I often see users on Twitter who have set up accounts and abandoned them right away. You can tell which ones they are. They may have taken the time to fill out a profile and upload a photo. They may have even uploaded a background. Chances are they set up an account and maybe found a few friends to follow, but they didn’t see much activity and didn’t know what to talk about so they gave up.
When I started Twitter four years ago it was a lot tougher to get started. You had to find the tabs you needed to set up your profile and then you had to go searching for people you knew. The search was not all that dynamic either.
Now, Twitter has a great wizard of sorts that walks you through the steps to create your profile, find people to follow and to start tweeting. Still, if you haven’t found a lot of people of interest to follow, it’s not a ton of fun.
Here’s how to get started with a full feed right away so you don’t get bored and bail out.
1. Follow the Twitter wizard – When you set up your account it will walk you through the steps and suggest some followers based on the keywords in your profile and your location. As you click to follow some of these tweeps (that’s what a Twitter user is affectionately called) more will be suggested.
2. Find Friends from your contact list – The Twitter navigation bar includes a “#Discover” section. In this section you’ll find several other useful tools. Find Friends searches your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or other internet email contacts to find your friends on Twitter.
3. Use the Who to Follow suggestions – Also under #Discover, Who to Follow suggests users based on others that you have chosen to follow (and some other mysterious features in the algorithm.) The feature is nice because it lists the uers and displays their profile in an easily-readable and scrollable list. You can decide at-a-glance who you want to follow without having to click. Find friends and Who to Follow both feature a search field to search for users by name. If you know someone is on Twitter you can search for their name here.
4. Browse Categories – This section suggests users in various categories like music, sports, news, entertainment, technology and more. You can use the search box in this section to find other specific interests or industries you want to follow, such as Lady Gaga, Real Estate, Energy, Knitting – you name it!
5. Follow local news – The local news media are a great way to find value right away on Twitter. News is generally posted on Twitter as soon as it’s posted on the news sites. It’s listed one article at a time with the headline so you know whether you’re interested in clicking on the link and reading it. I prefer to get my news this way rather than reading a newspaper in one sitting or even getting on the newspaper website and scrolling through the various articles and ads.
6. Find other local Tweeps – Use the user or categories search fields to find news media and other local organizations in your community. Just enter “Cedar Rapids” or whatever community you’re interesed in. You’ll find news media, city services, sports teams, and other users who have used the communtiy name in their profile or identified it as their location.
7. Look at the users that those you follow follow – As an example,if you’re in the Real Estate business, you will likely follow other realtors. Look at their followers and you’ll likely discover some Real Estate publications, industry associations or other users that will be of interest to you. You can also see lists that these users may have set up. You can follow one of their lists and save a lot of time connecting to each individual tweep.
When you first start following people many will follow you back. It’s sort of a courtesy on Twitter, although it’s not hard and fast. Unless you have disabled email notices you’ll get a notice everytime someone follows you. While you’re building your list, you’ll be getting a lot of messages. I encourage you not to turn this off. The stream of followers will slow down eventually and you want to know when someone follows you that is a good friend, or business prospect. And, unless and until you discover a social media management tool that’s right for you, you’ll want to be notified when someone favorites one of your tweets, mentions you in one of their tweets, when someone sends you a direct message or when one of your tweets is retweeted.
Twitter is great fun to use and useful in staying up-to-date with goings-on in your community. In another post I’ll help you manage your time on Twitter so you can stay in touch without wasting hours reviewing tweets.
Now go find your password and get to Tweeting!