Twitter is a fantastic social networking platform, and truly one of the easiest, simplest websites to use. It’s so simple, in fact, Twitter’s user interface is dominated by a single text box with just a single question: “What are you doing?” While it may be easy to open a Twitter account and get started, it can be a little more difficult to understand how to use Twitter to its fullest. For both businesses and individuals who want to make the most of Twitter, here are a few simple guidelines to follow:
1). Twitter is about conversation. Some Twitter newbies (or spammers!) use their updates to spout nonstop information about themselves. Much like a cocktail party, Twitter is more fun when you join a conversation Make liberal use of “@” replies to direct messages to users and don’t forget to respond others’ updates.
2). Everyone is an expert on something. What is that you’re an expert on? Use the search feature to find a conversation related to your interests and talent.
3). Ask questions. The best way to spark discussion? Use the status box to ask for opinions, advice or to learn from others. Drawing on a network as large as Twitter, you’re bound to find someone with something to say.
4). Use local search. One complaint that is common among small businesses on Twitter: “How can I find users in my area?” It’s an easy concern to address. To run a local search, just enter terms you find relevant and add the operator “near:” before your city. For instance, to find fashion addicts in New York City, you could search “fashion near: NYC” Zip codes work too!
5). Watch trending topics. That scrolling information on the Twitter homepage is called trending topics, and it’s an easy way to see which conversations are most popular on Twitter at any time.
6). Choose who you follow carefully. While it’s important to “follow” updates from users you find interesting, don’t add too many people unless you’re a serious power user. Following too many Twitter accounts will make it tough to spot updates from any one user, and might make you look like an automated, or spam account.
7). Check frequently for spam. Don’t let spammers follow you. If you see a suspicious account following you on Twitter, you can block them and report their account.
8). Make generous use of retweets. When you retweet a post, you’re distributing someone else’s status (with attribution) to your followers, and it can make a Twitter user’s day!
9). Give more than take. It’s rude to monopolize a conversation with constant updates. Share to contribute, not just to hear yourself talk.
10). Automate wisely. It’s sometimes useful to use third-party tools to manage your Twitter account, but beware of spammy programs that can remove the human touch from your updates.
While at first it might be hard to see Twitter’s value, once you’ve got the hang of updates and etiquette, you’ll find conversations that really matter to you. Don’t forget, Twitter, like all social media, is about sharing: to entertain, inform and make new connections.