Twitter 101: The 11 Must-Know Guidelines for the Absolute Beginner

Twitter reportedly has 271 million monthly active users and 500 million tweets sent per day. Despite this, I still meet people in my career regularly who don’t “do” Twitter or who sheepishly admit they don’t know much about it. It’s okay. Given the world’s population is 7 billion, clearly you’re not alone.

The thing is, I think Twitter is nearly just as important to a career as LinkedIn. With Twitter, you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry while showing a little more of your personality than is customary on a specifically professional network. You can use Twitter to follow other thought leaders—whether for work, or hobbies, news, pop culture, fashion, and more.

twitter-birdSo if you’re a newbie, and don’t know the first thing about Twitter (and if I’ve sufficiently sold you on it!), here are the bare-bones basics to get you going so that you can advance confidently in getting started.

1. Choose a unique user name. Also commonly known as your Twitter handle, the username is signified with an “@” in front of it.  For example, my Twitter handle is @christinenotes.

2. Follow people in the industry(ies) you’re interested in.

3. When you post a tweet, you only have 140 characters to work with. So choose your words wisely. And it’s best practice to use 120 characters so that others can post a short comment when they retweet.

4. Tweet about themes relevant to that industry so that similar people follow you back and look to you for information in that field.

5. It’s okay to be a “lurker” at first. I apologize for the creepy label used by social media gurus, but I’m here to de-stigmatize it. If you’re a little shy about tweeting at first, it’s okay to observe and get the lay of the land. Follow a bunch of people and organizations that interest you and see what they’re saying. Don’t wait too long, though, to jump into the conversation; after all, that’s what we’re all here for! Let your voice be heard.

6. Use hashtags related to the topics you’re talking about. For example, if I am giving a tip about social media marketing, I’d probably put #socialmedia after it. Or #marketing. That way, other people who search #marketing will see my recent tweets on that topic.

7. Tweet at least once a day when you’re getting started. That will help you gain followers. You can also ask people in your network on Facebook and LinkedIn to follow you on Twitter—give them your Twitter handle to make it easy. Also, put your Twitter handle in your email signature.

8. Need content to share? Post articles you like, which you think would also resonate with your followers. Post articles that will attract more people who you want to become your followers.

9. Show your personality. It’s good to be authentic as you tweet about your industry and interests. It makes you interesting and human.

10. The art of retweeting. You can share posts from other people by hitting the retweet button. Or, to add your own comment to the retweet, use this format to credit the original person who tweeted it: ”Check out this cool info! RT: @christinenotes etc.etc. etc.”

11. MT = Modified Tweet. Use the same guidelines as above, but you can change the original tweet a bit. This is especially handy if you are running out of characters.

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