Still not certain whether you should take the Twitter plunge? The best way to determine its value is to give it a try. Focusing on using Twitter professionally rather than personally – including staying current with local, national, and global news – this post offers simple best practice suggestions for setting up your profile and getting started.
As far as I’m concerned, every professional can benefit from having a Twitter account. That doesn’t mean we all have to care what people are having for lunch, who the mayor of the local Home Depot is, or what celebrities are doing, thinking, or selling. It also doesn’t mean that we have to share (or overshare) the banalities of our own lives, amass hundreds or thousands of followers, or strive for a high Kloutscore.
Contrary to popular perception, media hype, and the passionate proclamations of early-adopters and Twitter mavens, Twitter views itself as an “information network” rather than a “social network.” Specifically, as described on the About Twitterpage,
Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting. Simply find the accounts you find most compelling and follow the conversations.
This description directly addresses the first item in my Twitter Worst Practices post from a year ago: namely, the insidious and somewhat tyrannical assumption that all Twitter users must tweet. Reluctance to talk or share via Twitter is one of the primary reasons many later adopters are still hesitant to sign up. The reality is that Twitter is an incredibly powerful listening channel. It offers fantastic opportunities for everyone – especially busy professionals – to receive and screen a high volume of news, information and resources efficiently and effectively. It is perfectly to open a Twitter account with the intent to just listen. You never have to send a single tweet. Twitter even says so themselves:
You don’t have to build a web page to surf the web, and you don’t have to tweet to enjoy Twitter. Whether you tweet 100 times a day or never, you still have access to the voices and information surrounding all that interests you. You can contribute, or just listen in and retrieve up-to-the-second information. Visit fly.twitter.com to learn more about what’s yours to discover.
Like most things, the best way to determine Twitter’s potential value is to give it a try. Other than a small amount of time, you have nothing to lose. Twitter is free, and it’s incredibly easy to open an account.
Here are my best practice suggestions for setting up your profileand getting started. To keep things simple, I am going to focus on using Twitter professionally rather than personally, including staying current with local, national, and global news.
If you have a specific question not addressed in these suggestions, I’d love to hear it. I’m planning a follow-up post on taking participation to the next level, and I’m happy to address particular topics people are interested in. I also invite other experienced Twitter users to share their recommendations, in case I may have overlooked something.
- Courtney Shelton Hunt
PS - If you want to receive the next set of Twitter recommendations as soon as they’re published, be sure to subscribe to the blog (via RSS feed, email, GoogleReader and more).
Best Practice Suggestions
Choosing a Username (i.e., Your Handle)
Including a Picture (yes, you should have one)
Adding Your Name, Website, & Bio
Setting Up Mobile Access:Because tweets are like headlines, they’re extremely easy to digest and manage in small bites. That makes them perfect for what I call “interstitial time” – e.g., when you’re commuting or traveling, while waiting for someone, before you’re ready to get out of bed in the morning. To facilitate that, make sure you set your account up to send your tweets to your phone (i.e., via 40404) and/or download one of the Twitter apps to your phone and/or tablet.
Restricting Followers: Assuming you don’t plan to start tweeting initially, you should make your account private by selecting the “Protect my Tweets” option. This way, no one will be able to follow you without your permission. Doing so will not affect your ability to follow others.
Building Twitter into your Schedule
Learning the Language and Basic Conventions