Some people call Twitter a “fire hose” of information. If you’ve avoided Twitter up until now, this phrase may be a little off-putting. After all, no sane person signs up to be hit by a fire hose! But if you aren’t using Twitter, you are missing out on potential networking and business opportunities.
Whether you’ve never dipped a toe into the Twitter fire hose, or you’ve given up on it, read this tips for making the most of Twitter… Even if it overwhelms you:
Use a Twitter Client
You want to know a secret? The best way to use Twitter is not actually at Twitter.com. Twitter’s official “clients” for most operating systems or 3rd-party clients like Hootsuite offer a much easier way to use Twitter than actually navigating your browser to Twitter.com. Choose a client (generally by searching “Twitter” and your operating system) and make use of their more robust features for viewing, Tweeting and navigating the fire hose of information that is Twitter.
I see many business owners sign up for Twitter and then begin following friends, family, colleagues, celebrities, local businesses, interesting thought leaders, everyone in your email contacts… You get the picture. Twitter’s signup process itself makes it very tempting to sign on and begin following other users willy nilly. But I advocate a slow and steady approach. Follow 3-5 of your favorite people at first, then – if you feel comfortable with your Twitter stream – follow a few more the next day. To keep Twitter meaningful, only follow the people you plan to meaningfully interact with.
Take Advantage of Lists
One savvy way to control the Twitter information fire hose is with lists. Twitter’s list feature allows you to group like accounts together. You might want to sort out potential business prospects so you can respond to them a few times a day, while old high school friends may get sorted into another, less urgent list. And don’t worry, you can make lists private, so none of your Tweeps ever know you listed them as “Annoying Ex-coworkers.”
One great way to find people you want to have meaningful interactions with is through Tweet chats. Find a Tweet chat or two that piques your interest and aligns with your goals for being on Twitter and join in. You’ll find others Twitter users you can relate to, and who knows? You may even find a business opportunity or two.
One often-overlooked aspect of Twitter is the ability to market directly to potential customers. For instance, say you offer a dog walking service in Virginia Beach. People are constantly looking for you on Twitter. They may go so far as to Tweet “Anybody know any good dog walkers in Virginia Beach?” Figure out keywords that people may use to look for a business like yours and then set up a few Twitter searches in your favorite Twitter client. Then offer a friendly “How can I help?” should anyone ever shout out for your services.