Twitter truly enriches my life which is why I created this beginner’s guide. I spend no more than 30 minutes a day on Twitter and consider it time very well spent. Why? Through Twitter, I find design work and speaking opportunities, I converse with world renowned digital marketing experts, I’m prompted to read fascinating articles, I experience global events in real time, and I market my business to people around the world. Here’s how to get started:

Open an Account
Go to Twitter.com and create an account. This is a great way to backlink your website (good SEO) so list your web site and some interesting information about yourself. You can even design your own Twitter page. Just choose one of the pre-designed templates and you’re ready to go. If your Twitter account represents your business, contact oz 2 designs for a professional look that carries your brand into your account. For those concerned about their inbox, email from Twitter is an option. To turn off email, from your home page go to Settings, Notices, and then unclick the email boxes. I choose to leave the email settings on because I like to be notified by email whenever I get a new follower.

Follow People
When you start a new Twitter account, Twitter recommends people to follow based upon your interests. Scroll through that list and follow a few…you won’t regret it. Next, register your account with Mr. Tweet and WeFollow. These sites help you find people to follow who share your interests.

Create Lists
Lists are a great way to categorize your interests and in turn, read about them exclusively. Without lists one is forced to filter through every tweet made by everyone – all at once. One way to create lists: After you choose to follow someone, click the list icon to the right and create a list or add that person to a list you already created.

Your list may be private or public. Before lists, Twitter gave me a headache because I felt like I was sifting through a chaotic stream of consciousness. Lists bring order and sanity to my Twitter experience and may do the same for you.

Direct Messages
Direct messages are a nice way to connect with someone, ask a question, or get advice. In my case, DM’s have helped me acquire speaking engagements as well as talk privately to a couple nationally known bloggers. On your home page, click “Direct Message” on the right panel and you will find yourself on the DM page. At the top of the page it reads “Send ______ ^ a direct message. Click the arrow button, choose a name, then write and send a private message to anyone on your list.

Twitter Culture – When in Rome…..
As with every society, Twitter has its own culture. Here are 5 basic Twitter guidelines to help you fit into the Twittersphere.

Connect: Talk to a few people every day. If you want to become an influential user, talk to many people every day. How do you do this? Click “reply” at the bottom right of any tweet. In your “What’s Happening” bar at the top of your home page you’ll see @Someone’sName. Type your message next to it and click “tweet.”
You may see a response to your reply right away on your home page or your follower may reply at a later time. To check all replies made to you while you were away, look to the right of your home page and you see @YourName. Click @YourName to view a list of all replies and retweets made to you.

Retweet: If you really like what someone says, click the “retweet” button at the bottom right of their Twitter post. This is a quick and easy way to share an interesting tweet with all of your followers plus it’s a compliment to the original creator of the tweet. Try it.

Hashtag: Hashtags add value to your Twitter experience. If you put the # symbol directly in front of any word, you can view who, throughout the entire Twittershpere, is using that very word in real time. Just click any hashtagged word and see for yourself. Take a look at a recent post of mine:

_______________________________________________________________________________________________ As you can see, I used four hashtags at the end of this post. Hashtags help me acquire new followers. These new followers are often people who have searched a hashtag and then read and liked my post.

Post every day. An active account is an attractive account.

Follow back. It is good manners to follow those who are following you. At the same time, be judicious. Briefly review your followers’ accounts. If they are tweeting about subjects which are of absolutely no interest or value to you then don’t follow back. On the other hand, if your followers have anything to offer you, anything at all, it is considered good manners to follow back.

Twitter is more than a tool or a platform. It’s a fascinating melting pot of research, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, poetry, political views, comedy, events, and more. Remember to follow me at @oz2designs and oz2 art director Rick Brady at @IHateCockatiels. Enjoy!