8 Tips for Using Twitter Effectively

Twitter is a firehose. Drinking from a firehose is really really difficult. And making sense out of twitter would just be like drinking from firehose.Twitter unlike a firehose does provide some effective handles to make use of. You can get lost mid stream or make it a potent tool for your success. It all depends on how you use the tool.

I am not a social media expert and I am not pretending to be one. These are simple observations based on my limited twitter usage.

Here are the 8 tips for using Twitter effectively.

Don’t follow celebrities

Do you really want to start your day knowing that a celebrity is off to gym or to yoga. Do you really want to know their glamour and glitzy lives? I sure don’t. On twitter everybody shares the best part of their lives, if they share at all. Instead of following them, create a separate list of celebrities to drop in few times a week. This should help you clear your timeline for the most important folks who you can really interact with.

The real beauty of twitter is this: If it’s important it will reach you. Active tweeple have found the news of Osama being dead on twitter. How did the whole world knew that Aishwarya Rai Bachan was pregnant? On Twitter of course. Amitabh Bachan tweeted about it. Someone I followed re-tweeted it and it reached me. See I told you, if it is important it will reach you. You don’t have go looking for it.

Don’t follow and unfollow, incubate instead

If you find someone worthy of following based on few tweets don’t go ahead and follow them. On impulse if you did, don’t unfollow them. This is just a cat and mouse game not worth playing. Instead have an “incubate” list. Incubate the tweeple you want to follow for two weeks. Watch their tweets and frequency of updates. Then you can decide to follow or let them go.

Filter, filter and filter some more: Use lists

The Twitter Timeline could be a serious hell and a blissful heaven at the same time. It all depends on how you curate. If there is a specific niche that you want to follow then carve out a list for just those folks. For example, I am a huge gadget fan. I have a separate list on twitter for the people/publications I want to check on first. That will be in a prominent position on my TweetDeck. If I’m on web, I will go that list directly. Create similar lists for your inspirational contacts, your friends, your regular followers who re-tweet your stuff and so on. In a way twitter is like email. It has to be filtered.

Don’t count

Don’t be obsessive about the number of followers you have and the number of people you follow and come up with ratios which doesn’t make any sense. If you want to follow, then follow. If you don’t want to follow yet want to know about what someone is saying, then create a list. But for crying out loud, stop counting.

Speaking of counting, there are new tools in town to measure your social influence. Peer Index and Klout are the two services which calculate your tweets, retweets, follows and followers and whole bunch of other stuff to arrive at your social influence score. Prediction goes that your online presence is measured by your Klout. Pinstorm yet another service has started what it calls a IndiaInfluencers list. It aggregates Klout and PeerIndex scores and comes up with a simple average for Indian tweeple. Based on which it assigns rankings. This new game means new ways to count and qualifies for don’t count rule.

Stay on Twitter different times of the day

If you have to be on twitter, then chunk your time on it. If you have 40 mins to spend on twitter then split it to four 10 minute chunks and spread it across the day to cover all time zones and interact with tweeple on other continents.

Keep your twitter handle short

If you are getting in to twitter then keep your twitter handle short. It helps in conversations, retweets as twitter is frugal when it comes to the characters you can type on it. @6sv is the my new short twitter handle in addition to @indianomics.

Don’t click tweets with just links

Never ever click links on tweets with nothing but the link. Even better is to not click on links from unknown tweeple.

Follow Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki tweets about a lot of interesting things, occasionally about his dog and the letter he received from Aung Sui Kyan, but wouldn’t you tweet if you just got a letter from Aung? And for the dog part, of a thousand tweets, one tweet about Guy’s dog actually makes following him more interesting.

Guess how many followers does Guy have? And how many people does he follow? How does he do it? I haven’t met him or know him personally but I believe he does some of the things listed above.

Here’s a lagniappe. Don’t get addicted to twitter.