To Tweet or not to Tweet?

November 2, 2009 at 4:43 pm 4 comments

Is it really even a question for PR folks anymore? Probably not.

However, there are plenty of beginners and lay-people who have never used twitter before, or at least aren’t using it correctly. I will admit, at first I misunderstood twitter. I wasn’t using it right and fell off the bandwagon shortly after I had started tweeting. But I decided to do a little digging of my own and self-taught myself how to use it.

Develop a following

Think of them as your audience. As the VP of a Michigan PR firm I visited in the recent past said: “Otherwise, you’re just talking to yourself.”

“But how do I do that?” you ask.

Start following people who have the same interests/ aspirations/ hobbies/ etc as you. You can also look at who they are following and follow them if you find their tweets interesting. Type in keywords to search bars and see who comes up. (WARNING: Do not mass follow people or follow people who have no relevance to your life; it’s deemed rude in proper twitter etiquette.) However, following does nothing if you don’t take the next step.

Initiate conversation

“Twitter is a conversation,” is the best description I have found so far about how to utilize your time on twitter. It’s meant to facilitate conversation between you and people you follow. If you watch tweets without engaging in the conversation, then you’re just a spectator instead of being in the game! If you still have trouble with the whole “tweeting” scenario, think of it in terms of text messaging: you get 140 characters to say what you want to say.

“But why would I tweet someone I’ve never met before?” you ask.

Use twitter as an icebreaker

Most people think there is too much risk on facebook since pictures, posts, etc can be viewed by friends (don’t be naive enough to think facebook is totally secure: there are ways around privacy settings). Trying to friend someone on facebook before they know of you will probably lead to a rejection. This is where twitter comes in. “Following” someone doesn’t seem like coming on too strong. If you see tweets on your twitter feed that pique your interest, reply and give your 2 cents. The worst that can happen is that they ignore you and don’t tweet back: nothing gained, but also nothing lost.

Basics of twitter

Profile Picture: a must if you want anyone to follow you. it let’s people know you’re a living-breathing human.

Background: twitter offers a variety of simple yet pleasant backgrounds, but there are other sites that have more intricate backgrounds. Type in twitter backgrounds in google and see what you find.

Tweets: Type @username followed by what you want to say to that person in order to tweet at him/her. To see who is tweeting at you, click on the @yourusername on the right-hand side

RT: aka “retweet.” It means you’re helping spread the word. Copy and paste someone else’s tweet in your tweet box. Begin it with RT @username followed by the rest of the retweet. It is proper etiquette to give credit where tweeting credit is due, like a citation.

Direct messaging: aka DM. Basically, private tweets. It’s essentially the same as a tweet since it has limited characters (140), but it doesn’t show up on the feed/ wall. I usually use this if the tweet-count goes beyond 3+ tweets.

Hashtag (#): Put the hashtag symbol in front of a key word (ie #keyword) This keeps tabs on your tweet and allows others to see that specific tweet when they search the key word. It also activates it as a link to others who have the same hashtag in their tweet.

Spammers: An annoying reality of social media. However, you can help twitter cut down on spammers by blocking or reporting them. To do this, view your followers and click on the little wheel next to that username. A list should come down that allows you to block or report them, which will remove them from your list.

Lists: A fairly new feature/ tool, lists allow you to create a list and publicly or privately add followers/ following to it. When you click on the list, you will only see tweets made by people on that list. You can also follow other users’ public lists. Private lists do not show up on anybody’s twitter besides your own.

Privacy Settings: You can protect your tweets so only people you approve can see them. To do this, go to settings and click on the box that says “protect my tweets” at the bottom of the account page.

Name/ Location/ Website/ Bio: Type in your real name if you want other tweeters to know you are a real person and not a spammer. Location isn’t necessarily as vital unless you wan to network with people in your area. You can also put you country or state instead of city name if you like to keep your privacy. Add a website: something that is identifiable to you ie personal blog, company website, personal website, facebook or LinkedIn account, etc. Include a few words about yourself in the bio ie your career title, student, etc. Other tweeters will be more likely to follow you back if they know a little bit about who you are.

The neatest thing about twitter

You can tweet with people you would have never even dreamed of meeting beforehand. Talking with professionals, pundits, authors, advice-givers, and likeminded people is available at your fingertips. As a student, the connections I’ve made and the relationships I’ve maintained have been ultimately rewarding — both in a personal and professional sense. Twitter has become an everyday priority for me. After all, it’s not always what you know, but WHO you know.


Entry filed under: Social Media, etc.. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

The last word.. What are you doing?

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michelle Reed  |  November 2, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Nice post!

    And I have to agree, I NEVER thought I would meet the people that I have or go to the places that I have been. Thank you Twitter 🙂

  • 2. steve fox  |  November 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I’m a holdout, but I agree COMPLETELY that this tool makes all the sense in the world for PR professionals (and students).

    Nice post.

  • 3. uberVU - social comments  |  November 3, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mikinzie: “To Tweet or not to Tweet?” A Beginner’s guide

  • 4. Norm  |  November 4, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Is tweeting for everyone or just PR people?


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