January 24, 2011

Not the usual Twitter tips

Last week, Nathan Bransford posted some excellent tips for using Twitter. I thought about skipping the post simply because it seems like, well, everyone has written a Twitter tips post. I'm glad I checked it out though, because he breaks down the Twitter process and provides a couple tips I'd never heard in regard to picking a Twitter handle (the shorter the better!) and @ replies (hint: there are strategic ways to ensure that more or less people see what you're saying).

Of course, I have my own 2¢ ideas about Twitter:

Be yourself.

This can be more difficult than you'd think. For instance, I come off super serious to people who don't know me well, but I actually have a quite silly (think singing and dancing and talking in accents and sometimes even singing in an accent while dancing) sense of humor. That doesn't really come across in my Twitter feed or on my blog.

It's easy to meld into the general snarkability that permeates Twitter (maybe it's the character limit that does it), but I'm not a particularly sarcastic, sardonic, or snarky person, so sometimes I struggle to find ways to be part of the conversation without defaulting to that. However, it is important to be your authentic self, so try, try, try to find a way to show your unique brand of humor, insight, and helpfulness.

Don't follow too many people.

This means don't feel you have to follow every person who follows you. This is probably the most arguable of my tips, but my thought is that, yes, you might gain followers more quickly if you go out and follow a whole bunch of people (and this applies to blog followers, too), but you'll be gaining followers you aren't really interested in following (and vice versa). I'd rather have 100 followers who are honestly interested in what I have to say than have an additional hundred who only followed me because I followed them, or added me because of bloggy politic. Plus, it clogs your Twitter feed with people you don't have a genuine interest in.

Use Tweetdeck*.

*There are lots of third-party Twitter programs, some more useful and legitimate than others. I know Tweetdeck works, which is why I recommend it. This doesn't mean others aren't great, too.

I try to stay away from blogging and tweeting on the weekends, so back when I used Twitter.com to view my account, I'd have to scroll all the way through my feed on Mondays to catch up on what happened while I was offline. Way too time-consuming, and suddenly, Twitter wasn't fun anymore. With Tweetdeck, I'm able to create columns of what I want to see. I have columns for:
  • Everyone I follow
  • People whose tweets I don't want to miss (the member list is private, so there's no politics or hurt feelings)
  • Mentions (anytime someone @'s me, it shows up in this column)
  • Direct messages
  • And a search for my Twitter handle, which picks up when someone mentions 'thetabbycatt' but forgets to @ it. (This happens more often than you might think)

The mention column is the most useful because I can step away from Twitter for the weekend, come back, and know I haven't missed/accidentally ignored anyone talking to me directly. And although the columns are similar to lists on Twitter, having everything laid out across the screen together makes it so much easier to keep up.

And that's not to mention the ease with which you can edit a retweet, upload a picture to your choice of image website, or the fact that Tweetdeck will automatically shorten a long URL to your choice of address-condenser.

Nothing is perfect, and I have noticed occasionally (a few times a week) when I tweet it doesn't go through, especially with direct messages or RTs. However, the benefits significantly outweigh the drawbacks, and using Tweetdeck has greatly enriched and simplified my Twitter experience.

Do you have any great Twitter tips? Tell me in the comments!


Pam Harris said...

I have never used Tweetdeck before, but it sounds awesome! Twitter eats up a lot if my time, but I can't quit it because I love it. :) However, Tweetdeck seems way more efficient. Thanks for the tip!

Sarah Enni said...

Dude, Tweetdeck makes my life. Also I love that Glenna and I are basically dominating your tweetdeck in that picture!

Jamie Grey said...

Great tips! I struggle with being myself on twitter too! Sometimes I just don't feel like I have anything clever to say and everyone else is so funny and smart.

And I totally agree with not following a ton of people or not following everyone who follows you. I do that myself - I find it's better to connect with your fellow tweeps than just trying to get your numbers sky high!

Laura Pauling said...

A lot of Twitter tips can be similar too. Our post titles are very similar! Too funny. Along with query tips - the usual tips are great for beginners but I'd love posts that focus on more advanced advice. Ya know?

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

My twitter tip? Join chats. There are lots of different chats like #kidlitchat and #yalitchat. They chat at specific times each week. It's a great way to meet new people and connect with other people at various stages in the industry.

BTW, Abby, I love that you are a singing, dancing, accent-speaking goof. Me too!

Yahong said...

I agree with the followers tip - I'm relatively new, and only follow about 30 people; but still, my Twitter feed is swamped! Thanks for the insight on this, Abby. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I didn't quite "get" Twitter until I got Tweetdeck. Now I'm loving life--and Twitter. LOL

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