopters of the platform gained thousands of followers.

Although not everyone still follows this etiquette, many do, and as long as you make sure your account has plenty of interesting Tweets, a good Bio with a link to your website, if you have one, and a professional profile image you’ll find reciprocation will not be an issue.

So using our example from step 4, go to Twitter.com and type in the search field at the top of the page running. This will bring back all the recent Tweets that mention the word “running”. The results themselves may not be of much use, what is of more interest is the People link top left. This will list all the people with some interest in running, follow these and if you post good stuff they are likely to follow you back.

Finding People to Follow

Finding People to Follow

Follow me and I will follow you back!

Of course you may want to follow some of the brands or celebrities in any case, just to read their stuff.

Advanced Tip: If you click on a Twitter accounts name you will see how many followers they have. If you click on this link it will list those followers, and if that Twitter account talks about running, using our example, then it’s followers are likely to be interested in running! Start following these accounts and there’s a chance they will follow you back also.

7. Share Generously

One of the reasons Twitter is so popular is that it is really easy to share information, not just your own information, but others too. If that information is interesting enough it can even go viral, spreading around the web very quickly. This is one of the attractions for businesses, the ability to spread messages widely with relatively little effort.

The trick to getting your content shared is to write or produce interesting and useful stuff, whether it be a quirky photo, short video, a “how to” article or just an interesting comment. You also need to be open to sharing others content too. Very much like getting followed, if you help others spread their content they are more likely to reciprocate.

This is where the ReTweet comes in. The ReTweet link below a message allows you to send someone else’s message on easily to your followers. If there’s enough space in the Tweet you can add a further comment too if you wish.

Retweet & Share Generously

Retweet & Share Generously

Bonus Tip: Going Mobile

Twitter has been a popular tool for many in developing countries or living within oppressive regimes not only because of the ease with which you can spread a message, but also due to the low level of technology needed to use the platform. You can just as easily use Twitter on a basic Nokia phone with no smart features as you can on the latest iPhone or a PC.

Going mobile with Twitter can add another dimension to your Tweets making them more real and instant. You don’t need a WiFi connection or data plan either, you can Tweet just using SMS.

To connect your mobile to Twitter just head over to the Mobile Settings on your Twitter account. Then see the help section for How To Use Twitter on Your Mobile.

You can even send picture messages too!

Note: Any Tweets you send via you mobile using this method will be charged against your text message allowance dependant on your mobile contract.

Hopefully this will get you off to a good start, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or leave them in the comments below.

When you’re ready to move to the next level then please try my online course: “How To Use Twitter To Build Authority In Your Market Sector”.

If you have any questions just send me a Tweet.

About Sean Clark

With over 14 years' experience of building successful online companies, we help you market your business online. Whether you need help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search (PPC) or Social Media Marketing call us today on 01379 330330 for a free initial consultation.

Find Sean on:
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  • http://www.dailyvowelmovements.com/ Daily Vowel Movements

    Very useful for someone like me who has just started using Twitter. Thanks.

  • Baffled

    Still none the wiser,still don’t know how to leaves message on twitter! Perhaps it is a good idea, so may be I shall delete it from my iPad.

  • Confused

    I”ve gotten the same information on using it as you did which makes me just as wise as you . Confused

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    @588b74c5a459d8d6cb9137ade89cc3c4:disqus @b6d38ca122c6ce4c06e02bdf70d081aa:disqus Guys let me know what you’r stuck on, would be more than happy to help.

  • @HannahDeflin

    thanks too!

  • @HannahDeflin

    and plus can I know how to change my profile picture??i cant change!

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    Hannah to change your profile picture on Twitter, make sure you’re logged in and go to: https://twitter.com/settings/profile

  • Robynjazzed

    I’m withu.. More confused than ever and I am quite computer literate. Can’t figure how to send a tweet and that was all I wanted to do! Guess I’ll delete twitter too

  • disinboggled

    I never used twitter andI don’t know how to leave messages. I am far from being stupid. I have two degrees, one in physics and one in economics. However, this twitter is mind boggling to say the least. Please I wish for some real help

  • Lena

    No better off after reading this

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    @disqus_6ZKPjPh6jR:disqus sorry to here that, what else do you need to know, I will see if I can help.

  • Pamela Robinson

    What does each symbol mean? What is a hash tag?

  • @dcslavico

    I’m new on this. I don’t know anyone on twitter but can I contact Celebes by just putting there name then message. Give me an example how to contact or message a person

  • dimi

    I just opened an acct. I am a Twitter Idiot! I’m CLUELESS! I
    wrote programs for our business back in the very early 80’s- in BASIC! How pathetic! PLEASE help! Thanks!

  • John

    Sean I am the part when I signed up for a account. Where do I go from here? Step by step please.

  • John Savelli

    Sean I have signed up for a Twitter account what is the NEXT STEP ? I mean I need step by step.

  • elaine hanan

    would you mind if I used (stole) your guide to run a 30 minute ‘Introduction to Twitter’ workshop for travel executives (ACTE) being held in Dubai on 20th May

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    Elaine,

    Please feel free, let me know how it goes.

    All the best
    Sean