OK, I will be the first to admit I was no an early adopter of Twitter, my partner may even say I had a healthy dose of scepticism as he raved a couple of years ago about the site’s potential for communication, but knee-deep in nappies at the time I was more occupied with nursery rhymes than short updates on what I was up to, which after all – while very personally fulfilling – would have made dull reading for anyone who wasn’t also experiencing the comfortable monotony of life with a small baby.
Now, like the worst of the converted, I am more than happy to evangelise about Twitter’s huge potential, not only for communications between individuals but also as an important piece of practically any business toolbox. But the site has a number of basic rules and principles which mean that people starting out with it have some questions that can be simply answered.
Understanding the basics will give confidence and control as you set out to make the best use of the site for your own reasons.
Here I’ve collected five of the questions I have most been asked by people getting starting to use Twitter for various business reasons.
1. Why am I seeing a conversation between two people that I am not involved in?
This happens if two people that you follow are having a public conversation and you follow them both. Like at any good party, if you are interested in or have something to add to the topic of conversation, then you should go ahead and introduce yourself into the conversation if you would like to.
2. Can a DM be sent to and from anyone?
No – you can send direct messages to your followers, and people you follow can send you a direct message. But you cannot send a direct message to a user who is not following you.
3. I said something I didn’t mean to – can I delete it?
Yes a tweet is easily removed, there is a delete button under each tweet – but the tweet may show up in searches for a little while before disappearing entirely. Because of the nature of the site, no-one expects each tweet to be perfectly crafted, grammatically correct and typo-free though, so don’t get too hung up about small errors which can easily be corrected with a subsequent tweet.
4. How do I get lots of followers?
Like any other tool you might use for your business, you need to see how the tool fits into your overall strategy and see what it will help you achieve with regard to this strategy. Lots of followers alone is a weak goal in most circumstances – better to have a smaller number of engaged followers that you have conversations with or swap information with than a whole raft of followers who aren’t in the least interested in you.
5. How much time and effort should I spend on Twitter?
Find your own style, tweet a mixture of personal and business information, and try not to let one site such as Twitter overwhelm your overall objectives. If you are consistent in your approach, even if that is only a handful of tweets each day, and if you engage in conversation rather than shouting your own message, you will find lots of value in the time you do spend; even small chunks of time spent over an ongoing period can work wonders to build and enhance your personal reputation.