Participating in a Twitter training course may not immediately turn you into a tweeter. Unless you follow a few simple steps to keep the momentum going.
Many organisations, including universities, invest in training their staff in using Twitter. The courses are popular and the feedback is mostly enthusiastic. However the success of these initiatives depends on what happens after. Here’s a follow-up checklist for the participants… and their managers.
1. Brighten up your profile
Now, this is simple to do, but important. If you keep the default egg as your profile image (avatar), Twitter will assume you might be a spammer and others will ignore you. So, upload your avatar pronto, even if it is a temporary one; you can always change it later.
Add a short bio, up to 160 characters, which is not much, but enough to be original, and ideally add your interests. If you want to use the account professionally – which is the point of the training you have been offered – you’d be better off by mentioning your job, or your organisation. In short, you need to lose a bit of your anonymity in order for people to notice you.
Uploading a background image will make your full profile visually attractive and may add a bit of personal touch. It will also make you much happier about being on Twitter, instantly.
2. Follow more people
Whether you are a passive or an active user, you need to do it to make your feed – the stream of messages you see when you open Twitter – interesting to you. Otherwise Twitter may seem… boring. If it does, it means you have not done your homework yet.
Feel free to mix your professional and personal interests: follow your fellow geologists and embroiderers, if that’s your thing. Search for the terms you are interested in (e.g. #geology or #knitting; I tried both and quickly found they have something in common), or actual names to find people to follow.
It is good to be curious. If you follow somebody interesting, click to see who they follow to find more relevant accounts. Check out their lists, too, for more relevant accounts to follow or subscribe to the lists.
If you accepted Twitter’s default set of accounts to follow, when you created your profile, you have probably ended up with a lot of celebrities you may not want to stalk. Unfollow those you find not right for you and follow others instead. Do not forget to follow your colleagues and collaborators.
3. Start tweeting!
You can do it progressively, by ‘passive’ tweeting at the beginning: try and share an article you have found interesting directly from the source (click on on the Twitter share button from the article). RTW (retweet) a tweet you like, especially from someone who knows you. It will be appreciated.
Send a reply to a person you know, either by clicking on the reply button on their tweet or by starting a message with their handle (@…) You will be surprised how quickly they will answer!
Use ‘likes’ (click on a heart symbol under a tweet) to agree with a tweet, to praise it, to mark it for reference, or to thank someone in a conversation. Twitter etiquette on the use of likes (until recently known as favourites) is constantly developing, and it is kind of intuitive, too. Try it – you can always undo a ‘like’ by clicking on the heart again.
4. Go mobile and multimedia
If you have not done so, upload the Twitter app on your mobile phone. This tool works best on the go and if you are not Twitter mobile, you are missing out on at least half of fun. Would you restrict yourself to sending/receiving text messages only from home?
Once you are ready, add photos to your tweets directly from your phone, and – if you are more adventurous – video or audio, too. People are more likely to engage with richer, original and exclusive content. Already on Instagram? Share your next photo on Twitter when posting.
Try allowing notifications from Twitter on your phone settings. You will be notified when somebody mentions you or replies to you on Twitter. You can switch it off and can set ‘do not disturb’ periods.
5. Do it together
It’s hard to deny that Twitter is a place full of strangers and initially it may seem daunting or paradoxically empty (see point 2). So there is a great advantage in taking your first steps in company. Connect with your colleagues and bring Twitter up at coffee breaks and the canteen chats. Ask others how they are doing, and discuss your best experiences, doubts or questions.
… and finally, a word for social media moderators and managers
While it is true Twitter may not be a thing for all, most participants sign up to training courses, because they want to catch up with the trend. If they stall afterwards, it may mean they have not really tried to engage and have not yet experienced many benefits. You may spend ten minutes of the next team meeting on reviewing the points above. Good luck!
Posted by @luboxon Wojtek Lubowiecki, communicator and coach, ex-BBC WS editor. Interested in organising a Twitter workshop? You will find my contact details on the main page. Or Email me