A Guide for the Twitter Virgin

What is Twitter?

It is a micro blogging (web log) site that allows no more than 140 characters per post, or “tweet” (about two short sentences). Twitter says it is: “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” As a Twitter user you can post up-dates, follow and view updates from other users (this is akin to subscribing to a blog’s RSS feed), and send a public reply or private direct message to connect with another Twitterer. Twitter pages even look much like a blog page.

Though users can answer the prompt, “What are you doing?”, tweets have evolved to more than everyday experiences, and take the shape of shared links to interesting content on the web, conversations around hot topics (using hashtags #), photos, videos, music, and, most importantly, real-time accounts from people who are in the midst of a newsworthy event, crisis, or natural disaster.

Where Is Twitter?

Like a recipe, it takes a whole bunch of words to describe what is essentially, very simple to implement. You too will ‘see’ this if you follow along as you do it (in a second window). Show, don’t tell. Just do it as described—AS you read it here– have a second window open so you can implement AS YOU READ!

You can locate TWITTER a www.twitter.com typed into your search engine or browser box. Fill in the basic info (Full Name, Email and password – the one you wish to use for twitter), click on “Sign up” and you are rolling. Welcome page and the twitter teacher will greet you. He says, “This is a Tweet. Tweets are short messages that have up to 140 characters and can contain links like http://twitter.com.” Click “Next”. “Follow Freely”. To get someone’s tweets, click the Follow button. There will be examples. Click on five to ‘follow’. Click Next button.

Now twitter will want you to follow five more and look through or ‘browse’ categories. They are teaching you different methods to find interesting folks to follow. Now they will ask you to add five more using your email account(s). You can skip any of these steps by clicking on ‘skip this step’ bottom left of page.

Okay. Good. Now you are on your spanking new Twitter page. Congrats. You see your name and an egg shaped icon? That is where you can upload a photo of self or image of your choice to represent you. (An “Avatar”) As the business owner/author of you, you will want a close up of you- a “headshot”. People connect with faces from the time they are born. You want people to know and like you. (Not your dog, a waterfall or a miscellaneous object—YOU) People will then associate your brand with a personality–a face–you. Click on your name. It will take you to a page where you can upload an avatar image. Click on the big plus sign where your headshot should/will be. You can upload a photo from your computer or you can skip it (until later–but not much later!) and begin.

Before you start actively using Twitter, you need a strategy, and the first step in developing that strategy is to completely fill out your user profile. One of the goals of having a Twitter account is to gain followers and few people want to follow an account that doesn’t look legitimate (i.e. the profile hasn’t been filled out and there’s no avatar (photo/headshot).

Take a good look at your other websites and profiles and draft a Twitter bio to match the rest of your online branding. This is how people will find you and recognize you now and in the future, so be honest. Don’t brand yourself as an ex-pert unless you already are one. Do brand your-self based on your passions and skill set.

Click on the home but-ton in the gray stripe and you are, uh, ‘home’.

Under your name is a rectangular box that has “Compose a Tweet” in light gray letters. This is where you type your first tweet post. Type in your message. It will indicate how many characters you have used of your 140 allowed, beneath the message box. When satisfied with your tweet click on the ‘tweet’ button beneath your message box. You have ‘tweeted’! Your message is now sent to any and all who are following you. No followers yet? Get busy following interesting folks and send them a message. Click on potential friend’s name. That same mini profile box will open. Next to the blue “Follow” rectangle button is a button with a silhouette and a downward pointing arrow. Click and a pull down menu appears. First item says “Tweet to @name of your friend”. Click and your tweet box appears to compose your private message/tweet to your friend. ‘Great to see you here on twitter. Follow me?’ Good message to send. He will be lured to follow you back. You are growing your follower’s lists. Good for you!

Essentially, Twitter is a shorter and more viral form of blogging, so the same rules still apply. By constantly writing or tweeting about your expertise on a specific topic, you’ll become known for it and people will gravitate to you and follow you. If you already have a blog, then I recommend using Twitterfeed, so you can syndicate your posts on Twitter automatically. The best thing you can do for your brand on Twitter is to take your current interests and activities and establish a feed on Twitter to deliver that con-tent to your audience again and again. Content is king, so it is vital to make sure you produce consistent, quality tweets. Suggest that content NOT be primarily about writing, unless you are focusing on gaining writers for clients (you are a PR/Social Media/ Marketing expert). As an author you want to attract readers. Chose something that will attract them.

What is Retweeting?

It is an integral part of the Twitter experience. The retweet (or “RT”) allows Twitter users to share the best links, tweets, and gems they find from others using the service. But for beginners, it’s not immediately obvious what retweets are, or what tools to use to make retweeting easier. In your list of Tweets (Large list on the right)–run the pointer over the first tweet. A line of options will appear in gray: “Reply”, Retweet, “Favorite”, “Open”. If you wish your followers to share in this tweet, click on “retweet”. If you want to reply to the tweeter, “Reply”. If you click on favorite, it will star that tweet to make it easier to access in future–kind of like using a high-lighter. When you click “open”, a drop down menu of sorts appears where you can see how many tweople (people) have RT’ed (retweeted) this post as well as who and how many have indicated it as a favorite. If you want to make more new friends these are often the tweople you might approach by clicking on their icon/photo which will take you to visit a mini of their page and a ‘follow’ button. On his/her page you can see what he has tweeted (a list), how many tweets he has written, how many followers he has, how many he is following and a blurb writ-ten about him. Click on the upper right corner gray “x” to close this box.

Tweetdeck: Tweetdeck is a very popular application for running Twitter on your desktop. It has many features, but one of its best is its one-click retweeting feature: hovering over a profile picture provides the easy option for retweeting anyone’s tweets, just click the bottom left icon.

It also allows organizational columns to keep the (active) “All Friends” tweet stream separate from where and who mentioned you (“mentions”) from messages sent directly and privately to you (“direct messages”), from any hashtag streams you might wish to follow. Great application.

Twitter is there to converse with people in a short succinct way. How do you find people? Click on the “Who to Follow” local in the bar at the top of your profile page.

What is Twiller speak?

Never read a twiller? Having twissues with your twerminology? Welcome, then, to the abuse of the English language that some call Twitter-speak.

The twick, uh, trick, in most instances, is to take the first two letters of microblogging ser-vice Twitter and meld them, often unwillingly, to the front of your chosen word. These ungainly neologisms are so numerous that they now re-quire at least two sites to track them: Twictionary and Twittonary.

• Twellow: Find people in your industry to follow and connect with using this Twitter yellow pages guide. You can find more Twitter directories here.

• Tweetbeep: Keep track of your brand reputation by getting alerts through email when your brand is mentioned on Twitter. (Akin to a Google search)

• Tweetmeme: A button on your blog that allows readers to more easily retweet your posts.

• Hashdictionary: Keep track of conversations that include hashtags on Twitter.

• Ping.fm: Save time by sending messages to all of your social networks at once.

• Twitter Grader: A site that ranks your influence in the Twitter world based on an algorithm. You can see where you stand in your town, city, state or country, as well.

What is a hashtag (#)?

One of the most complex features of Twitter for new users to understand is the hashtag, a topic with a hash symbol (“#”) at the start to identify it. Twitter hashtags like #followfriday help spread in-formation on Twitter while also helping to organize it.

If everyone agrees to append a certain hashtag to tweets about a topic, it becomes easier to find that topic in search, and more likely the topic will appear in Twitter’s Trending Topics.

Tagalus: Tagalus is a simple dictionary for hashtags. It’s very easy to find information on thousands of hashtags as defined by other users. You can also define (start your own) a hashtag by tweeting tagalus. You can set up a Twilert to get a daily email of the use of a specific hashtag.

Although not terribly complicated, hashtags have some unwritten rules. The primary one to remember: don’t overuse them. If every one of your tweets IS a hashtag, you dilute the usefulness of them by fragmenting the conversation. In addition, many people will shy away from you because it seems spammy.

Another simple tip: give your hashtag context. Most people won’t actually know what your hashtag means, so give a quick explanation in one of your tweets or, if you’re making a hashtag, make it very apparent what it’s talking about.

Finally, if you’re looking to create a hashtag, be sure that it adds value for yourself and your followers. The best way to utilize them is when you need to organize information.

•  Choose a single hashtag early: This may seem simple, but it is vital to get right. Choose a simple hashtag that represents your event or brand. If your event is the Business of the Calling Ducks conference, don’t use #businessofthecallingducks as your tag. How about #bizducks instead? Keep it short and simple!

•  Remind attendees of the hashtag constantly: On your website, on your Twitter feed, at the opening remarks, and throughout the day make a friendly reminder about your hashtag and that you can track the conversation through it.

•  Provide a website widget: For anyone who isn’t using or knowledgeable with Twitter, provide an easy conversation tracker tool on your website. You can make one via Widgetbox or Tweetgrid.

• Tweetlater: Schedule tweets so that they are published automatically in the future. It’s a real time saver.

What is a “TWHOOK”?

Born in December 2011, the “TwHook” is a pro-motional tool

created by an author for authors to be used as an introduction to potential readers of a book, novella or short story. 140 characters or less, (including a minimized link to more information or ‘to buy’) — a ‘high concept’ succinct hook meant to whet the appetite of potential readers, a TwHook is a brief sentence, a bullet of high intensity writing that pulls in a reader to want more. ~

Here are some examples of “TwHooks” for my books published through Muse It Up Publishing:

(Christine London’s Shadows Steal The Light – Contemporary Romantic Suspense)

It’s love at first sight for rocker Colin & jazz singer Jenna excepting– she hates rockers and someone wants him dead http://tinyurl.com/bnwcxr7


(Christine London’s When We Were Amazing – Contemporary Romance)

Tragedy nearly destroys the family wine biz, can the reluctant young heir forfeit his dreams & online love to save it http://tinyurl.com/7tkpd4e


(Christine London’s Hog Wild – Contemporary Erotic Romance)

Will the hard driving, salty tongued mechanic Kyle relies upon to fix his Harley be able to mend his heart, as well? http://bit.ly/tMDRnR


(Christine London’s Reluctant Companions – Contemporary Erotic Romance)

Two lonely people overwhelmed by life…same time, same gorgeous Oahu locale—except they are not alone… http://tinyurl.com/6nbtjk4

Go Forth my Tweople and Tweet/TwHook!

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4 Responses to A Guide for the Twitter Virgin

  1. Boy, Christine, this was really helpful. I was especially interested in the Ping.fin “thing.”
    Would I just google that phrase to find out more?
    I loved your TwHooks! Very clever. Thanks for this. I’ll share. 🙂

    • christinelondon says:

      Here’s an article about Ping and Twitter.

      Thanks for stopping by Marsha. Glad the blog was of help 🙂

  2. Vickey says:

    Thanks so much for the Twitter Primer! I tweet, but did not know most of this, so I’ll be more efficient and effective now.
    I posted a link on my FB page too. (https://www.facebook.com/VickeyKall)

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