Hi, all! Now that you’ve hopefully found some helpful tips in my post Twitter 101, and are not so freaked out by followers anymore, you might be ready to move on to Twittering 201. You should be following at least 50 people, and therefore at least 25 people are probably following you (if, that is, you have a decent bio and photo avatar). You now have a Twitter community!
Keep adding to your community by finding more and more people – add at least 5 to 10 a week. Read what they have to say. You don’t have to read every tweet — think of it like tuning in to a radio show for a half hour a day: Just get on Twitter, read what’s going on with “your people” during that half hour, jump in if you feel like it, write to a few folks you like, then log off. Tell your new friends interesting things about your common interests – cool things you’ve read or things you’ve seen. Ask people questions with @replies. People will also continue to find you, and your community will grow. Keep watching how people interact to get the lingo down pat.
Now here are some fun things to do as a “second level”:
1. Add your blog stream. If you have a blog, you can have your blog posts upload to Twitter automatically. Do this at www.twitterfeed.com. (I have to admit, I had help with this from my company’s SEO guy, so I can only answer the simplest of questions on this – like the name of the site. …) Once you feed your blog into Twitter, the title of each post will go up within a half hour of posting. (I get a lot of clicks to my blog this way.)
2. Upload TweetDeck or Twhirl. I know I already mentioned this in my first post, but it’s pretty important. These types of free programs will really help you organize your streams and chat with people easily. I can’t imagine tweeting w/out them, actually. TweetDeck lets you do a lot of different things, but it takes up more memory, so pick and choose.
3. Learn to create tiny URLs. Twitter is really about sharing great information. And, in many cases, we want to share URLs. But gosh … the URLs are so long! And you only get 140 characters on Twitter as it is, right? Enter tiny URLS! You can create them at www.tinyurl.com. TweetDeck also does this (automatically). (In TweetDeck, when you hit the “word bubble” icon in the top left corner, you get a showplace for your tweets. The second line down says “Shorten URL.” Copy the URL here, then hit the “Shorten” button to the right. It will shrink your URL to a “tiny URL” and pop it right into your tweet! Cute, huh? And only a couple of characters!)
4. Talk to more than one person at a time. Whenever you talk to or about someone on Twitter, use the @username each time (UPDATE: 5-12-09 — for it to show up in the main stream, put a word or character in front of the name, such as “To @username…” or “Dear @username…”). This way it will show up in their “Replies” stream and they will see you’ve mentioned them. This is considered kind Twitter etiquette. For instance: “Hot workout tip: Bicep curls can tone your tummy! Thx @jorgecruise and @joelmarion.” (I’m not talking to them, but now my tweet will show up in their streams and they will see someone has mentioned them.)
5. Use the search tool. TweetDeck has a “search” button (looks like a magnifying glass at top) so you can set up a search column. Search for anything: photography, Lost, ER, Obama, diabetes, walking, Starbucks, anything you want – and you’ll see everyone in Twitterdom who is talking about it right now. (Not just the people you follow, but everyone!) This is a good way to find people to follow: Follow people who talk about what you like to talk about. You can also search at www.search.twitter.com.
6. Hashtags. Hashtags are used a lot on Twitter, mostly to group tweets into a topic so people can search for them (see No. 5 above). For instance, everyone who talks about American Idol uses #idol at the end of every tweet so that their tweet will show up in an “Idol” search. This is how people group themselves into discussion groups. Popular discussion groups are #tcot, #hhrs, #Lost, #Idol, etc. Some are chats during a certain period of time (#hhrs is in the afternoons for an hour on west coast, for instance, while the TV ones are during the hour they’re on TV in different time zones), but others (like #walking or #diet) are just popular topics that are ongoing. You can look at www.hashtags.org to see some popular groups. I participate in #litchat on my lunch hour from 1 to 2 p.m. on M, W, and F. We talk about books. It’s a great group. I put #litchat in my search stream and watch the discussion. Or I can go back and look at it later that night.
7. Send pictures. You can send pictures on Twitter by using www.twitpic.com. It works a lot like Flickr – it “holds” the photos for you, then you send the link in your tweet. Take pics from your phone, put them on TwitPic, then tweet a funny story about it.
8. Read Darren Rowse’s TwiTip blog (www.twitip.com). Darren (who also writes www.ProBlogger.net) is really a terrific writer. He explains everything simply and succinctly. What I like about TwiTip, especially, is that he’s just figuring Twitter out with the rest of us, so he is sometimes “musing” about things. But mostly he’s figuring things out for you ahead of time and walking you through his discoveries. Brilliant stuff.
9. Have fun with Twitter! And do an @reply to me (To @mizwrite) and say hello! Tell me if you’ve met anyone interesting!