Twitter Tips: Getting Started

In my humble opinion, if you’re not on Twitter, you are missing OUT! If you have a blog, it is absolutely essential. But even if you don’t have a blog, you might be surprised at the ways you can use Twitter to build your professional network.

I hear comments from people all the time who aren’t sure why they should “set up a Twitter”. And let’s just get one thing out of the way – Twitter grammar. Here’s how you use the word – tweet, tweets, tweeted, tweeting. You never “twit”, “twat” or “twittered”. Got it? 🙂

1. Choosing Your Name

I may not be the best example for this one! My Twitter handle (aka name) is @AthleteWannabe. Why? Because @WannabeAthlete was already taken. (Darn it all!) You want something that is EASY for people to remember. Too many random numbers or spellings make it hard for someone to remember your handle.

Also, shorter is better. Sometimes it’s tough to include someone’s handle in a tweet since you’re limited to 140 characters. Keeping it short and simple increases your chances that someone will be mentioning you in their conversation!

2. Deciding Who to Follow

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with Twitter is deciding who to follow. Admittedly, I did this at first. I signed up for Twitter and started following the people Twitter thought I should follow. I followed celebrities like Oprah and Ellen. I followed singers, actors and news personalities. And I got bored. I wasn’t sure why I should care about reading what they were doing. I also wasn’t getting any followers. So I quit Twitter for a while.

When I got back on Twitter, I unfollowed those people and started following people I “knew” through the blogging world. People whose blogs I’ve been reading for years. People like @CaitlinHTP, @dailygarnish and @MealsAndMiles. They all had pretty big followings, but reading their tweets felt much more personal. I looked to see who they were following and started following some people whose profiles sounded interesting. I found new blogs and great new people that way!

Another big mistake I see is people who immediately start following hundreds of people – and have no followers. I’m sorry, but that’s not a good ratio to have. Build up your list of people you follow slowly – and hopefully some of those people will reciprocate and follow you back too. There is no magic “ratio” of how many followers/following you should have, but I can tell you that it always looks better to have more people following you than you follow!

3. Building Your Network

Yes, Twitter can be one of your greatest networking tools. Start interacting with people. Think their tweet is interesting? Reply to it with a comment. I tend to view Twitter as a giant chat room – remember those? It’s not an empty space just to voice your feelings – it’s a place to interact. To connect. You’ll be amazed at the network you can develop through Twitter.

One of the best ways to network? Use hashtags. What is a hashtag you might ask? It’s something like #fitblog or #fitfluential. If you’re looking for people who are fitness-minded, search for those things. You’ll find people tweeting with that hashtag and you’ll find people interested in the same things as you. Hashtags are also great to use at conferences. I recently attended a conference from work and used the ‘official’ hashtag for the conference. I tweeted something during a session, and saw a tweet from another person in the same session. We figured out we were sitting right next to eachother! Instant real life connection. Looking for people in your area? Use #tampa or #chicago or whatever your geographic location might be.

Another rule of networking is that it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. This is true on Twitter too. No, you may not be able to get Oprah to start following you. But maybe you can find one of her editorial assistants and start following her. Strike up a conversation. And then maybe when she’s looking for a blogger for an upcoming project for the magazine, she might just think of you!

(Yes, Oprah has almost 11 MILLION followers!)

I have so many more Twitter tips to share, but I don’t want to overwhelm any of you newbies. One of my biggest suggestions, however, is to use a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck as opposed to the actual Twitter webpage. I use Hootsuite and LOVE it. It’s a more streamlined way to manage your account (or accounts if you have more than one!).

Do you have any questions about how to effectively use Twitter? Please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments! 


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23 Responses to Twitter Tips: Getting Started

  1. Thanks for the great tips. I am a new to Twitter and to blogging, and I need all the help and advice I can get.

    By the way, I am a runner as well and your blog rocks. Love it!

  2. Well, you know I love twitter, but it is CRAZY how people my age avoid it like the plague. I have exactly ONE real life friend my age who actually tweets regularly. Luckily, I have a ton of virtual friends (and a few younger like you) who tweet. Twitter just has a slight learning curve that people don’t want to go through. I’ve found the same for Google+. I’ve all but begged all my friends to use both but they won’t. They just want Facebook and nothing else. I think if you are reluctant to embrace social media and new forms of communication then you are doomed to irrelevancy in your old age. I don’t want that to happen to me.

  3. Great post! Twitter was so confusing to me when I first started using it, but I am starting to like it more than Facebook!

  4. katie

    Caroline… Teach me how to use Google+? Pretty please?

  5. I saw this post when I was commenting in NYC Running Mama and I HAD to check it out. Then I recognized your blog name from the Women’s Running Magazine! 🙂

    I have been using Twitter for a few months now and I must say I love many aspects of it but I am a little intimidated by it sometimes. Like, all the #Runchat or #FitFluential comments or discussions…. I don’t really know how to get “in” on all that. Do I just jump in and if so, how?
    Yeah, and I don’t even know about google+…

    Anyway, great post!! I am going to have to start checking out this blog.. 🙂

    • I’ll post soon about Twitter chats like #runchat and #fitblog. In the meantime, just feel free to add the hashtag to the end of the tweets when you think they fit! And I love that you recognized my blog name from Women’s Running Magazine! Makes me feel a little famous. 🙂

  6. I’m still not completely on the Twitter train. I use a lot of social media for work so on a personal basis I really only use Facebook and Foursquare. I think it’s a great tool, I just always forget to use it!

  7. I’ve thought about creating a twitter account, but I’m already overwhelmed between facebook, blogging, email, pinterest, and reading the news… twitter just seems like another time suck!

    Maybe in the future!

  8. I am still a newbie to Twitter. I’ve probably been on it for 3 months but only used it sporadically at the beginning. I want to know how people retweet things with their comment in front, like a reply.
    I feel like since I am young I should know all this latest technology but since I am working and doing other stuff I don’t have time to devote to learn this crap. I seriously don’t even know how to use my smartphone yet.

  9. Amanda K

    Loved this post! Keep ’em coming. I’m new to twitter as well so this was very helpful! Thanks Callie!

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  11. Oh man I wish I had read this post a few months ago! I seriously knew NOTHING about twitter. Not that I really know that much about it now… but I really didn’t even GET it before! Which now seems silly…. but I’m a bit slow! 🙂

  12. Honestly, I’ve been on the fence about Twitter for years… This post, along with some other prodding from the universe, finally got me off that fence! THANK YOU for the nudge.
    from the newly-named “RunTraveler”

  13. I’m actually flipping between setting up my twitter account and this post. LOL! So glad you posted this last week…..gave me the courage to give twitter a shot. Now please tell me when to use the hashtags verses the @xxx? Help! LOL!

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  18. Great post! I’m just getting into Twitter again. I was so guilty of so many of the mistakes you mentioned! It’s true… as I learn more it really does become so much better.

  19. I”ve been looking for a Twitter 101, so this is great! Thanks!!!

  20. My advice is to pay attention to your @ stream so that you know when people are talking to you or mentioning you. You don’t want to miss an opportunity when someone is attempting to connect with you.

    Great 101!

  21. Thanks for the great pointers! I just opened my twitter account yesterday and it all appeared very overwhelming. Today, this post makes it seem a little less intimidating. Thank you and I look forward to following 🙂

  22. I’m also new to using twitter. Thanks for sharing!

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