Twitter is more than just telling people what you’re eating for breakfast. It can be a way of making friends, getting human answers to questions and can even be a good income stream for your business!

Twitter can feel daunting at first– what’s all this nonsense about tweeting, hashtags!? All will be revealed!

Gaining followers

Twitter is all about networks of interesting people having conversations, but when you set your account up your followers numbers will be a big zero. What can you do to help this?

Just tweet!

The first thing you’ll be wondering is, what’s the point in tweeting when you have no followers (i.e. nobody’s listening!). Your first bunch of tweets will feel like you’re shouting into the void but you’ll find it tough to gain any followers without evidence that you

  • actually use Twitter and
  • have something interesting to say

Write an interesting biography

When deciding whether to follow someone, a quick look over the biography can sway you. I usually look for something more than just what the person does for a living. Humour can also work well here.

Choose your avatar carefully

Company logos don’t work for me. A picture of you is really all you need. Or why not try something a bit quirky? A cartoon or something else that stands out help engage any potential followers.

Be honest

Be yourself. Putting on an act is not only hard work but it could be off-putting for your audience.

There’s nothing more off-putting than an account full of false positivity.

Be careful

This probably goes without saying, but bad language can be contentious; similarly, religeon, politics, football, etc. should be mentioned with caution. That’s not to say don’t do it, just that subjects like these can provoke some really strong reactions and you should be prepared for that.

Follow people

Following people is a good way to gain followers as a lot of people like to ‘follow back’. Likewise, if someone follows you, unless there’s a good reason not to (check their biography, timeline, etc.) it’s worth reciprocating.

Getting the most out of Twitter

Following people means your timeline will be nice and full. If those people are tweeting interesting things you’ll get plenty out of Twitter. But how do you decide who to follow?

Search for friends

Twitter allows you to search for people in a few different ways. If you’re using an app on your smartphone you can usually access your device’s address book to see if any of your contacts are already on Twitter. In similar fashion, you can sometimes use your Twitter app connect to other social networks to see if any of your friends there also use Twitter.

Friends of friends

Once you’ve followed any of your friends that you want to follow, have a look through the people who they follow and see if anyone jumps out at you.

Industry ‘celebrities’

In any industry there are prominent figures that are usually fairly vocal on Twitter. Authors of books you’ve read, speakers at events you’ve attended, and so on. Give them a follow!

Search

Searching Twitter can also throw up some really interesting people to follow. Pop some keywords in the search box and see who comes up.

Keep in touch

Twitter is, for me, one of the best ways to keep in touch with other business owners you meet. People I meet at co-working, conferences; anywhere, really!

For me, business is about people. A corporate veneer can be off-putting for me, and Twitter’s informal feel—as cheesy as it sounds—lends itself to presenting its users as human beings with character and feelings. As daft as it seems, I enjoy seeing pictures of people I do business with’s Sunday lunch or family days out; and hearing about how excited they are when they book their holiday or how they deal with things when their washing machine breaks is all part of it too.

Twitter keeps people in one another’s thoughts, so if they need your expertise at any point, you’re only a tweet away!

Don’t spam

One thing that’s worth mentioning is the way you tweet. You’ll quickly lose followers if every tweet you post is in some way self promotional. In fact, I rarely tweet links to articles I’ve written on my blog that’s best kept for other social networks, email lists, etc.

Posting link after link after link can be (and frequently is) done by a robot.

Interacting

Always make sure you make time to reply to anyone who tweets you and needs a response.

For this reason I’d steer you away from services that allow you to schedule tweets. Twitter is about being in the moment it’s normal for your tweets to be shuffled off the bottom of people’s timelines in a matter of a few seconds, so responses to your tweets will come soon after you’ve posted. Make sure you’re around to answer any questions or clarify your point!

If you’re not people might begin to smell a spambot rat!

Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way of tying tweets together. Pop a hashtag on your tweet and it will automatically link to anyone else using the same hashtag. This can be for running jokes like #firstworldproblems, group commentaries on events or TV shows, community meet-ups.

You can watch these conversations by searching for the hashtag and keeping an eye on the tweets that keep come through. You can then tweet with the hashtag and be a part of that conversation.

This is probably a blog post in itself so I won’t delve too deep, but I hope that works as a brief overview.

Get yourself a good app

Twitter’s all about the apps. The easiest way to use it is to get yourself a good app. I use an app called Tweetbot on my phone which makes life a lot easier. There are others, such as Twitterific that do a great job too.

Of course you could just use one of Twitter’s official apps or their website, but I’ve found the 3rd party apps like Tweetbot offer a much richer experience of Twitter.

So how about you?

It’s not my-way-or-the-high-way so if you use Twitter in a different way to me or you think I’ve missed something important, why not mention it in the comments below?