Social Media
How To Get Started On Twitter

How To Get Started On Twitter

March 29, 2011
4 min read

twitter questions b2b marketing

With Twitter’s Fifth Birthday now behind us, there are still plenty of B2B Marketers considering whether Twitter is a place to engage with customers, prospects, partners and future employers.

People are always asking me “why tweet, who to follow and how to get started on Twitter?” A few weeks ago I wrote my Top 10 Twitter Tips blog post and based on the volume of traffic that post continues to receive, I thought it was time to tackle the more basic questions:

  • Why Tweet?
  • How to Tweet?
  • Who to follow on Twitter?
  • How to get started?
  • How does your company feel about your social activity?

Aaron Lee (@askaaronlee) did a great job covering some of the top questions from more experienced Twitter users and more with his Most Frequently Asked Questions On Twitter post. But there are still plenty of people who haven’t taken the leap yet into this popular social channel. So here I’m going back to the basics to help those still finding their way into the Twitterverse.

The first question most people ask is Why Do You Tweet?

The main reason is that it has allowed me to connect with some of the smartest people on the planet who are all dealing with many of the same issues I am. Not only that. But these are people who are happy to share their experiences, their wisdom and some small bit of their precious time, 140 characters at a shot.

We live in a social world. I feel compelled to participate! Because I believe that, especially as a marketer, I need to be part of the conversations taking place. This helps to bring an outside-in, customer view to business challenges instead of thinking too much from a company perspective.

Whatever your role, the first step to a positive Twitter experience is setting your own personal goal.

How does your company feel about you spending time on social activities?

I believe we owe it to our companies to be brand ambassadors and that we also owe it to ourselves as marketers and business professionals to have a voice in the market. The objective of personal branding is to showcase your unique skills, experience and perspective on the world. The ultimate goal is to achieve professional success.

But when I succeed in being a positive voice in the market, that has a positive effect on my company’s brand. I suggest people seek out their company’s policy on social media and make sure they are adhering to it. It’s important to represent your views as personal opinions and not the endorsed views of your company.

And of course never share confidential information or talk badly about a manager, a co-worker, a customer or a client.

How do I get started?

Just dive in! Create a descriptive Twitter profile. Add your profile picture. Never protect your tweets. Next, it is important to spend some time identifying people and lists to follow. Follow the most active people in your company, your industry, your competitors, your customers. Add the major news outlets and industry trade journals. Find the most influential bloggers. Once you’ve added these folks simply watch how they behave.

After a few weeks you might be ready to start sharing some of the content you see. And a little further from there you can start to add your comments. Too often I see new people sign up for Twitter and immediately start promoting their company’s products or events. I advise against this approach since your message is clearly one-way and promotional and also because no one is following you except maybe a few colleagues.

Who do I follow-back?

Generally, I think you want to follow-back anyone who gives you the honor of following you AND who appears to be a real person. There are many fake accounts out there with stock photo profile pictures and alluring profiles.

The first step is to look at their profile and picture to see if they seem real and relevant to you. Next, look at their last 10 Tweets and see if they are sending out affiliate links to SPAM sites or if they are truly sharing and interacting around topics relevant to you. Finally, I look at following and follower counts to see if this person is just trying to gain as many followers as possible. If they follow way more people than follow them, I may take a closer look. Or if their follower count is high but their tweet count is low I will question what approaches they have taken to gain so many followers with so few tweets.

In the end it’s a judgment call that ultimately centers around them being someone you want to connect with.

Struggling with Finding The Time To Tweet or Blog?

It all starts with the frame of mind that you have to build it in to your routine. I suggest busy people create lists to include typical sources of news and inspiration. Then scanning that list throughout the day looking for articles and ideas worth sharing. It is important to actually read the items you plan on sharing.

One great tip is to share the article or tweet with a spoiler note explaining the main point of the article. Finally, I understand all the initial fears most people who do not write for a living have with posting a blog article.

But the act of writing can really be therapeutic. It allows you to vent and often forces you to see your challenges in a new light. It demands taking a constructive view and can ultimately drive new insights.

Let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook


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11 thoughts on “How To Get Started On Twitter

  1. Michael Brenner

    Thanks Naomi. Some good tips over there!

  2. Nancy Davis

    I would advise anyone starting on Twitter to first observe and listen. We all want to just jump in, and at times, that could be inappropriate. We need to make others aware of our presence, but we also need to listen and see how relationships develop on Twitter.

    I was on Twitter for about a month before I was comfortable enough to being Tweeting frequently. For others, this process may be even longer.

  3. Michael Brenner

    Great point Nancy. The old “two ears and one mouth” adage certainly applies to Twitter. I too spent a couple of weeks just listening and closely following other user’s behavior before I jumped in. Thanks for the good advice and adding to the article.

  4. Petra Pirron

    Great Reading, Michael. Working with people in different age and background helped me to understand that we need to guide people. Learners, Seller, Marketiers, curisous natures… all need to understand what is in for them and they need to be aware that it’sup to them to actually get and find what they want.
    I find it is time for freqent socializers to take on ownership and to help people finding their ways to use the full potential! Thanks for helping!

  5. Michael Brenner

    Petra, thanks so much for your comments and support. Having seen you present in person, I know you have tremendous passion for training and to help develop people. That is exactly why I started this blog and hope to live up to your great example!

  6. MsCrimsonLips

    Hi Michael. I had this saved in my Social Media file to read later and I like it a lot. I have been thinking of teaching companies in Kelowna how to tweet. This gives me an excellent start.
    I enjoy putting all my social media gems of information in one file so that I can keep going back to it and deciding which piece would help clients.
    Thanks! your social media information has been so helpful.

  7. Michael Brenner

    Awww, thanks so much! It seems like so long ago that I wrote that but there are still a lot of folks who haven’t found the value in Twitter yet. I am really glad that you think this could help.

    And I am so happy we are connected and really value your input!

    Best, Michael

  8. Dan Leyes

    Michael, I’m new to business–just opened my new consulting firm–and new to Twitter. I found this and your “9 Top Twitter Tips” in Forbes really helpful. Hearing how you perceive and use Twitter really takes some of my fear and skepticism away. Thanks for sharing and changing my outlook.

  9. Michael Brenner

    Thanks Dan, happy to see that these tips were helpful! Best of luck!

  10. Edwige Bukhari

    I plan to add another string to my bow: tweeting and blogging for a company! I find your input very valuable. Thank you, Michael.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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