Writer's Next Step

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Twitter Tips for New Tweeps

I’ve had a lot of friends, family, and new writers still a little baffled by Twitter.

I’ll readily admit that in the summer of 2011, I was thoroughly baffled by it as well.

I was just starting out as a writer, and I arrived at the inaugural Quitter Conference with seven followers.  I barely knew my “handle” (and it was my name. sort of.) and I really had zero idea how to leverage it to make connections.

Since then, I have connected with some truly amazing people via Twitter that I have met “in real life” and call real friends.  I’ve found freelance jobs, and I developed the relationships that led to my job with Adventures in Missions.

Twitter changed my life.

Well, ok that might be a bit melodramatic….but it is a tool that, when used properly, can really help you find and facilitate relationships with people who have similar interests and worldviews and dreams as you.  It is not to be wasted!!

I just don’t get it…

The thing to know is that Twitter is way different from Facebook.  Facebook is a mutual relationship thing…like a birthday party or a dinner party.  It’s a great way to connect with people that you know.  It’s bi-directional (that means two-way. although that seems to be changing a little, too….but that’s a different rant.  I’m hating FB more and more every day)

Twitter is more like a cocktail party/networking event.  It’s a much bigger room, with a bunch of people in it that you may or may not know, but with whom you have found something in common.  There might be people you know well, and then there might be people who don’t know you from Adam…

The deal with Twitter is that you follow people that seem to have something interesting to say, kind of like you’d overhear something they were talking about at a party and draw closer to listen.  They don’t have to know who you are are what you do or find you the least bit interesting….but often/usually, if you find them interesting, they’ll probably find something interesting about you too.  And then you might join in the conversation too.

So who is at this party?

I’ve found that there are a few different categories of people on twitter:

There are the Big Dogs…the people with big followings who have earned the right to just kind of spew.  They are big enough that they don’t really have to engage with people too much, and they can’t engage with everyone.  They’d go insane.

Those are the people you follow because what they tweet is valuable to you. Tweets you read and go “yeah…that helped me today.”

I started out following a few key leadership people and every time I’d read a few tweets, I would just feel better.  Encouraged.  Feed your soul-type-stuff.

Then there are the rest of the people — the 2-20,000 follower people.  At that level, people usually engage with followers at some level. Following back is common etiquette (although I still check people out before I follow back…there are some spammy/salesy type people that only follow you to get your followback).  I try to follow anyone who seems to tweet a decent variety of content – their own and others’ – and who engages with people.

How do I find these people??

Another couple things you can do to find people that might be interesting: you can view the followers of anyone on Twitter, and you can also view who they follow.  Go to anyone’s Twitter profile and you can click “Followers” or “Following.” You can skim through those lists to fine more people that seem interesting.

You can also search for particular key words or hashtags (hashtags are a whole different conversation, but are used to simplify searching/following for a particular topic.  Like #11n11 for anything associated with the World Race, or #writestuff, which is a weekly chat amongst some writers.)

After you search a word or hashtag, scan the results. If you see anyone tweeting something interesting, click their name, look at their profile and follow them if you like their content.

On Fridays, a lot of people tweet out suggestions of who to follow with the #ff (Follow Friday) hashtag.  Sometimes it’s just names, but sometimes they also include a little something about what the person’s about or why to follow them. That’s always nice, and I’ve ended meeting a lot of people that way.

Another thing you can do is follow people from their blogs/websites.  Most people have social media buttons somewhere at the top or on the sidebar on their blogs. If you like someone’s blog, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy their Twitter content, too.

Some great leaders to start with: @MichaelHyatt @JonAcuff @JeffGoins @AndyTraub @marleeward

A great Twitter-teacher @BeckyRbnsn

A great Twitter model @KatieAxelson

A hysterical and under-appreciated cynic: @200lb_man


I found a lot of people and now I’m overwhelmed…

Once you are following more than 50 people or so, it can get overwhelming, so there are some tools (lists!!!) that you can use to organize your feed so you see what’s important.  I have a list called “Notice This” of the people that I really don’t want to miss. I have one called “Entertainment” that has well, entertainment stuff.

One of my quirks: I like to follow the writers of TV shows I enjoy. They’re much more interesting than the stars.

The most important thing I’ve learned on that side is to let go of the idea of needing to see everything or “stay caught up.”  Twitter is more like today’s paper.  You skim it to see what’s going on today, but you don’t go back to the past and read every article from every day.

I might miss something…

Yup. You will. Get over it.

Oh….and Twitter time is really different from real time.  Two hours ago is like years ago in Twitter-time, and a day is like ancient Greece.

Now what?

So here are some links, which also contain other great links to click for more info….but the best thing you can do is just set up an account and start exploring.  Follow a few people that you admire, a few that just make you smile, and a few that you think you can watch and learn from. Then watch and try things out and learn for a little bit.

So….since I am far from the expert, here are some resources from people who ARE:

There are a lot of other people who are smarter than me and more experienced than me, so here are some links, starting with a couple of “why” perspectives…how it’s different from FB and the benefits of it



Here’s a good “how to get started,” although I haven’t worried about setting up to text to my phone, but I did setup email alerts for new followers, mentions (when my “handle” is used in a tweet) and retweets (when someone sends one of my tweets to their followers).


And here are some good ones about general do’s and don’ts:



And finally, Twitter is not immune to phishing and viruses.  Here’s a great post from Jon Acuff about what NOT to click:


5 Replies

  1. Thanks for this! Most of your info was a big relief! 🙂 I’m back on twitter, to try it again thanks to this post.

    1. Christine

      Woohoo! I found you – @ErikaSimoneT 🙂

  2. Thanks, Christine. I appreciate your real view of Twitter. I recently became a…Tweep?…and admit that it seems so simple, it’s scary. And yes, one can get overwhelmed in a New York Minute with all the chatter and interesting people to follow. I feel encouraged to keep at it. you can find me @gvhomestead

    1. Christine

      Welcome to the Twitterverse, Sally! Keep at it, one tweet at a time! 🙂

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