6 Ways to Get On Board with Twitter

by Bakari Chavanu May 15, 2009

I signed onto Twitter over a year ago, maybe longer. But it's only in the last few weeks that I've started getting on board with what I view as an international chatroom site where you can read and exchange thoughts with people you will likely never physically meet anywhere else. But when I first interacted with the site, I just didn't get its purpose. Most users seemed to post or tweet about their personal day-to-days activities or doings. I initially viewed Twitter as consisting of overly self-centered people who thought their personal life was so important and interesting that they needed to share every minute or activity of their day with strangers. But lately I've gotten a better sense of how Twitter can be useful.

If you spend just a small amount of time on Twitter, you can quickly see how addictive it can become. Twitter is evolving as a way to connect with various people discussing all types of topics, issues, and yes personal rants and observations. For good and bad, it's also developing as a commercial entity for marketing, celebrity showcasing, and keeping up with the Twitter trends, such as the recent Oprah/KFC (marketing?) coupon give-a-way. It's clearly a platform that has different purposes for different people. Thus as an avid Internet surfer, I found it hard to resist Twitter's appeal.

So how am I making it work for me as someone still fairly new to using the site? Here's my strategy so far.

1. Contact Searches: First off, I do searches for the people and topics I'm interested in. While it's great to have "followers" on Twitter, to me, the value of Twitter is the people you are following, not who's following you. I do searches for topics and issues I'm interested in, and then I read through profiles of people tweeting about my selected topics and issues. Because I know the picture icons and messages of the Twitter users I'm following will appear on my Twitter homepage on a regular basis, I've become discerning about whom I choose to follow or connect with. If I see several tweets from a user who simply posts about his or her personal doings, then I'm not very interested. I'm not against personal messages. I post my own sometimes. But I don't want to see or read the minute by minute details of someone's personal life. Likewise, I tend not to follow people who use Twitter to repeatedly post the same type of tweet. One guy I started following seemed to post links to everything related the subject of Twitter itself. So, on any given hour, I would see 15 or so tweets by the same guy about the same topic. Some Tweets were often repeated numerous times with no difference in wording. So the key to me for making Twitter interesting is to seek out the people you want to connect with and read their thoughts.

2. Replying to Tweets: I like responding to the tweets of others. Because I view Twitter as a huge international chat room or forum, I look forward to the brief exchanges I have with other Twitter users. With the 140 character limit for each tweet, I don't have to get consumed with reading long posts that are better read in books, articles, or blogs.

3. Multi-tasking and Twitter: I try to multi-task when using Twitter. As I'm writing an article, editing photos, waiting for my kids during karate class, or watching television, I use these times to interact with Twitter. Having a Twitter client application on my iPhone is the best and most convenient way for me to log on and participate. In part two of this article, I will share my experiences with a few Twitter desktop and mobile clients that I'm finding useful.

4. Microblooging: I like tweeting more than blogging. Believe me, I have earnestly tried several times to maintain a blog, both personal and topical. But despite my best efforts, I always come up short. So now I blog with Twitter. Its short, sweet, platform is all I need for publicly sharing my opinions, thoughts, questions, and interests. With the ability to shoot and post links to my iPhone camera photos in Twitter posts, I can also use Twitter as a kind of diary of my activities. Twitter applications like Twitterrific (discussed more in part 2 of this article) makes posting iPhone photos to sites like Twitpic.com seriously easy.

5. Home Page Design: I recently customized my Twitter home page using some of my clients's wedding photos. It's not the best design, but I'm grappling with whether or not I should even try using Twitter to market my services. When I do a local search of Twitter members in my area, I don't see any of them writing about services and products they're checking out. It's mainly young people talking about their local activities. So I'm not sure how important it is to design my homepage based on my business. However, it's great to have a customized page rather than a generic one. I think customizing your homepage is a lot more personal and creative.

6. Twitter as a Marketing Tool: Continuing the previous point about marketing. Twitter is evolving into a dedicated marketing tool for many companies, organization, and professional bloggers. I'm only following a couple of hundred Twitter members, but I tend to shy away from national companies on Twitter. I do follow organizations like the National Association for Photoshop Users and a few software developers. But overall, I don't want to get endless corporate or business links about products and services. I rather for them show on my Twitter radar by way of members people like myself sharing their actual experiences with products and services that might be of interests to me.

So the above is my strategy for using Twitter so far. I'm no Twitter pro. I don't have thousands of followers, and I only follow a few celebrities. I'm just a 51 year-old Mac users who wishes he had something like Twitter during his college days.

Next week, I'll share a few Twitter related applications that work for me.

See you on Twitter. Post your Twitter username below and we can all start following each other!


  • Just “followed” you.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 19, 2009 Posts: 2220
  • Page 1 of 1 pages
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