I have seen quite a few posts over the past few years (mostly on Facebook but some on G+ and Linkedin and even Twitter) about how no one “GET’S” Twitter. Finally I decided to make this little quick guide to more than you really wanted to know in response to your purely rhetorical statement.
Let’s start with the feed. here you’ll see Tweets, messages of 140 characters or less. This varies somewhat since it depends on what software you use to embed links and photos. Some apps have more or less characters required by the link or photo. In general anyone can see whatever is on the feed. All day. Every day. When you first get on you’ll feel like a totally random tumble of miscellaneous self-promotional gobbledy-gook. This is pretty accurate for an off-the-cuff assessment. Don’t really expect too much else to be going on here.
By following accounts you get to restrict your own feed to only the people you follow. That cuts out a lot of nonsense. Or not, as the case may be. Maybe the most important thing to do now is find all your favorite celebrities and follow them all. For most normal people that’s about all there is here. There are fake and real celebrity accounts, and if the celebrity thought it was important they could have paid Twitter to verify their ID and then they get to have a little official checkmark by their name like this one:
Keep in mind though that you are capped at about 2000 people to follow unless you somehow manage to get a bunch of other people to follow you. Like about 2000. There are ways to get past that cap, but unless you really have a reason for people to follow you, don’t sweat it. Just keep it down to your most favoritest 1950 or so celebs.
You get to put up a little bio-blurb in your profile. The more important you think you are, the less sense this can make. It’s expected so don’t worry about it. Haiku, special symbols, encrypted messages. It’s all good. You can also put up a profile picture of yourself or someone who looks a lot better that you got off of Google Image Search. It’s also acceptable to use pics of your hamster, cutlery, whatever. Again, it’s all good.
At this point for most people you’re pretty much done.
If you’re an exhibitionist you can set your Facebook, Intagram, and/or Linkedin to all sync and post all over each other so that you can make sure that all six of your family, friends, and followers have the opportunity to see all your stuff.
If someone follows you that means they can see your stuff in a convenient manner. You don’t have to follow them back, but if you do, it comes out of your 2000 limit. If you follow them back you get to see their stuff conveniently. That also means they get to send you a private Tweet known as a DM or Direct Message. For the most part just delete them without reading them. Most of them are links to Russian Spyware or Porn Sites. Unless that’s your thing, of course.
Keep in mind that for the most part only the very curious, or those with some actual reason to, will see any of your Tweets. Go watch the feed for a bit. Several thousand Tweets a minute. Yours is one of them. But if you want to rage against the void, then go for it.
The limit, again, is 140 characters, but if for some wacked reason you think anyone will share your Tweet, known as a Retweet or RT for short, you should keep it down to 120 characters or less. There is a little bit of overhead for citing the source of the Tweet and your Tweet will be truncated automatically. So if you think it’s important keep it down to 120 characters.
If you are using software that Twitter owns you can add in photos, which will be visible in the Feed. If you’re not using Twitter owned software it will be shown as a link to another website. Again, this will all come out of your 140 character limit. In the above screenshot they’re using Twitter for the pic. Below is Instagram (owned by FB).
Seriously. Do you think anyone over 15 cares? You can set up a search for hashtags and follow that feed, which will also show you the feeds of people you don’t follow. I know of absolutely not one person who has ever typed in one out of morbid curiosity, let alone for a serious reason. Even Maytag doesn’t stare at a search for: #MyMaytagBrokeAndFloodedMyBasementDrowningMyHamstersAndMyBasementStinks
I mean, that’s the logical use for them, right? If you’re trying to sell something then sure, waste some of your 140 characters on stuff like #FREE #EBOOK #KINDLE #SOCIAL #PUBLISHING but it’s generally considered rude (unless you’re under 15) to use more than three in any one Tweet.
Doing Business on Twitter
The sad truth is you are totally backwards in your thinking. You don’t need your friends and fellow business people to follow you. They’ll never buy anything. You need your customers to follow you. They’ll maybe see your Tweets and maybe respond with a credit card. Maybe. So do that now before you go any further with this. Have your current and potential customers follow you. I think I’ll give you a month to get over 2000 of them following you and then I’ll write part two.
If you’re all matchy-matchy and follow each other then you get to send them DM spam that they’ll just delete because it looks like Russian Spam. Below is an example of a DM you can safely ignore.
I once accidentally followed a regional restaurant whose social media manager had read all the “provide extra value” articles and decided to tweet links and pics to recipes. All day. In an autoscheduler. Set to send them at one minute intervals. Thousands of recipes all day every day every minute on the minute. I stopped following them after about an hour.
So anyway, there you have it, a quick and simple guide to Twitter for the generally clueless. If you want serious help with your own Twitter business I have to share with you now that probably 2/3 of my book sales were attributable to Twitter. Just sayin’
Let me know …