Pauline Monot - Content Manager, Online Media Today
By Pauline Monot – Online Media Today

After reading my previous article summarizing the 5 reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid of becoming a new Twitter user, I hope you’ve made up your mind to start tweeting. Yet, even after reading my last post, some of you might ask how you should proceed.  Well, there are simple steps to follow.  The most important things to remember when reviewing each of these First Steps to Using Twitter is to always think like you would have when developing new face-to-face relationships.

Below are the steps I recommend following when starting on Twitter:
Learn the Basics: If you know little about Twitter, now is a good time to familiarize yourself with some of the basics and the terminology used in the twitter-verse.

Define Your Goals: You first have to determine your Twitter strategy.  Twitter enables to reach a wide variety of goals.  Above all, be focused.  Ask yourself these questions: “What do I want to accomplish with Twitter?  Which benefits do I expect from Twitter?  Will I use Twitter to market my services or simply as a tool to establish myself as an industry thought leader?  To be successful, which niche(s) do I have to target?”  Here is the trick: even if your goals are professional, keep mentions of your personal life to occasions similar to when you would do so in the course of your normal business life.

Create Your Profile: The next thing is to jump right in and create your Twitter account.  Then, establish your identity making it consistent with your strategy: fill out your name, your bio, your website, and make sure to upload your picture (Tip: know your audience and make sure your picture represents the image you want to portray).  Few will want to follow you without a picture so make sure you give some thought to this.  I don’t recommend it but you can always use an avatar if you are not as comfortable with a personal photo. You might also use your company logo instead.  Having a personalized background is also of utmost importance to grab people’s attention.  Twitter includes basic online tools that help you to do create backgrounds that fit your personality.  If Twitter template leave you unsatisfied, have a look at other Twitter backgrounds to help inspire you.  Social media expert, Tamar Weinberg’s, background is one of my favorites:
Tamar Weinberg's Twitter Page
Tamar Weinberg's Twitter Page
Find People to Follow and to be Followed by: There are two basic types of Twitter users: the broadcasters, like marketers (and some famous people), who only push out content, and the communicators, those with whom you can expect a 2-way conversation and whose numbers of followings are more or less equal to the number of followers.  

As a first step consider follow friends, then celebrities, and finally people you may not know but who are identified as people who may be interested in your subject matter.  When just starting out, a good rule of thumb is not to exceed more than 20 followers.  Try to mix both some broadcasters and communicators but try to avoid pushing too much of the broadcasters tweets out to the communicators in your network.  Some useful online tools like WeFollow enable you to search followers according to specific criteria (industry,subject matter, etc.), but be prepared to see that many of the results will be focused more on the broadcasters.  

Google proves to be a powerful tool when it comes to finding great people to follow.  Tip: to find the tweets related to your target and local geography, type in the Google search field: “specific interest” “geography” site:twitter.com”.  For example, if you type sailing "Los Angeles" site:twitter.com, you will find a list of people interested in the sailing community who live in the greater Los Angeles Area.
Google Search Example
Google Search Example
There are also other search options on Google.

Find People to be Followed by: the good thing is that you’ve already found your first followers! Indeed, some of them will decide to follow you back.  Don’t worry so much if you don’t get each of them to follow you back.  And also don’t forget to thank each person who follows you by sending them a personal message. You can also use your personal note of thanks to remind him/her of your goals at that time.

Listen and Get Informed of what is being said within the niche(s) you have targeted.  Start reading your followers tweets and, if they have linked to an article (likely on their website or blog), make sure to read that as well.  Learn what they are all about, understand what they are interested in, and how you can add value by either re-tweeting their tweets or even posting a response on their blog.  This is a tremendous opportunity to engage with your followers in personal ways.  Remember, social networking is largely ego driven.  People want to know they are being heard.  Take time to tell them what you think and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they will start to listen to what you have to say (and re-tweet your posts!).

Then Start to Interact with your Audience Before Your First Tweet.  As stated above, re-tweet some relevant tweets and make sure to thank your followers for a relevant link they provide you.

Now you are ready for Your First Tweets!  Start asking questions, help others by pushing their tweets out to your followers and provide feedback when it’s relevant.  Tip: At first don’t tweet too much and don’t use the @ sign too often (the @ sign will be discussed in my next post).

The thing is to be patient.  Don’t be too eager to tweet.  You should know that it will probably take at least three months to build both an audience and a reputation.  But, by following these simple steps, you can count on developing relationships with people who will help you accomplish your goals on Twitter.

Tell us about your first experiences on Twitter?  How long did it take you to build an audience?  What is your feedback about the methods described in this article?  Did any of these tips work for you or do you have others to recommend?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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About the Author

Pauline Monot is the Content Manager and oversees Online Media Today's overall content strategy.  A professional management consultant, Pauline graduated from Ecole Centrale de Lyon, a top-10 ranked French engineering and management school.  She has spent her lenghty consulting career working abroad with a variety of Fortune 100 companies.  Pauline segued her extensive background in leading critical business process mission into new areas such as Public Relations and online marketing.  Pauline is a native of Paris, France and has recently relocated with her husband from Western Europe to Pasadena, California.
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