Twitter can feel like an overwhelming place. Tons of short updates scroll by so fast that it’s impossible to read every one. How do you know what to focus on? What can you get out of Twitter that you can’t just find somewhere else, minus the headache? And why would anyone want to know what you had for breakfast anyway?
If you’re new to Twitter, or just haven’t really gotten into it yet, I think you should give it a good try for a month. It’s tricky to totally understand a social media channel until you participate for a sustained period of time and experience how it really works. I think once you get in there for real, you’ll find Twitter to be a great way to pursue your interests, get breaking news, and enrich your day-to-day life.
If you have a mobile phone, installing the Twitter app will make it convenient to access Twitter in your down time. Here’s a plan to get started enjoying Twitter:
- Open it everyday (or every weekday).
- Read through your feed for 5 minutes.
- Respond to 3 people. Add your thoughts to a conversation that’s already taking place, ask a question, or compliment someone on their work. If someone has tweeted to you, respond to them.
- Tweet 3 things that come from you. These can be ideas, behind-the-scenes snapshots, links to articles you found interesting, new shop listings, blog posts you’ve written, etc.
Try fully participating for a few weeks so that you become well-versed in the little bits of special language used on Twitter and feel comfortable in the space.
The real fun of any social media platform comes from who you follow, and Twitter is no different. Start by following designers, bloggers, and brands you already like. Then click on a particular person’s profile to see who they’re following for more ideas. The more people you follow, the more you’ll get out of Twitter.
These are the categories of people and companies I follow that make Twitter worth reading every day:
- craft publishing houses, agents, and editors
- craft magazines and their editors
- indie sewing pattern designers
- media outlets writing about entrepreneurship and their editors
- ecommerce platforms like Etsy and the people who run them
- craft supply manufacturers and the CEOs of those companies
- sewing retreats, conferences, and trade show companies
- apps and tech companies making neat things for creatives
- local news outlets
- people doing neat projects
- people who make me laugh
My husband is into military history, the bond market, and craft beer. As you can imagine, he follows a totally different set of people than I do, but he loves Twitter just as much. Whatever you’re curious about, Twitter makes that thing come alive in real-time.
Here are some of the things I’ve been able to do through Twitter that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise:
- Have casual conversations with people I’d never have access to otherwise. On Twitter I’ve been able to chat with Chad Dickerson, Melanie Falick, Mark Frauenfelder, and Guy Kawasaki, for example.
- Get stuff fixed. I’ve used Twitter to get my cable service turned back on quickly (tweet a complaint to a company and often they’ll address your problem right away).
- Find out what’s going on in my town. By following my local weather guy and a local blogger I know what’s happening where I live, moment to moment. During the Boston Marathon bombing last year Twitter was the quickest and best source of news because it allows everyone to report what they see in real-time.
- Get breaking news in your industry. I’m curious about mergers and new ventures. When Creativebug was bought by Demand Media (owner of eHow) or when Wilton acquired Simplicity I knew about it the day the news was announced.
- Form relationships with people I’d like to know. I’ve met at least a dozen people on Twitter that have become real life friends.
- Drive traffic to my blog. Twitter is consistently one of my top 10 referrers.
- Laugh. There are some people who have the excellent talent of composing a hilarious sentence in 140 characters multiple times a day every day. Following those feeds makes me laugh out loud, and for that I’m very grateful.
If you’re not sure where to start, I thought I’d share six Twitter accounts that make my day more interesting. Add these and see if they do the same for you:
- Tina Roth Eisenberg – Founder of Tattly and Creative Mornings, Tina knows about great stuff.
- Fast Company – A business magazine with fascinating articles for creative entrepreneurs
- Megan Amram – Hilarious and raunchy and bizarre.
- Jen Corace – Illustrator Jen Corace has great wit and she can draw.
- Steff Bomb – Self-deprecating plush maker extraordinaire.
- The Fake Pinterest – “Only eat the strawberry SEEDS. That is the only healthy part,” and more.
How are you feeling about Twitter? Are there things you knew about, or people you connected with, that only happened because of Twitter? Reservations that are still lingering?
See you there for little updates on what I’m working on, links to cool stuff, and periodic snarky comments about life.
I love love love Fast Company. I just got a subscription to Wired, if you don’t/haven’t read it – poking around to find their twitter feed now because I’m really enjoying a bunch of their articles and some remind me of Fast Company’s style/genre(s).
Fast Company rocks.
Thanks for the Twitter info. I’ve had an account for several months but rarely look at it. I will check out your referrals.
Go for it! Twitter is awesome.
I’ve only just recently begun to understand how to use Twitter more effectively. I’m still not participating on it to the fullest but it’s becoming more and more a part of my regular routine for the reasons you’ve listed here. Yours is the best description I’ve read on the benefits of Twitter – I’ll point my Social Media doubting clients here (in rural UK there are a LOT of doubters).
One of my favourites to follow is Russell Brand, his “trews” videos are hilarious. Like many celebrities though, his comment stream is full of trolls. I found Jesse Thorn through your podcast recommendations and love his Twitter feed too. Thanks for more great suggestions.
That’s awesome. I totally recommend trying Twitter for a while and following some people that interest you. It’s worthwhile. And I love Jesse Thorn.
Thanks for the tips, I have Twitter and I have a fair number of followers (not really even sure how that happened LOL) but it still intimidates me for some reason. Your tips will help a little with getting over that I think.
Don’t be afraid. It flows by so fast that you really can’t make too big of a mistake. If you write a few strange tweets, don’t worry. Just jump in and see what you can learn and read out. I love it!
I’ve avoided Twitter for exactly that reason – I didn’t want to know what someone ate. Thank you for guiding me into this new era – sheesh I feel old!
Well, great! I love Twitter and I think anyone could love it. It’s just sorta weird to fully understand at first.
Kim Werker says
Twitter has been a huge part of my freelance business for years, now. It’s my medium for chatting with far-flung colleagues and contacts, and I’ve connected with several clients who came to me – in full or in part – because of Twitter (you first contacted me on Twitter about editing your book, Abby!). Though Instagram gets loads of attention now, and for good reason, Twitter remains a very important part of my work day. Also, I love it for fun!
Yes! I first learned that you were an editor via a Tweet. I’ve made so many business connections via Twitter over the past few years. It’s so valuable for that, and as you said it’s also really fun.
Thank you for this post. I’ve been meaning to get into twitter for a while now and even have an account but never quite knew where to start… I might have another go now and see if I can make it work for myself.
Twitter is so mysterious at first. What is it all about and what is it for? I truly think the best way to figure it out is to just follow interesting feeds and get on there for a few minutes every day. I totally love it!
Cheryl Arkison says
I’m with you, I love Twitter! I can’t believe I resisted it for so long. And great tips.
Twitter is awesome. I met you there, Cheryl!
Abby, don’t really get Twitter but your blog post inspired me to give it another try. My last Tweet was in 2012. LOL. I just tweeted twice about a marking template I created for jewelry crafts and your blog post. I don’t sew but have found your blog inspiring. Good work Abby.
I saw you on there this morning! Good for you. I hope you enjoy Twitter.
Great info re Twitter. Must get back into it. To be honest I had no clue how it worked until I got a young mentor to explain it to me. It is amazing.