I tell you that so you're forewarned, and you won't be expecting more in-depth (you know...expert!) advice. You'll find some of that here and here. For everyone else, grab a hot chocolate, open that bag of cookies, and let's talk twitter
For those who are used to FB or browsing through blogs, the twitter structure can feel a little out of control. This is because content isn't something you hop around to read, or click on to see, it flows past you in a constant stream that can sometimes feel more like a waterfall. You're also more aware of all the many Strangers using twitter, who follow you or favorite a tweet without your having any idea who they are.
For that reason, I've chosen this pic to illustrate how tweeting feels. As you can see...I'm not exactly in charge of this situation. The little bird up top is about to make a nest in my hair, the bright one with his head down is wondering if he should crawl down my shirt (for real!) and the jaunty fellow with the black head will be cleaning my teeth in two seconds. In the flock hirearchy, I think I come in a little after fifth place for Person in Charge!
But, there are ways to organize twitter so it feels both more useful and less like you're standing in the middle of a crowded street while everyone around you waves a newspaper, printed sign, or megaphone and shouts as loud as they can. These are my tips:
- Right from the start, follow a few cool peeps. I'm not talking about celebrities here, or even your cooler friends--though of course your friends are a good idea--I'm suggesting first thing after signing up, you select a few people who are cool, funny, and talking about stuff you're interested in. @Neilhimself (Neil Gaiman) and @MrSchuReads (John Schu) are good first picks for writers. Follow your chosen person, then follow a few people who interact with him/her in an interesting way. This will put a few people in your twitter feed that are actually saying stuff (some friends you find aren’t fully present…if you know what I mean), and moreover, it will mean your ‘discover’ tab starts to fill up with stuff relevant to you. From there, you’ll interact with other peeps that you find amusing or interesting, and follow at will.
- Take a page from Santa and make a list. This doesn’t have to be public (in case you title it ‘interesting people I actually care about hearing from’) but you will thank yourself in a month or two when you’ve got all kinds of nonsense filling up your feed and are missing anything and everything your friends say. Especially since it's a good idea to follow back anyone who follows you, unless you've got some *good reason not to.
- Be like a bird...or, okay, more like a bee, and cross pollinate. When you see cool stuff on FB that hasn’t shown up in your twitter feed, drop a like on the facebook sharer (that’s just common courtesy) then follow the Cool Thing back to its source and click the little share on twitter button. Do the same for articles or other interesting stuff you see on twitter. Like a little bee, you’ll buzz further by cross-pollinating.
- Be clear--even when you're hashing it out. When you want to share a hashtag that’s more than two words, consider capitalizing the first letter of each new word, like this: #HiMyNameIsDork This may disappoint followers who came to twitter with the hope of gaining a pair of crossed-eyes and boosting their word search skills, but the rest of them will thank you.
- Keep an eye on your 'connect' or 'notifications' tab. One of the few cardinal rules of twitter is that if someone interacts with you, acknowledge them and interact back. Once you have--idk, 5k followers? Maybe you can ignore the rule. Until then, even if it takes you a week, favorite their comment or drop a reply. Cause ignoring your twitter peeps is for the birds!