That Twittery Thingy

Sometimes I forget that not everyone is an expert.

I cant believe I turned down that Twitter logo job for this.

"I can't believe I turned down that Twitter logo job for this."

At those times I need to slow down or even rewind to let beginners and novices catch up.  That can happen a lot in social media consulting.  I’ll be presenting at a meeting and talking about SEO, API or Facebook Connect and I’ll watch my audience’s eyes glaze over with confusion.

That’s a wake-up call.  Most people don’t know what “lifestreaming” is or have heard of Foursquare.

And one social networking site that continues to confound and fascinate people is Twitter.  Most people have heard of it – and understand the basics of microblogging (very short posts!).  But most people still don’t understand it’s power – or why Twitter continues to be so successful.

Here is the most important insight to remember about Twitter:

Each “tweet” (the 140-character posting) – every single one of them – is an individual web page with a unique URL (or web address).

This is one of the primary reasons why Twitter is so powerful.  Users can quickly create a deep history of web pages – and if you tweet about the same topics and brands repeatedly – you will create a search engine optimization powerhouse.  This is why Twitter accounts often appear so high in search results on Google and Yahoo.

Here are some quick tips on getting started with Twitter:

  • Personalize your Twitter account.  Most people don’t want to follow someone who isn’t transparent about who they are.  Use your real name.  Add a photograph of yourself.  Add your location and, of course, fill out the biography section to tell people about the topics that interest you.
  • Don’t let the Twitter command of “What are you doing?” be your prime directive.  You’ll end up posting about lunch or travel – things that really don’t interest people outside of your immediate circle of friends and families.  Twitter really should be asking: “What is capturing your attention?”  Think about sharing what interests you – news stories, blog posts, photographs and videos.
  • Don’t be alarmed by the term “follower.”  It may sound like you’re developing a group of cult-like acolytes, but, in fact, these are just people you know or people who saw some of your “tweets” and found them interesting enough to subscribe to your Twitter stream.  In other words, congratulations – you’ve managed to convince a group of people that you’re interesting!
  • Don’t always “tweet” about yourself.  If you use Twitter primarily as a tool to promote yourself or your business you’ll find that you attract fewer followers and bore those who are following you.  Instead try to post items that really do interest you.  That will probably include blog posts your wrote or news about your company, but don’t make it the exclusive province of your Twitter channel.
  • Talking with strangers is okay.  Don’t be alarmed if someone you don’t know responds to what you have written.  Respond back!  You’ll even get a few direct messages (personal and private messages not unlike an email message – just really short) from people you don’t know.  Twitter is one big ongoing conversation.  Like a cocktail party.  Mingle.  Talk with everyone.
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