The First 5 Steps to Getting Started on Twitter

Twitter, the online social media site that everyone is talking about, defines “less is more.” With 140-character maximum messages, or “tweets,” as the only way to update your profile, using Twitter really demands that you clearly state your message or thought. Basically, get right to your point and make it interesting; otherwise, you won’t gain any followers, which is the goal here. If you’re one who likes to write prose or paragraph upon paragraph about a new product or idea, Twitter will challenge you to think and write tighter. What makes Twitter different from all the other social networking sites, however, is its real time capabilities. Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn require you to log in to see posts and respond (although this is changing quickly on Facebook) but Twitter appeals to those who want to stay socially connected online, right now.

From a leadership standpoint, if you have the talent, knowledge, and intuition to become a thought leader, Twitter provides the ideal platform to get started. You can follow others to get an idea of what they’re tweeting about and then start tweeting your own thought-provoking ideas to build followers of your own. The more followers you have, the higher your “authority” ranking becomes. You want to be an authoritative VAR, so naturally you’ll be inclined to push that number as high as possible. Countless plug-ins and add-ons allow you to track your results with statistics as well.

Getting started on Twitter can be a bit daunting, especially when you log in, set up your account and realize there isn’t much on the Twitter site to get you going. Here are a few tips to help you join the Twitter craze:

1. Choose your username wisely. When you sign up for your Twitter account, take care in creating your username as this is how you will be remembered in the tweeting community. Each username begins with the @ symbol. Something like @superVAR could literally be any VAR that chose that name. What makes you unique and different? What do you current customers think about you and your services? Work on creating a username that stands out and sets you apart.

2. Add a photo or logo. Make yourself real. You’ll see there is a brown square in your profile when you first register. Adding a photo of yourself or your company logo makes you real. The brown square makes you generic. Remember that the entire social networking world is about connecting with people, not entities.

3. Use words that matter to your following so you’ll be found. Similar to including key words and phrases in your website copy and blogs in order to be found in search engines, using keywords that appeal to your customers, prospects, and channel partners will help you be found. Consider tweets with terms like “profitability”, “trends”, “ROI”, and “added value”. Once you’re found, if you provide interesting or insightful information, you’ll be followed.

4. Being the follower is just as important as being followed. What is your competition up to? What about your customers? Becoming a follower of other users is just as important as being followed for the mere fact that you can develop your knowledge base as well (and see what your competitors are up to!). Look for other Twittering people who you can follow. You might also find inspiration to tweet about!

5. Feed your blog, Facebook, and LinkedIn updates to or from Twitter. One easy way to spread your knowledge across all social networking platforms and ultimately on Twitter is to feed them right into a Twitter posting automatically. Check out twitterfeed.com and follow the simple steps to incorporate automatic feeds. Through Twitter, you can also flip-flop this idea so that when you tweet, you automatically update your status on your Facebook page as well.

The number one tip that I can share is to start slow; get your feet wet a bit as you explore the vast possibilities on Twitter. Once you feel more comfortable with how Twitter works, begin utilizing the site to position yourself as a leader in your industry. You’ll quickly find that Twitter allows you to differentiate yourself from your competition and your following will continue to grow – and perhaps produce some new customers – along the way. Now get tweeting!

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