By Joe Pulizzi published March 31, 2009

Eight Tips for the Twitter Beginner

I’ve been traveling non-stop recently – from California to New York to Florida to Europe and back.  Everywhere I go, I ask people about their Twitter usage. Not surprisingly, I see about 10% or less usage across the board (not including the online marketing audiences, which have generally been north of 50%+ usage).

I’ve read a lot of really good Twitter posts recently, including the Ultimate Guide to Everything Twitter to How Huge Brands Are Using Twitter to 101 Ways to Be Rocked by Twitter.  All good and useful. Yet, I still get questioned from most marketing executives who truly believe Twitter is a waste of time. About a year ago, I agreed with them.  Now, Twitter is one of the most important business tools I use and drives more than 10% of our total website traffic.

So, here are just some baby steps that you usually don’t learn until you are well into your Twitter career (struggling to figure out how to use it).  Hopefully these will be helpful.

  1. Don’t ever answer the question “What are you doing?” No one cares that you are drinking coffee and just finished dinner.  Answer the question with something that is always informative or helpful. This could be a link to a great article or a video that caught your attention.  If you want to tell people that you love a particular song, link to the song (now that’s helpful). Better yet, continually link to helpful content that your customers need for their careers.From a business standpoint, if you focus on a particular subject, you’ll gain a core following quickly.  For example, 90% of my tweets focus on some aspect of content, marketing or publishing.  If those interest you, you can follow me @juntajoe.
  2. If you are using Twitter on the Twitter website you probably don’t get all the hype. What you need is a Twitter management system like Tweetdeck or Tweetgrid. That way, you can not only “listen” when people are talking about you, but you can also search on keyword phrases or follow hash tags (#contentstrategy) that are important to you. I prefer Tweetdeck.
  3. If you have a blog or article RSS feed, use Twitterfeed to automatically “tweet” your post or article. I’ve talked to dozens of people who were using tinyurl.com and manually doing this process until they found Twitterfeed. Once that’s done, use the Twitter Facebook app to automatically update your Facebook status through Twitter.
  4. Be democratic. Don’t just push out your own content all day long. Push
    out interesting and relevant stories that aren’t yours (possibly even
    your competition). You’ll be viewed as a much more credible source if
    you are seen as a market servant, instead of just a traffic hog.
  5. Complete your profile. I’m so surprised at the number of people that don’t even complete their name in their Twitter profile.  You’ll get less followers without a name.
  6. Don’t use Auto Direct Message. Only use direct messaging for personal notes.  Auto DM’s are way too impersonal and salesy for any social media, including Twitter. Don’t believe me? Read this post by Robert Scoble.
  7. Lethal generosityRead this blog post by Shel Israel on the concept of lethal generosity in social media. Give until it hurts and you will gain followers quickly.  Just like our content marketing…relevant, valuable information creates fans out of customers and prospects.  It works on Twitter as well.
  8. Shhh…listen! Remember, Twitter’s most important function is as a listening device (also called “listening post”).  Whether it’s you, or your social media staffer, someone in your organization should be listening to what’s being said about you, your brand, and your industry.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to take this tool seriously.

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Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers. Joe's latest book is Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • http://phillywordsmith.blogspot.com Emily Sheetz

    Thanks for a great post, Joe. I am loving these easy Twitter tips. They are great for passing along to friends who are new the game. I also get sad when people are not on and do not even care about the potential of Twitter. It has proven massively effective for several companies. Why would you ignore that?

  • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

    Thanks Emily…it’s only a matter of time.
    Keep the feedback coming!
    jp

  • http://www.yinkaolaito.com yinka olaito

    very instructive, i will tweet it on my twitter.

  • http://www.rokettubem.com roket

    very instructive, i will tweet it on my twitter.

  • http://blog.junta42.com/content_marketing_blog/2009/11/twitter-basics-questions-answered.html Junta42 blog

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