When Twitter launched in 2006, it was as a simple social network; a place for a quick status update. It grew like crazy — 302 million monthly users by this March — as we discovered its countless uses. Now Twitter is an essential way to communicate, with incredible power to improve our lives.
Many have mastered its 140-character format — showing enthusiasm and energy and engagement, building networks both socially and professionally (in many cases these overlap). Fortunes have been made via Twitter; careers forged; more than a few matches made. But there are two things we haven’t all mastered: how to tweet without regret, and how to utilize this fast, agile, endlessly changing format for good.
Here are seven top tips to become a power user on Twitter — with no regrets:
Once it’s out there, it’s out there.
The speed of a tweet sometimes eclipses the self-awareness or the tweeter. And even if technically you can do a Tweet-and-delete, the message may have still reached other timelines, allowing someone to re-tweet it before you can try and make it go away. Even if Twitter feels like a virtual water cooler, it’s not: unlike the water cooler, here, what you say is essentially recorded: it doesn’t go away.
Follow me, I’ll follow you.
Who you follow is what will show up on your Twitter feed and drive your own Twitter experience (and your followers’). So cast a wide net, but look for like-minded people with compelling presences. There are many ways to attract, but two basics: what you post, and what your image is. With a defined image: you’ll not only get more followers, you’ll get more followers you want.
We tweet to convey sheer emotion, virtual high-fives, encyclopedic knowledge. Unfortunately the standout posts are sometimes the most toxic ones, expressing carelessness or disregard. Again, Twitter is its own organism: you get back what you put into it. So exercise good etiquette. If you want to deepen a conversation to a more personal (or candid) level with someone, consider direct messaging. It’s a way to avoid exposure for both parties. As a result, no one is at the risk of getting called out, and no one gets offended.
Make everyone feel special
A key attribute of successful thought leaders is that they take care to not alienate their readers. Pay attention to how they do it, and you’ll learn your own style of building an authentic rapport with your own followers. On Twitter, make the effort to make each and everyone who visits your page feel special — with a gesture, like a retweet, or a kind comment, however basic.
You’re under a magnifying glass
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Twitter’s ever-changing feed and micro format means your posts have less of an impact. The opposite is true: Twitter is a magnifying glass. Before every tweet, check your intention. As you tweet, confirm your choice of words. After you tweet, read it, and think about it: is this what you meant? Is this your best voice? Then, finally, click.
Be conscious of time zones:
Twitter is a global social network, so exercise global awareness: we all live in different time zones. It’s a good practice to schedule tweets (there are great apps for this) throughout all 24 hours of the day, so you’re out there, reaching followers. A round-the-clock presence shows you’re inclusive, and demonstrates that you’re interested and engaged in the largest community, and you are making the effort to be present when they are present.
Use all the bells and whistles.
Lurking, especially now, is considered bad form: it’s like being a perpetual eavesdropper who has nothing nice to say. One key way to show you’re an active participant is to transcend the timeline. Take advantage of the many spaces Twitter offers to enhance your presence and express yourself: chats, tweetups, livetweeting opportunities, and lists. Learn and use them all, and you’ll be conveying a positive, fully engaged presence.
Twitter’s eleventh birthday is coming up, and it’s still growing. Given how fast it works, we all need to take a minute, slow down, and be conscious of what we’re putting out there. It may slow down the process, and that may feel counter-intuitive, but actually, it’s the reverse. More so than nearly any other medium, we are what we say, when we say it, and who we know. The good news is that Twitter magnifies everything, and so your positivity will come back to you in spades. So happy birthday, Twitter!