I have been on Twitter for close to a year and I thought that I was a late adopter, however, I still hear comments such as ”No, I am not on Twitter”, ”How do you use Twitter?”, ”Why should I use Twitter?” or “I am addicted to Twitter.” In this post, I share some of my thoughts, experiences and tips on how one can use Twitter effectively to add more value to personal and professional life.
When a year back I joined Twitter, I could find a handful of friends who had a sleeping account on Twitter, that is they were on it but not actively using it. I found Twitter very useful right from the beginning.
Three Best Reasons to have Twitter Account:
There were three main reasons for why I found Twitter useful – first, the time when I joined Twitter the Mumbai attacks happened and I could get all the news about Mumbai on Twitter. I really felt more connected to the incident. I was not just a spectator to the event, but I could actively engage with people living in Mumbai and experiencing the incident.
The second great thing was that I was immediately connected with professionals, researchers and academicians engaged in new media research.
Third was that I found myself amidst an active community of bloggers and thinkers. Almost immediately, instead of being an isolated grad student, I became a part of active community with similar interests and professions. In short, I found a whole new world opening before me.
Even in my offline life, I had an immediate effect of joining Twitter. I enjoyed recounting my Twitter experiences to my friends, colleagues and acquaintances about how important Twitter is. Also it became a habit to ask anyone I met, if they were on Twitter. It was almost like instead of asking them their email ID, I felt more comfortable asking them about their Twitter handle. I felt, it was easier to connect through Twitter.
How to Use Twitter?
Now we get to the question of how to use Twitter effectively. Once you sign up for Twitter, you will create your account, here are simple tips that may help you –
Be authentic – I think there is a lot of value in being authentic and your real self if you want to engage with serious and like-minded individuals.
First, use your real name for your twitter account so that when someone is searching for you they can find you. Also use a short and snappy twitter handle but use a part of your real name.
Second, put a good close-up shot of yourself. A simple photo is good but if the photo can show your personality then it is even better. Be very clear about how you want to project your image. Because when you put your picture on Twitter, the whole world can see it even if you protect your updates. So put a nice smiling picture.
Third, give an adequate one-line description of yourself. When writing your description, use words through which you would like to connect with people. For example, I used “mobile phone research” and “youth” because I wanted to connect with people who are interested in these two topics.
Following and followers – The first thing you need to do after joining Twitter is to follow individuals who you think, you will find interesting. First use your email list to identify who is already on Twitter and then follow them or you can go through their follower-list to identify people you may find interesting. In the beginning try and follow few people. You can also use the search options to find people you might want to follow, but who may not be on your email list. But do follow some active users so that you can understand the use of Twitter and what happens on it.
Tweet - Twitter allows you to send out tweets in 140 characters. Use them wisely. If you are using it for professional purpose, try and update more work-related tweets, if you are a blogger, you may want to share your blog posts and get people’s reactions. You can use Twitter to ask questions and even have a good discussion. Even if you are using Twitter for professional purpose, it might be a good idea to intersperse few tweets about your personal life, where are you and what you are doing are important information about you. It helps build your online personality. You can also decide to protect your tweets, so that you can decide who receives your tweets. I think initially that’s not a great idea, but you may differ.
- Retweet – Twitter also allows you to retweet someone else’s tweets which you find interesting or you think may be of interest to your followers. Always acknowledge the person whose tweet you are retweeting.
5. Technology – You can tweet from your cell phone, mobile device or from your computer. If you are a beginner and do not want to spend too much time, you may not want to integrate your mobile device with Twitter. However, if you do, you may want to set aside 10 – 20 min a day to check your tweets. Because it can be very overwhelming in the beginning to check it every time you receive a tweet.
6. Hashtags – Hashtags # have a great significance in twitterville, so use them wisely. When you see a hashtag appearing before a word, it means that there are a few people following that particular subject. You can also do a hashtag search on twitter by using this link - http://search.twitter.com/. It shows some of the trending topics on Twitter. You can use this search even if you are not on Twitter.
Finally, have fun and make the most of your twitter experience. Let me know how you liked my post and if you have anything to add or share. Happy Tweeting!!!
Author: Priyanka Matanhelia is a media studies doctoral candidate and her research is on mobile phone usage amongst North America Indian youth. Her blog is available on http://priyankasblog.com/.