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.