Ready, Set, Tweet!

Okay, after reading all about Twitter, you’re finally ready to open your account. Here are 10 guidelines to follow from the Influential Marketing Blog.

1. Choose as short a username as possible. This really makes a difference when people are trying to retweet your links and include your username, but only have 140 characters to do it.

2. Think hard about your thumbnail. For many methods of browsing Twitter, your thumbnail is the only bio information that comes through along with your username, so try make a statement with it that says something about you.

3. Select a bio link wisely. Twitter offers you the chance to put a single link in to let people click and learn more about you. Don’t just automatically assume your homepage is best for this, think about whether there is a better bio page to link to.

4. Use your background to share more info. The image you use for the background of your Twitter page is one of the few things you can brand and change. To take advantage, use the left sidebar to share more about you (and try to make it no more than 200 pixels wide). You can also use a service like Twitter Backgrounds.

5. Follow other people (judiciously). This is a basic premise, but nothing demonstrates more that you are a twanker than following no one back. And if you can, try to make it more than just 10 people. Conversely, though, there is no social obligation to follow everyone who follows you.

6. Reply to @ messages. An “@ message” is when someone types @[yourusername]. That means they are either just mentioning you, or trying to connect with you directly. Either way, the more of these you respond to, the more you can engage with Twitter.

7. RT often and strategically. A retweet (RT) is the Twitter equivalent of forwarding an email. Usually it’s done with the syntax RT @[username] followed by the exact text you are retweeting. They are a great way to let your content travel, as well as share tweets created by others.

8. Leave room for retweets. Calculate how many characters your username is (for example, my username “rohitbhargava” has 13 characters). Now add 4 characters for “RT @” – and in my case I get 17 characters. This means that if I want to let people retweet my messages without losing part of the message, my tweet should be no longer than 140 minus 17, or 123. Generally when I tweet something I want to get retweeted, I will therefore make sure it is less than 123 characters.

9. Refer to people by their Twitter names on Twitter. Imagine Twitter is like a play and every user is like an actor. You wouldn’t call a fellow actor by their name on stage, you would use their character’s name. Twitter is the same way – so if you happen to link to me or this post, make sure you call me @rohitbhargava so others can see my name and follow me.

10. Allow and respond to DMs. DMs (or direct messages) are private messages that anyone who follows you can send to you directly without posting them publicly on Twitter. It is one of the few private communications methods on Twitter and is a great way to have longer and more significant conversations with your connections on Twitter if you take advantage of it.

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