I recently had a few deep conversations about Twitter. Because of what I do for a living, many have shared a range of feelings with me in regards to the platform and people tend to default to saying something is 'no good' or 'pointless' if they don't understand it. And with Twitter in particular, I can see how a platform of such scale can be intimidating.
First, I acknowledge the overwhelming factor, but I counter it by providing a different vantage point: a way to simplify how they consume content.
This is why I suggest a way to ease yourself in and start to understand the platform by taking the listening-first approach. That takes away the "fear" that most people who aren't familiar with the platform have: what on earth would I share? I assure them, though Twitter would encourage the opposite, that they shouldn't feel the pressure to share, it's not a necessity.
Here's a guide to help someone as they begin their Twitter journey:
Step 1: Analyze Your Interests and Follow Them
- What news sites do you frequent?
- What publications do you read?
- Do you have any favorite writers or journalists?
- In what industry do you work? Follow your company, competitors, industry news, etc.
- What sports teams do you cheer for?
- Interest in any celebrities, actors or actresses?
- TV shows you can't miss?
- Do you enjoy following politics?
- Local news outlets in your city could be of interest as well.
Step 2: Make Sure Your News Feed Provides Personal Utility
Remember it doesn't have to be a two-way street - just because someone follows you, doesn't mean you have to follow them back. This is probably one of my favorite things about Twitter, that most differentiates it from Facebook. Don't be afraid to be picky as to who you follow - I sure am. If you truly care about the content you're consuming and you end up following too many people/accounts, you lose the value of the platform. Everyone's busy, you can only possibly keep up with a certain quantity of updates, especially on a platform that prides itself on it's real-time value (and, in my opinion, it still does this better than any of the others).
Step 3: Understand Hashtags
There are two main purposes of hashtags. The most important is to aggregate, control and participate in a conversation. More times than not this tends to have a real-time factor. The other, which many people abuse, is to make a point. Those are the over exaggerated, long, frivolous, multitude of hashtags you see. I could write a whole other posting just on this topic. Foreshadowing maybe?
Step 4: Interact With Others
You don't have to proactively mass-post if you're still unsure of what you want to say. Respond (always start with @________) to the posts you see on your news feed - whether it's a simple tip of the cap in agreement or maybe a contrary opinion or additional comment you'd like to share via an accessible virtual conversation. Baby steps.
Step 5: Join the Conversation, But Only if You're Ready
Evaluate whether you want to share with others - it's not for everyone. By now you will most likely have some sort of a following, whether it's friends or strangers that stumbled upon your account, so figure out what out what you'd like your presence to be. But try not to just share for the sake of sharing. I've personally broken down what type of content my tweets fall under, percentage-wise, similar to content pillars for a brand, and for the most part I color within those lines.