Understanding Twitter (For Personal Use)

Like many people, I originally signed up for a Twitter account back in 2009 when everyone started to say it was going to be the next big thing. Like many of these people I also used my account a few times, didn’t really “get it” and basically gave up on it. About a year ago I noticed that it was still sticking around and figured I must have missed something. For the longest time I really didn’t “get it” so I decided to spend a large amount of time understanding Twitter better to see where the value really lied in the service. I am very glad I did as it has become a huge part of my life, allowed me to meet many awesome people, attend really great events, and get lots of free stuff plus much more. If you are one of those people that don’t get it either, hopefully my experiences will help you “get Twitter” as well.

I Have Facebook, Why Do I Need Twitter

The first big question many people (including myself) have when looking at Twitter is why do I want to use a service that restricts you to 140 characters when you can use Facebook that allows much more? This was one of the things I struggled with the most about Twitter and to really answer this question I need to explain how I view both Twitter and Facebook differently. For me, Facebook is a much more private social network that allows you to keep in touch with people you know and people you don’t mind having access to things like personal pictures, life events and more. Twitter on the other hand is something I use more to connect with people that I don’t necessarily know but share similar interests with without giving them too much access to my personal information.

What is Twitter Good For?

When I started using Twitter I used it primarily to follow what was going on with one of my favourite sports teams, Toronto FC. I could follow soccer reporters that focussed on the team, other Toronto FC fans, players and even the team itself to keep up to date with what was going on at the club. Finding out who these people are is relatively easy because whenever there is a Toronto FC game on, these people are the most actively talking about the team using hashtags like #TFC & #TorontoFC. Since this probably has you thinking, what is a “hashtag”, it is essentially any word with a “#” symbol in front of it used to group together tweets about a particular subject making them easy to find. They are clickable so when you see one you can find all the other people talking about the same thing. You can also search them in the search box and then follow the people who you find to be informative about the subject that interests you. With Facebook it would be next to impossible to find all of these individuals and likely the only way to follow along would be by liking the team’s page or joining a Facebook group (which are often inactive anyway). When people are tweeting about a subject it is typically LIVE as the event is happening and the information is available at your fingertips instantaneously. Other than sports teams many people like to follow along for information about their favourite TV shows, movies, actors/actresses, people with similar interests, people in your area, news and industry specific information (ie. SEO, Social Media, PR, etc.).

What To Do Now That You Are Following People

Now that you have found the people you want to follow its time to strike up a conversation. Since you have similar interests if you have questions about something you can message anyone you want on Twitter to either say thanks for sharing their content, ask questions or anything else you want and a lot of the time people will answer (unless of course it is some celebrity with millions of followers). This is one of the best things about Twitter as you can easily connect with people anywhere in the world and unless they are blocking you or have a private profile (very few do) they will get your message by just typing with a “@” symbol before there username in a message to them.

How To Get Followers

Now that I’ve covered basics of following people and talking to them, it’s time to get some followers of your own. The best way to do this is to share information. Ideally you will get more followers if you are an expert about something in particular or have a blog that you link to your Twitter account. If you don’t want to go this route just share information about topics that interest you and other people with common interests might follow along to see what you have to say. For example, I love food so I follow many foodies and restaurants and post pictures from places I am eating to let other people know how they are. The higher the quality of the information that you share is, the more likely you will be to attract new followers. Once you build up a good following you will be able to do a lot more and even ask questions and get answers from your following.

Taking Your Twitter Relationships Offline

The next step, if you are comfortable of course, would be to take some of these online relationships that you have made offline. Many of the active users in the Twitter community meet up on a regular basis. Some events are organized by Twitter users themselves (typically called Tweetups which can be found on sites like Twtvite.com just search your city for events that interest you) while others are organized by businesses. Attending these events is a great way to get more followers and meet new people that have similar interests as you. Also occasionally companies or organizations organize events for their Twitter followers as well which you can attend. For example, I am heading to an event shortly for Toronto FC being held at a sports bar in Toronto where there are tons of free giveaways for their Twitter followers and everyone is getting together to watch one of their games. I have attended around 10 or so different events and have met many awesome people doing so.

Tweetup Example

Example of a Tweetup Search Result

I Want FREE Stuff

If you have done all of the above you should be pretty comfortable at using Twitter by this point, but there are many other great things to be found. Many companies do giveaways on Twitter and quite often they are pretty easy to win. Some of the things I have won include restaurant gift cards, tickets to a premier movie screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, a tequila prize pack worth around $250, VIP tickets to sporting events, free items at restaurants and much more. I even joined a softball team that I found through Twitter after trying to get more active and made some great friends in the process. I also use Twitter quite a lot to find out what is going on in my city and find many events that I would never have found if I just stuck to hanging around on Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have my Facebook account which I use to keep in contact with close friends and post pictures, and it is great for that, but Twitter is a much better tool to meet new people that share common interests, network with people in your industry and keep up to date on things and places that interest you. I will eventually try to write an article on using Twitter as a business (ie. as a gambling affiliate, or small business owner) but this will take much more investigation to put together.

If this article does encourage you to sign-up be sure to create a profile listing your interests and ensure you add an image of yourself. Otherwise people might think you are a spammer. Also check out this Newbies Guide to Twitter before getting started:.

Follow me on Twitter @beachrockinc, tell me that you read this article and I will be your first follower if you are new to Twitter. Also don’t be afraid to ask me any questions about my experiences on Twitter. Have fun!

3 thoughts on “Understanding Twitter (For Personal Use)”

  1. This just reminded me of that article/interview we were going to do! Did I ever send you over those final questions?

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