I’ve been using Twitter since January 2009. The day I started to use it was the snowiest day of my London life, and no tubes, trains or buses were running. I was working at home and I decided it was about time I signed up to Twitter. Late in 2008 Stephen Fry had made headlines for being active on Twitter, and I think that this in combination with being interested in social media prompted me to join.
I’ve used my Twitter accounts very differently over the years and can look at my use of Twitter as a journey. I’ve had three personal different accounts and I’ve managed some corporate brand account as well.
In my personal accounts I’ve shared professional knowledge and inspirational thoughts, I’ve used Twitter to connect with people at events, I’ve live-tweeted from events, I’ve built up many interesting lists of people to follow (some lists are public and some private), I’ve been inactive for some periods and I’ve also been hyper active. Sometimes I’m more random in the thoughts I share and sometimes more targeted.
A few years ago when I decided to be more focused with my Twitter communications I got a lot more followers very quickly. One of the secrets behind getting more followers was that I was thoughtful and shared ideas that were both provocative and emotional.
And I guess this is part of the secret how to create a feeling of shared human conditions. This is something that many writers and storytellers do very well.
Is Twitter for everyone?
Yes and no. I think the answer is in a grey area and you need to decide whether you would like to use an extra communication channel. We all have different communication styles, but I think we can agree that our communication styles have changed over the last few years and that Twitter can be worth exploring.
Twitter for networking
I’m a keen networker and I freely share knowledge and connect with the people I meet, so for me being on social media enriches my network and helps me to keep my network alive. Even as an experienced social media user I sometimes find online tools confusing. There is a lot to take in and our online behaviour changes all the time – not to forget the random design changes that occur every now and then.
It’s about learning and exploring
If you want to tweet like a pro you need to start building your communication muscles and be open to learning new things. We all feel a bit blocked when it comes to sharing our thoughts, feeling and emotions online.
In my experience it is when we are more personal and get others to engage with both their brain and their heart that we connect. But of course, that’s not to say that you have to share all of your stresses and every emotional experience of your life online.
What you say and share is very much up to you and it reflects who you are. If you compare an experienced leader and a young student, they both have unique voices and their online voices sound and feel very different. What matters is that you find what’s best for you.
I train and teach lots of different groups of people about how to use Twitter and other social media networks, and below is a summary of some of the different ways you can use the service. All in random order.
40 ways to use Twitter – you can:
- Share a news piece written by someone else (you show what you stand for by doing this)
- Research the latest news, events or gossip
- Show empathy to people who are going through a time of suffering
- Retweet interesting information
- Reply to a tweet
- Reply to someone’s reply to your tweet – an online conversation with short sentences
- Promote yourself as an expert
- Build your personal brand
- Get a new job by researching what’s out there
- Be found by someone who would like to employ you
- Connect with new people you’ve just met
- Recommend to someone that they check out a tweet you think they would like
- Meet the love of your life (some lucky people do)
- Humblebrag about what you are up to
- Openly brag about your life to make your followers feel jealous (this might not engage your followers if you do it too much)
- Connect with others during an event with the help of a common hashtag
- Have a live Twitter feed on the wall at events (I think this is fun)
- Check out people who went to the same event as you by searching for the event hashtag
- Complain about a brand and use their hashtag or @brandname (you may receive better customer service by doing so – this has happened to me several times)
- Share a photo from a memorable moment
- Write a short poem of 140 characters – maybe even a Haiku?
- Share your latest blog post
- Share a funny cartoon and write a witty comment
- Ask a question and hope that some kind individual will share their knowledge with you
- Do an ‘ask any questions’ hour for everyone and use your Twitter wall to share all answers – many brands and experts now do this
- Share best practice tips – I’ve done a top ’10 top Digital Leadership tips in 10 tweets’ several times
- Share photos of cool art you’ve seen
- Run a competition with a special hashtag
- Write short diary entries and let others see what you are up to
- Build lists of experts in different areas
- Tweet about your latest meal
- Highlight your concerns to a politician
- Campaign for equality or a better community / world / school / healthcare service – whatever you are interested in
- Follow celebrities and get a snapshot of their lives
- Use Vine and share videos in six-second bites
- Connect to your Instagram account and share images
- Promote your tweets
- Embed tweets in your blog – many newspapers do that now
- You can reinforce your branding and message with help of the top banner
- You can say #thankyou in public to someone who has helped you or inspired you. That’s very appreciated.
This list shows that you can tweet in an endless variety of ways – and that there are many options to find your voice and style with help of Twitter.
Share your thoughts, knowledge and ideas
Don’t let any judgmental thoughts, your own or others, stop you from exploring what you can do with online communication. We all have the inner critic talking to us in our head, and there are ways to acknowledge that, and become a better online communicator.
The good and bad sides of social media
As with all tools and inventions, you can use Twitter for good purposes or bad. I’m not a moral compass for you in your life, but I recommend that you are careful about how, with whom and where you share your thoughts. I think this is good general communication advice. Both the context and content matter for all of us online.
New course on how to use Twitter
If you are new to Twitter, or would like to explore how to find your voice on a deeper level, there are a few steps that will put you on the right track.
I run online courses for professionals on ‘How to use Twitter and tweet like pro’and if you are interested in the next one starting later in October please get in touch via email and I will tell you more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The course is run online with interactions over two weeks and we will be a group of like-minded people learning about Twitter together.
Thank you for tuning in.
P.S. My list is not exhaustive and I’m sure that Twitter users will invent many new ways to use the service