The Twitter in five easy steps

The Twitter

The Twitter

I really like “the” Twitter. It’s better than “the” Facebook and many times, it rocks a lot harder than “the” Linkedin.

Is my use of “the” annoying you? It’s how my sister and I talk about “the” social media networks and many other things. It’s a long story and it involves too many sordid details to represent here, but let me tell you, Mister Man, it’s a cocker of a tale that I’ll tell you about in some later post, so don’t change that channel, chummy!

I’m going to break out some information that’s totally unscientific. It’s  anecdotal from observing people and how they react when the subject of social media is discussed. This is especially pertinent based upon my experience with business people. Twitter boggles their minds. Facebook is doable, Linkedin’s a bit of a stretch, but that Twitter thingy; well it’s just too hard to get a handle on.

Why is that?

A few years ago, I attended the annual Maine HR Convention at the Samoset Resort, where it takes place every year in May. The morning keynote speaker that day, a dynamic guy named Ryan Estis, had a room full of about 500 people stand and then, he started putting us back in our seats by asking the following questions:

“How many of you use some form of social media?” The room was still on its feet save maybe one or two people.

“How many of you have a Facebook account.” A few more sat down.

Then he moved to Linkedin, and about half of the room was now sitting.

When he went to Twitter, all but three of us were left standing. Out of a room of approximately 500 people, the majority of them HR professionals, only three were using Twitter. Actually, of the three of us still standing, I think two of us were representing the non-HR fraternity.

Granted, this was back in 2010, and the following year, a few more HR leaders began using Twitter. The good folks putting on this big HR soiree now include a Maine HR# hashtag in the conference details, but Twitter isn’t blowing up here in Maine and it isn’t elsewhere, just check out this report put out by Pew Internet this past year.

I like Twitter. I think you should also. My sister is now using Twitter. You should follow her and her blogging. She’s known as Aunt Tomato and she knows her tomatoes, kohlrabi, and just about anything else related to gardening.

If you don’t like this post, you can blame her because she asked me to write about  “the” Twitter.

She has a point, though.

I’m still baffled by the people I know that when Twitter gets mentioned, their eyes cross and they start to twitch. Facebook is fine, but I don’t consider your claim of being social media savvy valid merely based upon the fact that you keep sending me invitations to play some stupid game.

Here are my five steps to Twitter bliss.

  1. Sign up for an account

Duh! Well, you have to have an account if you’re going to tweet. And yes, it’s called “tweeting,” not “twittering.” If you twitter, you’re probably a twit.

  1. Dive in and start following others

It’s not hard. Start following some people that tweet regularly. For instance, all you HR non-tweeters, how about following Laurie Ruettimann? Or Ryan Estis? Both of them are HR rock stars nationally, so follow them. See how they do it.

Find other Twitter “celebrities” that are part of things that interest you. If you like sports, follow Jim Rome, or some other sports talker, or follow some pro athlete.

  1. Understand the #hashtag

Twitter is all about the hashtag. Learn about it and use it wisely. Know there’s a difference between hashtags and hash pipes.

I’ve been Tweeting for three years, but I still mess up the hashtag now and then. Don’t add space, or insert en dashes. I did the other morning with my #self-help hash tag that should have been written without the dash. I ended up linking to “#self and pictures of women taking pictures of their cleavage. Oh well; we never stop learning, do we?

  1. Engage with others

Follow people back if they follow you. Begin some conversations. Take some each morning to scroll through your feed. I allot 5 minutes in the morning and five minutes at night. I find Twitter’s a great news aggregator and a damn good filter.

  1. Keep honing your social media skills

There are two types of people in the world; those that continue to learn and grow and the other group that doesn’t. I find the latter group all grumpy about social media, especially Twitter. Maybe think about using that as a new tool for weeding the boring people out of your life.

Yes, there are always new tools coming down the pike, but knowing how to communicate and communicating well means making a commitment. Make one and stop being an old fuddy-duddy.

You can handle Twitter if you give it a try, trust me on this one.