Twitter Training – Getting started with Twitter Twitter is just another example of the light speed at which communications are catapulting forward, and corporate America (as well as home business online marketers) should do our best to keep up. Social Radar, a research group reporting on activity and trends in social media, ranked Twitter number one in June 2009. Close on their heads were iPhone, Google and Facebook. Yes my friends, there were more "tweets" (140 character changes on Twitter) than there were searches on Google.
Let's start with the basics. What is Twitter? Twitter is a text only platform that launches discussion and banter with a basic question, "What are you doing?" The answers must be 140 characters or less and are sent via the web, mobile texting, instant message and or a variety of applications.
Because Twitter combines elements from many applications in the digital world, many say it was the logical extension of what had developed electronically thus far. For example, Twitter uses some of the elements of instant messaging (IM), some of chat rooms, some of blogs, and of course, it is actually a member of the entire social networking family of sites. It's like a chat room in that it is an open forum, like instant messaging in that tweets are bite-sized core thoughts, like a blog in that it allows for moment to moment updates with people of your choosing, like a website in that profiles Can (and should) convey a specific "feel" and or character, and certainly a social networking site enabling fun or passionate communication either continuously, or in whatever timeframe fits each user.
But what is it really? Depends on who you ask. To some, Twitter is a fun escape from the doldrums of the job, home life or commute; To some it is a way to feel close to friends, family and associates (divided by schedules or geography); To some it's an instant communication and information distribution device; And most importantly to home business professionals like you, Twitter is the one of the most powerful, real time marketing system now in play.
But, before we go any further, get it out of your head that Twitter is mysterious and complicated. It's just a communication vehicle that allows people and companies to deliver bite-sized messages … in 140 characters or less. And where all the people are – is where those who are running a business from home need to be too.
But, you ask – is not Twitter just a big waste of time? Well, yes and no. Is TV a waste of time? Is listening to radio a waste of time? What about surfing the web, flipping through a newspaper, reading email, talking on Skype, checking Facebook or cable news? The answer to all of the above is – yes … sometimes – and sometimes not. Like all media, people can choose what they want from Twitter. All media can be engaged for fun, relaxation, education, major announcements, public relations and access to breaking news. It does not matter what peoples' intentions are. All you need to remember is that millions of people live on Twitter, giving you millions of opportunities to reach them !!
Unlike traditional media however, Twitter can also be used for advice, personal branding, feedback, directions, self or business promotion and marketing.
So, let's get started. It's simple. Just go to twitter.com. This homepage is laid out very clear. Click the green button on the left which says "join the conversation." At the top of the next page, you'll see "create a free Twitter account." Fill in the required info here. Select a user name (you can not have the word "twitter" in your user name), create a password and add an email address. Then type in the bothered text exactly as you see it in the "Captcha" box, and click "I accept – create my account."
Immediately you are taken to a page that already has you email address filled in – and requests for your password. If you type in your password, the system automatically sends a message to everyone in your contact list inviting them to follow you on Twitter. If you want every single person in your system to receive this email, then fill in your password and allow Twitter's automatic email invitation to run. This can take a few minutes. If you DO NOT want to send an invitation to everyone in your contact list, do NOT fill in your password! Just go to the top right and click "skip". People who have both business and personal contacts in their computer may not want one group or the other to be included. You can always have one Twitter account for personal use, and one for business.
After the invitation has run, or you have clicked on "skip," you are taken to your new Twitter homepage! At the top of the page is a box with a live curser that poses the ultimate Twitter question – "What are you doing?" Type in a bite-sized update (remember, 14 characters or less) about yourself and hit "update." You've just completed your first tweet!
Now it's time to find some people to follow. For home businesses and online marketers, we suggest you begin to "follow" everyone currently in your business. You can find them by typing their name or their email address into the search bar. When you find them (be careful – often there are multiple people with the exact same name!), Click "follow". Normally, those who you select to follow will follow you in return.
A good way to expand your following is to check out Twitter account of others you know – or people people who tweets you find interesting. Check out their followers. When you mouse over their name, a brief bio or description comes up. If you like it, begin following them. Chances are, the people they are following will be like-minded. Next, check out some groups and search for individuals who may be good prospects.
Another way to find people you may want to follow is to visit search.twitter.com. This is actually a Twitter site, but it provides more options for finding people. When you get to this site's homepage, click on "advanced search," and quite a few options come up that are pretty self explanatory. Similar to how you can add information in a Google search by adding the plus sign (+), you can fill in more than one of the search fields for more specific results.
Remember, with Twitter, you are always in complete control of who you communicate with, when you receive updates from people you've chosen, and on what device all of this info arrives. You can turn Twitter off for a big meeting or private dinner for example.
Before you can accelerate you business using the Twitter platform, you need to use it a little and get a feel for how it works, what kind of tweets you like, and some Twitter etiquette. This can happen pretty fast though, so dive in and get started.