“I don’t get Twitter.” I hear it all the time. I understand though because when I first signed up for Twitter I didn’t “get it” either. Twitter just looked like a stream of consciousness non-sequiturs and random nonsense.
The truth is, a lot of what you find on Twitter is nonsense, but it doesn’t have to be. You can tailor Twitter to be what you want it to be. One of my first experiences with Twitter that showed me that it wasn’t just idiotic, unintelligible banter, was when I was on Twitter during the 2012 Super Bowl. It was like I had walked into a sports bar and everyone was in on the same conversation. They talked about plays as they happened and critiqued the commercials during every break in the action. I even joined in a little and got responses to some of my comments.
My second experience that showed me that Twitter was more than just meaningless fun was when I got my first Twitter notification that someone mentioned me. An author and HuffPo columnist, @GregoryGAllen, had come across one of my blog posts that was shared by a friend and he bought one of my books and tweeted that he was reading it. I was amazed. I had never had Twitter do anything to me before. I thought it was just something amusing to read. Gregory and I started a conversation on Twitter and eventually interviewed each other for our respective blogs.
Another time I was dissatisfied with flight delays and I tweeted the airline about it and I ended up with a $150 certificate good towards my next flight on that airline.
Get a Good Username
So how do you start on Twitter? First sign up for an account, but put some thought into your username. You could use your real name, but chances are that it’s already taken and you’ll be stuck adding underlines or symbols or random numbers to make it unique. Instead, try using an old nickname or a funny play on words with your name. It will be easy for you to remember.
Don’t be an egg!
An egg is what your profile picture will be if you don’t upload a picture. You might be saying to yourself, “But Phil,” which is an odd thing to say to yourself, “if I put a real picture of me won’t some crazy stalker come after me?” Relax. Put a picture of yourself, just not your home address. If you leave it as an egg no one will follow or interact with you. If you don’t want to put a picture of yourself, go with your favorite cartoon character or pet.
In your brief bio put what you’re interested in whether it be hobbies or favorite TV shows or authors. Relate it to what you want to do on Twitter. If you do, people that share your interests will be more likely to follow you and if you follow them you may see Tweets related to your interests.
How To Find People to Follow and How To Get Followers
On your Twitter page look up at the top right. There you’ll find an oval search box that says “Search Twitter.” Put in a hashtag # followed by your favorite topic, such as #bad80smovies. Guess what? You’ll immediately have a page full of Tweets about your topic. You can then click on and follow people that tweet about what you’re interested in. And guess what? Many of them will follow you back! Or if you want to see what your favorite celeb is talking about, look them up and follow them. Make sure it has a blue check mark symbol on the account so you know it’s the real person. The famous folks may occasionally respond to one of your responses to their tweet, but they probably won’t follow you back.
What to Tweet and How To Interact with Others Tweets
Remember, social media is forever. Just because you can say something behind the cloak of a username doesn’t mean that you should. There’s always a way to trace things back to a real person. That being said, people say things on Twitter that they’d never say on Facebook. You can make jokes, mock celebrities and complain about your family. To just get your toes wet maybe tweet about a great book you just read or a movie you saw. End your tweet with the #subject. Others looking for that topic may find your tweet and reply or start a conversation.
If you see a tweet you like, hate or want to comment on look at the symbols beneath the words. If you click on the arrow you can reply directly to the person who posted the tweet. Remember though, even if your response is directed at the one person, everyone can see it. If you really like a tweet you have two choices; you can click the star to indicate you like it, or if you want to share that tweet with others who follow you click on the kind of circular arrows. Doing that will post the tweet to your timeline but still credit the original author. Retweeting is the best way to make friends on twitter. We all have egos and like to know that others like our opinions or jokes.
I’m not trying to give the impression that I’m the King of Twitter. I’m not. Hell, I’m not even the court jester of Twitter. I’m just trying to help out those that want to try it but feel overwhelmed the first time they look at the Twitter timeline and don’t know what to make of it. Twitter is like getting in a pool. If you just stick your toe in you’ll never learn how to swim. You’ve got to just jump into Twitter and flail around until you learn how to swim, or fly I guess since Twitters logo is a bird.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter and say hello. The follow button is up there in the left sidebar. I’ll follow you back. If you like what you read at #ThePhilFactor please share by hitting the Twitter, Facebook, or reblog buttons below. Have a great weekend! ~Phil