Social Media Tips and Tricks: Twitter Basics

Social-media-for-public-relations1Navigating through the various social media channels can be extremely daunting, especially if you aren’t very familiar with them or aren’t a regular user. Social Media Tips and Tricks is a new informational feature to give you the tools you need to dive into the digital crowd with enough confidence to make you feel king of the jungle. Well, not really, but definitely more confidence.
This week, we’ll start with Twitter, one of the most popular social media outlets available. These days, any and everyone has a twitter, from celebrities to businesses to your grandmother’s goldfish. The problem is, not everyone knows have to utilize it to its full potential.  Bottom line: Twitter can be your BFF if you know how to properly utilize its features.
So strap in, because I’m taking you to school, kids. Here are my five tips to get you tweeting right:

1. Decide on Your Online Persona and Voice

When you’re embarking on bringing your brand to social media, you have to think about how you want to appear to others. As much as we’d like to think people are the same In Real Life as they are online, it’s not so simple nor is it practical. The boom of the internet has given people the opportunity to be more vocal, opinionated and candid with their ideas. This is often a blessing due to the increase in conversation on topics that are usually taboo in person, but also a curse because with online communication, many lose their natural filter./wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Screen-Shot-2014-05-07-at-4.24.11-PM.png
Saying the wrong thing on twitter is one of the first mistakes people make. And unlike Real Life where people are often more forgiving of shortcomings, the internet is forever. Did you say something embarrassing on Twitter and decide to erase your tweet a few minutes after it’s been posted? At least three people now have it screencapped and it’s what people will remember you by.
This is neither good for outward appearances, nor good for business. Regardless of how things may seem, first impressions on the internet is even more important than face to face interactions. You have to think carefully how you want to be portrayed and received. Luckily, you can edit your words before the world sees it online. My advice: think before you post.
So what do you want your online voice to say about you and your brand? Is your voice going to be humorous, informative, serious, peppy? Maybe you want people to think of Batman’s voice when they read your tweets? Whatever you decide, the key is to be interesting, engaging and not boring. It’s extremely easy for users to stop reading and scroll past your content. Don’t give them that opportunity! Your job is to be so fresh and interesting that they’ll want to follow you.

2. The Importance of your avatar and header

A lot of people make the mistake of not thinking strategically about their avatar. Think about this for a second. It’s the first thing besides your username that another twitter user will see. It’s what people will refer to you as in their head. What kind of impression will it make? Your goal is to make it a lasting one, something memorable that fits the tone of you digital persona.
For example, if your brand is selling women’s purses, it’s probably not a good idea to have an avatar as Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony. And if you don’t know who Twilight Sparkle is, well, welcome to the Internet. Your avatar is a direct representation of you and should therefore be your brand’s logo or an image of yourself if YOU are your brand (i.e. celebrities). 
Then we have the banner. In April of 2013, Twitter introduced its new layout for profiles. Some people were a little put off because it does favor Facebook’s layout, however, it allows for a more visual experience and another way for you to market yourself, which is never a bad thing.
What should you add as your header? In short, the rules are similar to that of your avatar — it has to be something that perfectly reflects the brand you are trying to build, but here are a few key points to consider:

  • The header space is 1500×500 pixels
  • Always use a high resolution image
  • Images smaller than 1500×500 will appear stretched and low quality

That being said, check out these great headers from President Obama, The Baltimore Orioles, and HGTV:
If you’re looking for a header for a personal twitter account, you can download a free one from the internet too!

3. Follow the Leader

Once you’ve decided on your voice, avatar and username, it’s time to start interacting with others. Don’t be intimidated by the various conversations you might see. The beauty of twitter is that everything is completely public, allowing everyone to jump into any conversation.
Start following people who share your interests or area of business. The easiest way to find the right niche is to get involved in the online community and find the influential leaders. These are going to be the people who have a good amount of followers and who have very active twitter accounts.
I know what you’re thinking. “How do I find these magical people?!” Don’t worry! They aren’t mystical unicorns and are pretty easy to track down.  But first, let me introduce you to the amazing tool that is the search box.

The little gray box in your top right corner, is your new best friend. Type a search term and you can find relevant tweets and influential people who tweet about. Let’s look at this a little closer.
If I were searching for people to follow that were influential on social media topics, I’d type it in the search box and twitter will give be a few different options:

Twitter gives me a nice list of users and search terms to select from, but for this tutorial, I selected the first option. One the next page it gives loads of tweets that are either using the #socialmedia hashtag or any that have mentioned it at all in their tweet or profile. (BTW, always use hashtags on your own tweets so people can also find you!) For profiles, it gives you a few different options that may look something like so:
Twitter isn’t the only way to find influential people. Googling is a great way to find posts that give lists of who’s who and who you should be following. A quick Google search with “who should I follow social media bloggers” yielded a great blog post listing 30 Social Media & Blogger Influencers You Should Follow. Visit blogs and engage with them and their community on twitter. You’ll start to notice familiar profiles, and if you engage enough, they might even follow you back.

4. Don’t Spam

The worst thing you can do on Twitter is spam everyone with the same content. Not only will this isolate you, but it’s against Twitter’s TOS and can lead to account termination. Remember, the goal is to be interesting and creative. You have to engage people in order for them to take an interest in you. Spamming them is counterproductive to your cause and, most importantly, annoying.
Some common forms of spam according to Twitter are:

  • Tweeting the same tweet to multiple users
  • Asking users to follow you back
  • Mass following with subsequent mass unfollowing
  • ​Posting unrelated links


5. Tweet Often

Computer KeyboardIf a tree falls down in a middle of a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, yes, but no one was around so, it’s a moot point. It’s the same principal with tweeting once or not often enough. Consistent tweeting and continuous engagement with your audience improves your brand’s visibility and encourages more people to visit your website. Social Media isn’t something you can start and then forget about. Just like a brand, it requires tending and attention to thrive. It’s science, people. Science.
How much should you tweet? The simple answer is everyday. When should you tweet? This may vary, but I’ve found the best time to tweet is between 10am-2pm EST and 7pm-12am EST. (Social Times has a great infographic that breaks down each social media outlet and the best times to post. It’s definitely worth a read.) If you’ve found your audience and niche, talk about the common interest that you share. The goal is to find a creative way to stay in touch even if it’s a simple “good morning.”
Twitter is probably one of my favorite social media outlets. It’s allows you to connect with others from anywhere in the world, find the right audience for your brand, engage with people who are just as passionate about your field as you and increase your brand’s awareness. All it takes is a little time, dedication and patience to see results.