How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Twitter
I used to hate Twitter. I thought of it as a manifestation of the everything wrong with my precious, precious Internet. Twitter invites the half-cocked rantings of stupid youths, bad spellers, office show-offs, and obnoxious marketers. It promotes exhibitionism and destroys process. It necessitates and facilitates the destruction of thoughtful prose. It is anti-elegance.
When I started to really sink my teeth into social media marketing, I realized I was missing the point entirely. Twitter isn’t evil. Twitter isn’t necessarily good, either.
Twitter is whatever I want it to be.
Twitter is a personalized, indiscriminate, interactive newsfeed. The breadth of available information is so vast that users have access to almost everything: friends, brands, writers, movie stars, revolutionaries, other people’s grandpas, the cast of the Jersey Shore, oceanographers… The magic of Twitter is that it’s completely customizable, but you have to understand it first. So here’s my Guide to Loving Twitter:
1. Learn the Language:
Twitter’s 140 characters have caused a kind of geeky shorthand on the site. That overwhelming blur of hash tags and abbreviations can look like code, and that’s because it is. To read Tweets, you have to understand the language.
The Hash Tag (#): The hash tag is a simple way for people to search by common topic. If you search #Archer, you’ll probably get a list of Tweets related to the (hilarious) TV show. You won’t see “I shoot apples off people’s heads because I am an excellent archer,” as it’s not preceded by the hash tag. The has tag indicates a keyword. If you’re searching, pay attention to it, if you’re reading, ignore it.
Incidentally, the hash tag also becomes kind of a joke once in awhile. People make up nonsense hash tags to entertain. I recently used #nerdproblems, which isn’t anything you’d search for, but it does indicate the fact that I was having nerd-related problems that day, and I like stupid meta-jokes.
Here’s more commonly used shorthand:
DM: Direct Message
@: If the @ symbol is followed by a Twitter handle, that Tweet will show up in a person’s feed. If you want to talk to someone on Twitter, use the @ symbol before their handle and they’ll probably read it.
Hopefully MC Hammer will respond in a timely manner.
2. Deliberately choose what you’ll read:
If your friends are constantly updating you with lame information like “Gas prices are high.” or “I just made an omelet,” you probably hate Twitter because your newsfeed is boring. Make a list. I have a list for every account called “Read Me.” Add cool organizations, industry experts and funny people to your list, and suddenly your Twitter feed is full of amazing, entertaining information. You can keep your friends on Twitter and you never have to read their lame feeds again.
3. Have a conversation:
Clients frequently ask me if they should be answering questions on Twitter. The answer is yes. While you don’t need to respond to every spammer who direct messages you, you should respond to relevant questions and interesting conversations. Interact.
4. This isn’t about you
Twitter isn’t about you, it’s about your readers. If you want to grow your following, post articles and information that are worth reading. You can’t post self-promoting Tweets 10 times a day and expect people to care. Like any relationship, you have to care about the other party. If you want followers, your content needs to be rad.
If you have any other questions, message us @BabyRobotInc.
See you on the interwebs.