My Best Twitter Advice

I do not claim to be a Twitter Expert. Frankly, I detest the titles: Expert, Guru, or Genius when it comes to the internet in any form because it changes so quickly. I prefer to call myself a Social Media Student, a fitting term that I admit to stealing from @WorkingMomsNtwk. As a student of Twitter, this is what I have learned:

1. LISTEN first. If you are new to the platform, just be still for a short while and listen to what goes on.
2. TRUST YOUR GUT: Ignore all of the ‘geniuses’ who tell you to pay attention to things like Follow/Following ratio; I once read advice telling me I was a Twitter Loser if I followed more people than followed me. My ‘asinine’ alarm went off. Follow whomever you find interesting and reach out if you feel the urge.
3. BE GIVING: Share information and knowledge with anyone who asks. There is a karma-train in the Social Media World and favors have a way of coming back to you.
4. GET INVOLVED: Use the Direct Message function to connect with other people. And if you want everyone to see it, use a character, any character, before the @HANDLE of whomever you’re messaging.
5. DON’T BE DISINGENUOUS: The Autotweet is one of the most overused, ineffective tools on the internet. Thanking anyone automatically is what Social Media ISN’T about. Be REAL.
6. OBEY SALES RULE 101: You would not walk up to a stranger, say ‘hi,’ and immediately try to sell them your wares. Auto-tweeting “Thanks for the follow, please buy ______” is just as obnoxious.
7. UNDERSTAND THE HASHTAG: Using the # symbol before a word allows other Tweeps to find tweets on that topic. Overusing the Hashtag is like the boy crying wolf; everyone will start to ignore your cries. Misusing it can be a PR nightmare. See Kenneth Cole’s bonehead mistake to understand.
8. GET REAL: If you do it right, you’ll bump into some special people on Twitter. Don’t stop there; make an effort to meet up in real life and develop real-life relationships.
9. STAY INVOLVED: Not tweeting for days on end is not an option if you want to really use this medium for all it’s worth. You must participate to reap the benefits.
10. LISTEN MORE: Eventually you’ll follow so many Tweeps that you’ll lose track of key people unless you go out of your way to stay connected to them; Make Lists, and head over to their page regularly to see what they’re putting out. Just like real life, you’ve got to work on the special relationships to maintain them.

Mostly, don’t make it a chore. Social Media is supposed to fun, educational, inspiring, and FUN. If it starts to feel like a job what’s the point? Make sure you follow some people just because they’ll put a smile on your face once a day.