A Comprehensive Guide to Twitter

Since it’s launch in July of 2006, Twitter has quickly become one of the most popular microblogging platforms online. In fact, Twitter is one of my favorite social media tools and it’s finally being recognized as a powerful platform for communicating with your readers, building your brand, driving traffic to your blog, and communicating with industry leaders. At first glance, it’s easy to miss the power of Twitter. But start digging a little deeper and you’ll start to uncover the hidden gems.

Twitter is essentially a service that allows you to share bite-sized messages (or “tweets”) of up to 140 characters long. These short snapshots give insight into people’s lives – which is part of what makes it so popular.

Twitter allows you to send and receive updates directly on their website or via instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email, or through a wide-variety of third-party applications.

You get to be a “fly on the wall” and tune into interesting conversations from the likes of Robert Scoble, Seth Godin, Kevin Rose, CNN, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, and Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV.

You’ll find the environment on Twitter to be playful and engaging.

It’s a place to network, connect, and communicate. If you’re an Internet marketer, you get to hang out with other marketers. If you’re a golf player, you can connect with other golfers. If you’re a runner, you can meet other runners.

In fact, Twitter is attracting a wide variety of users, including political candidates, actors, students, bloggers, housewives, and more.

So, how do you become a Twit…

1. First, you must begin your Twitter journey by signing up at http://twitter.com. When asked to select a username, be sure to use either your name or your business name.

2. Upload an avatar that reinforces your brand. It needs to be striking yet simple. Logos and photos work well. To get some ideas, browse Twitter profiles for a while and see which avatars stick out to you.

Quick Note: You should use the same avatar on all of the social networks to increase your brands exposure. Many people are active on multiple networks. By using the same avatar, you can leverage your presence on one network to instantly access a group of familiar friends who are active on another.

3. When setting up your account, you will also be asked for your URL. This is a place to share your website, blog, Facebook page, or other social media profile. Another important field you will be asked to fill out is your one line bio. This is where you enter a short description of yourself. Although it must be short, it also needs to be interesting and informative. It’s one of the few indicators people read before deciding whether or not to add you as a friend.

4. And if you really want to stand out from the crowd, you can also customize the look of your Twitter Homepage. Twitter allows you to customize the colors of your profile page and add a background image.

To change your design settings click on the Design link in the Settings menu.

If you’re looking to master Twitter, here are some of the very best resources I found while doing some research for this article…

Mastering Twitter
What is Twitter and Why Does it Keep Following Me Around
Twitter in Plain English
Newbie’s Guide to Twitter
Twitter White Paper by Paul Stamatiou
A Geek’s Guide to Promoting Yourself and Your Online Business in 140 Characters or Less with Twitter
The Big Juicy Twitter Guide
Twitter Cheat Sheet
Twitter: Why It’s So Great And How To Effectively Use It
Twitter Marketing 101
Everything You Ever Need to Know About Twitter
How to Increase Your Twitter Following 438% in 30 Days
What the Web Strategist Should Know About Twitter
Twitter: Ultimate Time Waster or Great Tool
The Tao of Twitter by Ed Dale
How to Use Twitter for Business by Ed Dale

Twitter Uses

People use Twitter for a wide variety of reasons. Some people use Twitter to keep up with friends and family. Some use Twitter to stay on top of the latest news in their industry and keep up with their favorite blogs. Others use Twitter to record the highlights of their day. And some have joined Twitter in order to build their brand and interact with their customers.

There are hundreds of different ways to use Twitter. Here are some of the most popular ones…

Arrange a Meet-Up: Twitter has facilitated many real-life meetings. By announcing your location, you can quickly and easily organize a get together with people in your network. Many people are calling this a “tweet-up”.

Build Your Brand: “Anonymous” business people are being ignored. Personal brands and social equity are becoming more and more important. Twitter allows you to share a more personal side of yourself with your readers.

YOU are your brand and Twitter is a great place to establish your persona – whatever that may be. Quirky and Crazy, Starbucks Addict, or Late Night Insomniac – Be true to yourself and people will love you for it.

Get Valuable Feedback: You can use your followers as a form of “Collective Intelligence”. Get ideas for your next blog post. Ask for suggestions on the best laptop to buy. Get feedback on your latest blog design. The possibilities are endless and the amount of experience and knowledge on Twitter is an incredible resource to tap into. You’ll be surprised at the amount of valuable feedback you receive. Simply ask a question and you can get instant feedback.

Twitter Traffic: Are you wanting to increase the reach of your latest article? Send out a tweet and ask your friends to tweet about it as well. Sites like Twitter have a viral nature built in.

Connect With Others: Twitter is a great place to connect with other like-minded people, especially those in the same industry. Twitter allows you to connect with people you might not otherwise be able to meet. You never know when you might form a deeper relationship with someone.

As said by Jennifer Laycock of SearchEngineGuide.com, Twitter “gives you some insight into who companies and bloggers are as people; their likes, their dislikes, their personalities. This can be invaluable when it comes to putting together pitches and building relationships both inside and outside of your industry.”

Knowledge: Twitter is packed with a bunch of smart people. Hang around for a while and it’s bound to rub off on you.

Find Out Who’s Talking About You: Find out who’s twittering about you, your products, your company, and your website with a service called TweetBeep. Tweet Beep sends you alerts by email whenever someone mentions your name, website, etc.. This is an excellent way to monitor and measure the “buzz factor” of your blog.

Promote Your Social Bookmarking Submissions: If you’ve spent very much time on Twitter, then you’ve probably seen folks asking for help voting up a submission at Digg, Delicious, Sphinn, and StumbleUpon. Twitter can be a great way to promote your social bookmarking stories, just don’t go overboard. Moderation is key.

Stay informed. News breaks fast on Twitter. You can get the latest scoop long before it reaches the mainstream media outlets.

Provide live coverage of an event. Create some buzz by covering an event live on Twitter. BPP producer Ian Chillag twittered the 2008 Boston Marathon while running, updating his progress via his iPhone.

Find a Job: Many companies post job openings on Twitter. Here’s just one example…

@leeodden TopRank hiring PPC specialist and manager – posting job descriptions this aft. Initial inqueries to hr at toprankresults dot com.

Hire Talent: Twitter is an excellent place to look for highly talented people. Best of all, you can get a sense of their personality simply by looking at their previous tweets.

Make a Connection: I’ve been able to uncover lots of interesting tid bits about my fellow bloggers. I found out that Chris Brogan is doing some super cool Twebinars this summer on social media. Chris Pirillo likes Bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers stuffed with goat cheese. And Jennifer Laycock spends two mornings a week working from Panera. Good idea Jen!

If you are looking for even more interesting ideas on how to use Twitter, here are some excellent resources…

18 Super Useful Ways to Use Twitter
101 Everyday Uses for Twitter
5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good
How do You Choose to Use Twitter
Top 10 Twitter Uses
Twitter for Journalists
How to Use Twitter – Tips for Bloggers
Five Reasons Twitter is an Essential Social Media Tool
How to Use Twitter For Networking – Twitworking!
Using Twitter as a Marketing Tool
How to Use Twitter for Marketing
17 Ways You Can Use Twitter
Twitter for Traffic and Talk: Who is Using Twitter and How?
The Top 5 Ways Smart People Use Twitter
Twitter is Paying My Rent
50 Ways for Businesses to Benefit from Twitter
Using Twitter to Build Brand Integrity
Get Into Twitter or Get Outta Public Relations
7 Ways Marketers Can Use Twitter
The 10 Ways I Learned to Use Twitter in 2007
Where is the Value: Connections or Conversations?
9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers
35 Twitter Tips from 35 Twitter Users
Posting and Replying with Images and Links
Tools, Apps, and Bots to Improve Your Twitter Experience

How to Get More Followers

When you join Twitter you will be given your own unique URL to promote anywhere you like. This should be promoted in just the same ways that you would promote your own website or blog. Email your list about your Twitter profile. Write a blog post. Include your Twitter profile on all of your outgoing emails and forum signatures. Plus, be sure to put a link to your Twitter profile on all of your other social media profiles, like Digg, StumbleUpon, Digg, Mixx and so on.

Most of the top Twitter users developed their large group of followers through their pre-established popularity. If you take a look at the top Twitter users (based on their number of followers), you will notice that many of them have popular blogs, websites, or personalities.

So if you have an existing presence online, start with your current readers first.

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to build up your following without having a pre-existing user base.

Follow Other People: One of the best ways to get people to follow you is to start following them first. The key is to follow people with similar interests who are more likely to be interested in your website.

There are a lot of Twitter users who will follow anyone who follows them. But you must remember why you are using Twitter, you don’t want to friend everyone under the sun. You want to form a community of people with similar interest to network and connect with. If you follow everyone, then Twitter can quickly lose it’s value.

You can find Twitter users with similar interests by using Twitter’s search feature. This will search through information people have given on their profile page and return any profiles featuring the words you have queried.

Twitter Packs – You can also find like-minded Twitter users by browsing Twitter Packs, a community-generated directory of Twitter users organized by topic of interest or geographic area. Here you can easily find hundreds of users with similar interests.

This is one of my favorite ways to get more followers. Best of all, you can add your own profile to the directory where it makes sense. They’ve also created a tool called Autopack that will allow you to follow or unfollow multiple users based on Twitter Packs.

Twellow – The first Twitter directory. Go here to find people on Twitter with similar interests. This is without a doubt one of my favorite tools for finding cool people on Twitter and getting more followers. Check it out.

Twubble – Here’s another cool Twitter application that will help you find new friends. This tool uses your current social graph to find additional users you might be interested in.

Simply visit the Twubble web site and click “find some friends.” You are given a list of potential friends ranked by how many of your friends are following them.

Promote Your Twitter RSS Feed: Did you know that your Twitter updates are also available as an RSS feed? You can find it by scrolling down to the very bottom of your profile page, where you will see the “RSS” button in the bottom left – directly below your updates.

You can now publicize this RSS feed. Submit your feed to all of the RSS directories.

You can also use this RSS feed to create your own widget for WordPress, Blogger, iGoogle, Facebook, MySpace, Netvibes, PageFlakes, and others.

Simply enter the URL of your RSS feed at http://docs.widgetbox.com/developers/blidget/

Here’s an example that I created using my own Twitter RSS feed…

Here are some excellent resources I found while researching how to get more Twitter followers…

How to Get More Twitter Followers
5 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Presence
5 Ways to Find More Friends on Twitter
200+ Internet Marketing Gurus on Twitter

Best Twitter Tools

HelloTxt – Post to Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Bebo, Plurk, Brightkite, and others with a single click.

TwitterFeed – Automatically grabs your latest blog post and sends out a tweet to promote your latest article.

Twhirl – The most popular desktop client for Twitter.

TwitterFox – A Firefox extension that notifies you of your friends’ Twitter updates. Also allows you to post tweets and replies directly from the Firefox browser.

MyTwitter – This is a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to display your latest Twitter status updates on your blog.

TwitBin – Send and receive messages directly from your Firefox browser.

WhoShouldIFollow – A great little tool that suggests new people for you to follow based on the people you are currently following. One of the best ways to find cool new people to follow.

Summize – One of the best search engines for Twitter. Find out who’s talking about your area of interest.

Twellow.com – The first directory of Twitter users organized by categories and interests. Mashable has defined Twellow as “The People Search That Twitter Should’ve Built“. So far, Twellow has indexed more than 300,000 users.

TwitPic – Let’s you share photos on Twitter.

TwitterBar – A Firefox extension that lets you post to Twitter from your address bar.

TweetBeep – Like Google Alerts for Twitter! Be the first to find out whenever your name, product, company, or website is mentioned on Twitter.

Tin Foil Hat – A Greasemonkey script that reveals the destination URLs hidden by TinyURL.

You can find a more comprehensive list of Twitter Tools at the following links…

Twitter Toolbox – 60+ Twitter Tools
14 More Twitter Tools

If you want to get the most out of Twitter, start participating! Twitter is all about the conversation. Follow the “thought leaders” in your industry and get involved in the conversation. Twitter gives you the opportunity to meet lots of amazing people that you probably wouldn’t normally have the
chance to meet. So Jump In!

28 thoughts on “A Comprehensive Guide to Twitter”

  1. Great article Kim. I saw your post in the Warrior Forum and came over to read your blog. I made a short blog post referring my readers here for you. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Kim,

    I saw this as well in the WF and this is a very comprehensive review of Twitter. Well done! I use Twitter but now I have learned different ways to take advantage of everything Twitter has to offer. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Take care
    Jeff Casmer
    Free Work at Home

  3. Saw the post on the WF and had to take a look. I am quite new to Twitter but am keen to increase my followers. I have bookmarked this page and will be referring to it a lot over the next few weeks.

    PS, I am now following you on Twitter!

  4. Hi Kim,

    I noticed your post on the warrior forum and am very impressed with your research and the great links you have provided. I will also link to this post on my blog and will digg it too, great job.



  5. Thanks for the information Kim, I must admit Twitter confuses me but will give it another shot following your guide.
    Now if can do similar for Craigslist LOL.

  6. Hi, Kim:

    I clicked through to your great post via Mal Tindle’s blog, which I accessed through the Warrior Forum. Very comprehensive overview – and INNERview – of Twitter!

    I’m not a “Twit” yet – despite what you may have heard on the Net ;-) – but you certainly make it sound appealing. Thanks for the info!

    GT Bulmer

  7. Pingback: Kim Roach
  8. Thanks for this post – I am doing everything on it! McAfee Site Advisor marks my site as dangerous – any ideas why? I have contacted them, but until they get back to me I want to do anything and everything to fix this.

  9. The Twitter stuff was very good! It really help me understand on the “how to stuff”….
    Do you have any stuff on Facebook, anything that could help understand to build friends list!

    Randy from Starbuck Minnesota – The starbuck Man. ;-)


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