As Twitter becomes the most buzzed about social network of 2011 many people are still asking themselves “How do I use it?” Unless you lived under a rock for the last few years you already know Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that allows people to send updates up to a 140 characters long. You can send your updates via mobile devices, sms, computers etc. Until recently Twitter has been the domain of the Technorati and brands trying to engage their audiences. It has become a wonderful service for expanding brand awareness, real-time customer service, networking and randomn laug-out-loud rants.
Twitter HQ announced a total redesign last month in an effort to simplify the short messaging service. Twitter version 4.0 is attempting to reduce the esoteric features like # hashtags and @ symbols making the service more approachable for the average person. Twitter is also maturing into a full blown social network and trending service that is becoming extremely powerful.
So whether you are a newbie or a veteran with a 100,000 followers there are some essential tools and best practices on how to twitter:
Manage your outgoing feed.
In order to control your Twitter addiction and not waste time in your work day consider utilizing tools like Buffer, Hootsuite or TweetDeck. These posting tools will assist in scheduling tweets over the course of a whole week or month. Take one or two hours a week and build authority & influence. You can still be spontaneous when the need arises but this way you’ll always have a tweet in the queue.
Manage your inbound feed.
Streamline your follow list and enhance your signal to noise ratio. Stop following people who hog your twitter feed or deadbeats that don’t use it.
Be involved. Be Active.
Like any social network, being involved will pay dividends. Be sure to join relevant chats sessions. For example, if you are intersted in PR you may want to follow #prchat. You should pickup at least 2 or 3 followers per chat session this way. It also helps to search Twitter by keywords and follow influencers and other relevant people in your vertical. If your at a loss for who the real influencers may be check services like Kred, Klout and PeerIndex.
Be sure to pay particular attention to your analytics and metrics from the tools discussed above. This will reveal the optimal time to send tweets for retweets and clickthroughs. Interesting tweets, funny tweets and relevant tweets will keep things fresh for your followers. Futhermore, don’t freak out when some followers drop off from following. In the end it’s better to have 300 dedicated followers than 600 followers that could care less.