(1) Get rid of the egg
Seriously. Who wants to interact with an unborn chicken?
Keeping the Twitter egg as your profile photo will make you look like a complete beginner or, even worse, give the impression you are a scammer or a troll.
Replace the egg with a personal profile picture. It’s simple to do and will make a huge difference to the number of followers you collect.
What photo should you upload? If you absolutely cannot bear the thought of having your face on Twitter, you could choose your pet, a favourite view, a flower, or something that represents you. I give some examples below:
- If you are football mad, go for a football related photo.
- If you love wine, go for a bottle and a couple of glasses.
- If you plan to use your Twitter account for your own business, you should use your business logo.*
Remember Twitter is a social media. People like to follow people.
* On the subject of business accounts, if you are a complete newcomer to Twitter I would advise setting up a personal account first and having a play around. Save your professional work for later, after you’ve got over the hump of the learning curve! Even so, it may be better to use a photo of yourself. People usually prefer to follow people, not brands – unless your business already has a substantial reputation or is a household name.
Nobody wants to follow an egg. Find a photo that shows your face. Choose a head and shoulders view, and crop into a square format. Then upload it.
(2) Give yourself a profile
People want an idea of what to expect if they follow you, and having a profile sets some context for your tweets.
You don’t have to share your life’s story. In fact, when you write your profile statement you only have 160 characters in which to make an impact, but I suggest you keep it even shorter and make it snappy. All you need to provide is a few words to introduce yourself.
I suggest your profile should contain as a minimum:
- Website, blog address or public Facebook page, if you have one.
- Your interests, or the sort of topics you plan to tweet about.
- Something quirky to make you look unique and interesting.
If you still don’t know what to say, take a look at other people’s profiles to see how they describe themselves. Here are some examples:
Love politics, football, good wine, and thrilling books. Hate time wasters.
I’m a lifelong chocoholic, writer and blogger who likes a bit of a walk, and needs to lose a few pounds.
A keen cyclist, Arsenal supporter and collector of lovesick poodles. Follow my football blog.
I tweet about books and films, and live in the most dangerous city in Europe.
Swimming the Atlantic for charity, because I want to make the world a better place. To donate go to my just giving page.
Don’t worry too much about getting this perfect at the start, because you can always refine and tweak your profile later.
Prove you are worth following by sharing a small amount of information about yourself. Don’t forget to link your blog or website, if you have one.
(3) Start tweeting!
If you want to be successful on Twitter, you need to Tweet.
I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people set up Twitter accounts and agonise over the number of followers they have – or haven’t – got, but don’t get down to the nitty-gritty. Tweeting.
You can’t sit in the corner and moan because nobody wants to talk to you. Get up and start chatting.
Celebrities are fun to follow, but they are unlikely to follow you back.
When you first join Twitter, you will automatically be presented with a selection of Twitter accounts to follow, depending on the interests you express. These accounts are usually official accounts, representing institutions, media outlets, politicians, celebrities, or other famous people.
To get the most from Twitter, I strongly advise you start following a selection of ordinary people.
- Import your contacts and find friends you know who are already on Twitter.
- Use the search box to find people who are tweeting about topics that interest you.
You can, if you wish, be a silent Twitter follower, standing on the sidelines and listening to everybody else. There is nothing wrong with that, many journos do it. But if you want some real followers, you need to do some real tweeting.
Twitter exists for tweeting. Don’t be shy. Tweet.
(4) Be nice
Stick to relatively safe topics – sports, hobbies, cooking, pets, positive thoughts, photos – until you’ve found your feet.
When you see other people posting interesting tweets, you can retweet or ‘heart’ them, or do both. Better still, send them a personal reply. Keep it lighthearted and simple to start with. If someone posts a joke, for example, sending them a smiley face in response is fine.
Don’t stand on a soapbox and shout. That’s rude! But don’t sit in the corner and sulk either.
If someone follows you, it’s good manners to follow back, unless the other person is somebody you really don’t want to follow because of their views, opinions, language, or because you don’t like the nature of their tweets. After a while you can become more choosy.
- Avoid contentious topics and confrontations, unless you’ve joined Twitter deliberately to express strong views about something. If your crusade is a popular one you may grow an immediate following. But be prepared to make enemies too. If you plan to be controversial you must expect to be on the receiving end of a string of aggressive and potentially offensive tweets.
- Don’t ‘Direct Message’ people. It’s irritating. If you don’t know what ‘Direct Messaging’ or DM means, don’t worry. Just don’t do it. (Unless someone asks you to, of course, because they want to share some confidential information. Then it’s fine.)
- Don’t post a string of adverts. You might be hoping to sell your latest book, or your editorial services, or your homemade jewellery, or whatever. Remember, people use Twitter to be entertained, to make friends, and to share information – not to buy stuff. If you post interesting tweets with photographs of your work, people will be attracted to you, and they will probably be attracted to your products too.
Behave on Twitter as you would in real life. Be kind, be considerate, be yourself. Just don’t take it all too seriously!
Joining Twitter is like joining a chaotic cocktail party, already in full swing when you arrive, and full of slightly drunken strangers.
Twitter can seem overwhelming at first. But don’t worry. You’ll soon find your feet. Follow people who look friendly. Show you’re a nice and interesting human being. Share your thoughts, join in conversations…
…and don’t forget to have fun.
P.S. You can always follow me: @ruthlesstweets