Last October, I spent four days in Orlando talking to many IT professionals that stopped by the BMC Social Media Hub at our Engage User Conference. We were giving away prizes to the attendees who tweeted photos of themselves wearing BMC sunglasses. The interest in our fun contest didn't surprise me, but the number of people who told us that they haven't used their Twitter account in a long time was unexpected. Watching people try to remember their Twitter password, load the app on their phone and/or send a tweet was a common occurrence at the Social Media Hub.
In my opinion, Twitter is the easiest social media channel to use and, unlike other channels, it lends itself to the merging of your personal and professional lives. Some people are intimidated (or irritated) by the constant stream of tweets, but once you learn a few Twitter tricks, it becomes a manageable and useful tool. Here are five suggestions to help you start using Twitter again.
1) Load the Twitter app on your phone. Having Twitter at your fingertips is one of the easiest ways to use it regularly. Check it in the morning to see the news that's trending, scroll through your Twitter feed when waiting in line to pick up your lunch and check out the hashtags being used while watching your favorite TV show. Once you start using Twitter daily, it becomes more interesting and valuable. I've learned about important breaking news stories on Twitter, long before they appeared on Google News.
2) Watch what's being talked about on Twitter. Instead of trying to figure out what to tweet about, spend some time reading your Twitter feed and see what other people are saying. Observing is a great way to learn about popular topics, see what's trending in your network and understand what makes an interesting tweet. Once you see something you want to talk about, retweet it or tweet a reply to the sender. The real time nature of Twitter makes it an easy place to jump in, connect and converse.
3) Favorite tweets. See the star under every tweet? That's how you favorite a tweet and it's a helpful tool. Use it to mark a tweet you'd like to come back to later, especially those with links to something you want to read. Your starred tweets are saved under "Favorites" in your Twitter profile and you can come back to them at any time. When you favorite a tweet, the sender sees this and it's a good way to acknowledge you read it and build connections on Twitter.
4) Be yourself. Twitter is sometimes called the never-ending cocktail party. The people at the Twitter party are your co-workers, family, friends, celebrities, athletes, politicians, customers and industry experts. Don't try to talk to everyone at the party or feel like you have to listen to every conversation. Choose who you interact with, be your smart, witty self, and have a good time. You'll end up "meeting" people you would never run into in your daily life and that's a great thing.
5) Use Buffer. Hands down, my favorite free social media tool is Buffer. Find it at bufferapp.com, connect it with your Twitter account and load the app on your phone. Buffer allows you to schedule up to ten tweets at a time for publishing on the days and times you select. As you find interesting articles online that you'd like to share, schedule them in Buffer. Have some cool photos on your phone that your followers might like? Don't tweet them all at once, but spread them out over a few days. Buffer is a fantastic way to be on Twitter all of the time without being on Twitter all of the time.
Once you start integrating Twitter into your day, it becomes a valuable way to stay informed and connected. There's a fascinating worldwide party going on out there and you don't want to miss it!
Have Twitter tips you would like to share? Please comment below. Follow me @alisonmunn for more social media tips and industry conversation.