social media friends twitter To tweet or not to tweet was your question of 2010.  Now that it's 2011 you've decided to take the big tweet plunge.  You finally get the guts to hop on Twitter.

Chances are your experience might have started out a little like this:

1. You setup your account.

2. You followed some famous people that Twitter suggested you follow. As you did this you thought… “hmmm… just what I thought… Twitter is a waste of time… why do I need to follow Justin Bieber?”

3. You listened to the advice of the people “who get it” and put a real photo of yourself as the avatar, not the generic egg Twitter provides you with.

4. You tried changing your Twitter background and colors but gave up as you don't have a brand yet anyway.

5. You question the purpose and the fact that you setup your Twitter account. You don't see what all your friends are getting so excited about Twitter. You might even be thinking to yourself that you'll never set foot on it again after today unless at least one person follows you back within the next 24 hours.

6. You start to wonder if you are as cool as you thought you were before you hopped on Twitter.  But then you think again and decide you aren't going to let some dumb blue bird determine your cool factor.

7.  You send your first tweet and it reads something like “hellllooo… It's my first day on Twitter… anybody there?”

8. You wish you had more followers.

9. You decide to wait until tomorrow to figure out this Twitter thing. You have real work to do.

10. On your way home from the office you start thinking about what on earth you are going to Tweet about tomorrow! You just can't seem to get that crazy little blue bird out of your head!

I know the above may not be exactly the same steps you went thru when you hopped on Twitter.  However, from my experience in helping many small and medium size business leaders, my guess is it's pretty close!

So, let's talk about where you should go from here.

17 Tips to Get you Tweetin', Makin' Friends and Hopefully Some Followers Along the Way!

1. Organize your social house. Grab yourself a notebook and keep track of all logins, passwords etc.  Create a folder in your email inbox to save all of the account creation confirmations and other information.

2. Develop your tweet plan. Random acts of tweeting and random acts of social media have offer only one guarantee and that is to waste your most greatest asset which is time.  Ensure that your social media and tweetin' activities align to your business goals and objectives.  Having a purpose in your tweets will better organically attract people to you and your content.

3. Create a content message house. If you don't already have one, create a message house for your business.  At minimum it should include your vision, mission, value proposition, descriptions of business and products, key features, differentiation statements and key positioning messages.  As part of the message create a list of potential tweets  that could help an audience. Focus on educating and inspiring your target audience.

4. Start social listening. The first step in social media is to learn about the ecosystem you are getting ready to enter.  Spend some time searching for, following and listening to interesting tweeters.  Hop on to Kurrently, Twellow and Twitter Search for real-time searches.  Kurrently offers real-time results for both Twitter and Facebook.  These types of tools will provide you an easy way to find and connect with like minds.

5. Create Twitter lists to start tracking the people you meet and find interesting. Organize your twitter lists by topic, industry, demographics or whatever best supports your business and marketing objectives, goals, and plans.

6. Show some social media love! During your early stages of social media and tweeting focus on learning from and supporting others.  Even if you aren't yet creating your own content you can be a content curator which searches for and serves up great content from other thought leaders in your industry.  Focus on finding good quality content creators in your market industry or niche. Then you can retweet and share their content on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

7.  Connect authentically with other thought leaders. Now that you've done some social listening, started to curate some decent information and also share some of the best content you find with your friends, now it's time to start building some relationships.  Leave a comment on your favorite blog.  Send your favorite writer a tweet about their content, their website or something you found interesting that they said.

8.  Be authentic and real. Don't pretend you know everything.  Be humble and don't be afraid to ask for help.  If you don't understand something someone writes about or tweets to you, then by all means ask them for clarification.  Let people know the real you.  The more you do this the easier it will be for you to connect with real people.

9. Search for and start following more people. Now that you're getting the hang of this “Twter thang” a little bit, it's time to start finding more people to “tweet with”.  There are numerous tools that will help you find and follow people easily.  Check out HootSuite, TweetDeck, and simple do a search on Google for Twitter tools.  Send a tweet and ask for suggestions or ask one of your favorite thought leaders you met during your early stages of social listening.

10. Continue to focus on adding value. Never stop giving when tweeting. Focus on sharing valuable, relevant content with your audience and you will organically grow your following.

11.  Use hashtags such as #sm or #twitter. Hashtags increase the chances of your tweets getting found, increase your organic twitter following.  Hashtags are basically a keyword that starts with a pound sign.  For example people talking about real estate might use #realestate.  Hashtags help people connect who have similar interests in topics. You can check out trending and popular topics using hashtags at What The Hashtag. You can also connect with groups or create a group for a hashtag at

12.  Make it easy for people to find your twitter handle. Add your new twitter handle to your online and offline signatures and identity.  Don't forget to add it to your business cards, email signature, LinkedIn profile and Facebook information page.  Basically add it everywhere and anywhere you provide your contact information.

13.  Learn and accept twitter and social media is one big conversation. This is not a gimmick or a bunch of crazy tweeters gone mad.  Twitter is truly one big social conversation.  The best thing you can do is join and add value.  Become part of the conversation as early on as you can. Ask questions, provide answers, share quotes, and tell jokes.  Just be the person you are but do it in 140 character increments.

14. Realize your success will greatly depend on relationships. The better you can connect with other tweeters via conversations and by providing valuable content, the more benefit you will reap.  You will organically attract friends and followers as you build real and authentic relationships.  If you think about it, it's really no different than how you network offline.  The big difference is instead of wasting time driving to a networking event and having to talk to Sally, Dick and Harry about the same thing you talked about at the last 25 networking meetings, you can now be more selective in where you spend your time.  You can have side bar 1:1 conversations with 1, 2 or 10 people at a time.  Learning the conversation and relationship duo in social media will jet set you above your competition and fast.

15.  Know you are not going out of business if you lose a twitter follower! Followers will come and go. Everyone will not like you but that doesn't matter. Focus on the ones who do! You aren't going to learn everything over night. Learn what you can at the speed that makes sesnse for you.  Focus on the good people you meet and give then your energy and focus. There are 10 more good people who will follow you for anyone who won't or who unfollows you.  Realize many people use auto-follow and auto-unfollow tools.  Often times if you don't follow someone back their auto-tool may drop you.  So, if they un-follow it might not be personal at all!

16.  Don't get caught up in the lingo. Yes learn it but don't be too hard on yourself. It's okay if you refer to a twit as a tweet in early days. It's not going to blow up your tweet account.  We've all been there. You'll learn it eventually!

17.  Have fun. When all is said and done it's not life or death if you “get twitter” within the next 30 days. You've been without it this long, what's another 30-60 days.  Integrate it into your business and find fun ways you can engage and leverage to build real relationships.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? What did you first think when you joined Twitter? How can you help others who are still new and learning? If you are new, what do you find the most difficult to learn and understand? What have you found the most humorous in Twitterville?


See this article syndicated on Social Media Today!