A Twitter Tutorial for Beginners

A lot of attention continues to be focused on the question of whether there is any true marketing or business value in investing in Social Media Marketing.

Our opinion is that while people remain drawn and gather in large numbers to engage and spend time on social networking sites it is worth being flexible in your choice of marketing channels.

As with any form of marketing it always pays to be where ever crowds of your prospects gather together.

So if you haven't yet dipped your toe into the murky water of social media marketing then this will be a good place to start.

Rather than rush through how to get up and running with every possible social network available, we'll focus on Twitter.

The dilemma for most people when they first set up a Twitter account is that they don't know what to do next. Mainly because Twitter uses it's own language (with special words and terms for pretty common things) which on first glance are ambiguous and not particularly intuitive.

Twitter: An Overview

To start you need to understand how communication with Twitter works and what these strange terms and words actually mean.

Twitter has a broadcast model; you can think of it as being like television. When you set up an account it's like getting your very own TV channel.

Every time you update (send a Tweet; a Tweet is an update message) you're broadcasting your message to whoever is tuned in and interested in what you are communicating. That also means, if you want to see, hear or be notified about things going on on Twitter you have to tune in to other people's channels (or find a stream of updates that have been aggregated on a particular topic).

In Twitter language messages you send or receive are called Tweets. In your Twitter account profile the number of Tweets you send are displayed as a running tally called 'Updates'.

In your profile you'll also have a value for 'Followers' (these are the people tuned in to your channel) and a value for 'Following' (these are the people who's channel you are tuned into). When you first set up your Twitter account all your profile information and these values will be blank.

Tips for Setting Up Your Twitter Profile

The first thing to do when you set up your Twitter account is to personalize your profile. Basically fill in the fields of a profile form with information about yourself or the personality that is your brand or business.

  1. Avoid using your logo and instead use a photograph with people in it for your profile picture.
  2. Use your primary keywords in your profile Bio and include a link to a squeeze or landing page in the Bio.
  3. Create a special page on your website especially for Twitter Followers and use the URL for this page for the website link in your profile. Doing this gives you an opportunity to target and connect with these visitors more intimately.
  4. In your profile settings avoid the option to protect your updates. You want as many people as possible to easily see your Tweets.
  5. Customize the colors and design of your profile page.

Free Twitter Backgrounds

On point 5, because you're just starting out to see if Twitter will work for you you'll want to avoid the cost of a professional designer until your results justify the investment, so here are 5 websites where you'll be able to get Free Twitter Backgrounds.

  1. Custom Backgrounds For Twitter
  2. Twitter Images
  3. Twitrounds
  4. Twitr Backgrounds
  5. Tweetxilla

Social Identities have put together a super easy video and tutorial on how to get your Free Twitter Background set up for your profile as well as change the other colors and different design features.

What to Tweet?

With your Twitter account now looking good you're ready to think about the messages you'll update your channel with.

The most successful marketers on Twitter say the stick with a handful of keyword phrases as their guide for Tweets.

What this means for you is - pick between 2 and 5 of your best performing keywords and ensure that every update you Tweet has absolute relevance to one of the keyword phrases.

For example. Imagine your niche is weight loss and the best keyword phrases for you are -

  • 'lose 10 pounds calculator';
  • 'lose weight healthy quick';
  • 'obesity causes chart';
  • 'best weight loss pills' and
  • 'exercise calories burned calculator'.

In this case you'd pick a couple of these keyword phrases and use them as the subject/topics that you Tweet about. That means you don't use these keywords as the message of every update but you do use them to inspire and at the same time restrict what you Tweet about.

You've got your subjects so now it's time to put pen to paper and write down or type into word document as many messages as you can think of. They can even be the same message just reworded or with a word swapped around here and there (like you'd get when using an article spinner).

There are only 160 characters (that includes letters, numbers, punctuation and blank spaces) to communicate your message in, so it can be challenging at first. One way to handle this until you get used to being super concise is to write your sentences out as normal then remove all the surplus words (the words that when you take them out don't change the meaning of your message). Next substitute any long words with shorter equivalent words or special characters (swap 'and' with '&' for example) this is where a thesaurus comes in handy.

Get yourself as long a list of messages as you have time for right now. The longer your list the longer you'll be able to go without having to worry about updating and managing your Twitter account later on.

When to Tweet

Because Twitter is like a television channel that's broadcasting across every timezone, you'll want to work out when is the best time to get in front of your target market.

Sysomos.com conducted an extensive study on Twitter and its usage in 2009, they kindly followed this first study up with another 2010. According to their data they suggest that between 11am and 3pm (EST) is when there's the most activity on Twitter which makes it a good time to find others looking at Tweets.

The general consensus among Twitter marketers is to find the right time slots for your target market by randomly updating for the first few months and find out how people react to your Tweets (see if they click through on links, work out when you get more followers etc).

There's a lot of conflicting data on how often in a given 24 hours period to Tweet. Our advice is to be modest and consider something in the order of 8 Tweets and then slowly increase the number from there. Keep an eye on how people are responding and as soon as you see an negative impact reduce the number of Tweets.

Making this all Automated

Measuring, testing and getting Tweets out at all hours of the day and night is crazy unless you are able to automate and because you're a busy entrepreneur there really is no other option.

Luckily there are hundreds of Social Media Dashboards (online software that allows you to automate your social media marketing) that can manage all of this and more for you. The most popular being HootSuite because it allows you to give your entire team access to managing your social media and TweetDeck because of it's mobile app support which allows you to send and receive no matter where you are.

Pretty much any Social Media Dashboard you choose will give you a huge number of options for managing and reporting on your social media activities, all you need to do is pick the one that best suits your needs.

During the set up process for your Social Media Dashboard you will be guided to link to your Twitter account, once this is done you're almost ready to send out Tweets.

There is one last technology that you'll need to have access to use and that's a URL shortener. The most popular one you may have head of is Bit.ly however both HootSuite and TweetDeck have their own built-in URL shorteners. That means that all your click through and URL tracking happens in the one place your Social Media Dashboard.

Finally you can enter and schedule your list of update messages into your Social Media Dashboard. You select the time and day and the software will take care of sending it out to Twitter and then tracking to see who clicks on any links you attach to the messages.

Getting Followers

With all the technology finally up and running you can now turn your attention to people; and in Twitter that means getting Followers.

As someone with a brand new blank Twitter account the best way to start is to follow other people first. However you want to make sure that you're following people who are interested in the same things as you are going to Tweet about, so you're looking to follow people who are already Tweeting about similar things.

For example, going back to the weight loss niche; you'd look for and follow people who are celebrity personal trainers, such as 'The Biggest Loser' trainers, authors of weight loss books, celebrity dietitians and other popular people in the weight loss industry.

Now that you're Following some people all that's left to do is wait for your schedule of Tweets to be sent and see what happens next.

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