Wednesday, January 21, 2009

12 Tips for New Twitter Users

I’ve been using Twitter for a while, and I thought I’d pass along a set of tips that have helped me get more out of it.  Hopefully you’ll find these useful, and if you have additional tips to share, please post comments.

1. Find other people who are talking about things you’re interested inTweetscan lets you search tweets for keywords.  It’s a great way to see who else is talking about topics you’re interested in and to find new people to follow.  You can also set up RSS feeds for your keyword searches!

2. Mr. Tweet – Mr. Tweet will analyze your friends and followers and suggest new people you should be following.  It’s growing quickly and analysis can take a couple of weeks, but it’s well worth joining.  Sign up at

3. Focus your tweets to your goals – Think about what you’re really trying to get out of Twitter?  If you’re just looking for someone to chat with, feel free to tweet about your cat, what you’re having for dinner, that jerk in front of you in the checkout line, etc.  You’ll probably bore your friends to death, but go ahead.  On the other hand, if you’re trying to build up a social network around a particular topic or concern, keep your tweets (mostly) related to that topic.  Chances are you’ll end up having more meaningful conversations with other people who care about the topic, and your signal-to-noise ratio will be much higher.

4. Accept replies from non-followers – I’m still surprised this isn’t on by default in Twitter, but it’s critical if you want to grow your network.  With this option turned off, you won’t see tweets from non-followers who randomly reply to you (e.g. if they found you through Tweetscan).  To enable it, go to the settings page in your Twitter profile, and on the Notices tab, select “Show me all @ replies”.

5. Advertise your Twitter account on your blog – Help your blog readers find you by putting a link to your Twitter account at the top of your blog near your RSS feed link.

6. Tweet your blog posts – When you post to your blog, let your community know by tweeting a link to the story.  It’s a great way to drive traffic to your site.

7. Stay connected – If you have a mobile phone with a data plan, consider installing a Twitter client such as TinyTwitter (for Windows Mobile) so you can stay connected to your community while on the go.  If you go for long periods without tweeting, your community will likely stop following you.  Install a desktop client like Twhirl or Tweetdeck to stay connected from your PC – they usually provide much richer interfaces than the website.

8. Retweet great tweets from your friends – When you see an interesting tweet from a friend, pass it along by “retweeting”.  This shows your friends you care and helps spread the word.

9. Shrink URLs – Use a service like TinyUrl to shrink your URLs to fit within the 140 character limit.

10. Share photos with Twitpic – Many Twitter clients have tight integration with Twitpic – a photo sharing service.  Just specify your Twitter account, point to a photo, and you can tweet it easily.  This is a great way to tweet live events in realtime from mobile phones, for example. 

11. Grade yourselfTwitterGrader will analyze your friends and followers and your tweeting habits and assign you a grade from 0 to 100.  You can also use it to find other “top tweeters” in your area.  It’s a fantastic way to connect with other local tweeters!

12. Use a photo in your Twitter profile – Personalize your Twitter profile by uploading a photo.  It doesn’t have to be a photo of you, but make it something that represents who you are.  Feel free to update it from time to time to keep your persona fresh.