You Can Tweet

I confess: I have had my Twitter account for five years with only an occasional tweet. I recently become more active, in part because I now help manage a Twitter account through work and also because more of my friends and colleagues are using the platform. You can follow me @PriceCynthia.

I figured a steep learning curve would await me so I signed up for an online class to learn more and quickly. If you are thinking of using Twitter or have an account – and like me – haven’t done much with it, here are a few things I’ve learned.

Twitter birdThe first thing you need to do is claim your Twitter handle. You can use your name, your company name or create something clever. Keep in mind that your handle is part of how you will brand yourself. Once you have done that, you should fill out your profile and upload an image. You should also create a Twitter background, which, if appropriate, should resemble the colors, format and logo from your personal or corporate website.

Like any communications platform, you shouldn’t use Twitter as a one-way megaphone. Instead, retweet (when you share another person’s tweet) and tweet relevant information with your followers. My friends were pleased when I shared “@Starbucks made #PSL available early.”

For those who are just learning, that line might not make sense. The @sign tags or identifies the handle of a person on Twitter. In this case, @Starbucks references the company based in Seattle. A pound sign is used to aggregate messages of a similar nature, and is known as a hashtag. My tweet with #PSL was about pumpkin spice latte. I already knew that the drink had a hashtag associated with it.

While there is a dictionary with some hashtags. You can make up your own, too. At a recent conference I attended we used the hashtag #NFPW14SC. Anyone attending the 2014 NFPW conference in South Carolina used this tag and anyone who wanted to know what was being said about the conference could search for this hashtag.

One word of caution about hashtags: Don’t overuse them as they can fragment the conversation.

Another tool to use on Twitter are lists, which are a great way to organize others into groups. You can make your lists private or public, and you can follow lists that others have already created. For example, I created a list for several publications whose content I fine useful. However, when I was following them, they were filling my Twitter feed and it was challenging to find content from others. I stopped following them and created a list. Now when I want to peruse the latest from these magazines, I check my magazine list and can find all the relevant stories.

Because tweets disappear quickly from a screen and because I don’t scroll through my feed frequently, lists are helpful for finding those who only tweet occasionally. I created a list that includes members of one of the professional groups with which I belong. This way, I don’t miss relevant posts.

I hope to see you on Twitter! If you are, feel free to post a comment with your Twitter handle.

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