New Tricks: 5 steps to getting started on Twitter

November 6th, 2008

Your first reaction to Twitter will probably be to ask, “What the heck is this?” I always like to describe Twitter as a combination of a blog and an instant messenger. Twitter gives you the opportunity to build a community and interact with them like never before.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? But have no fear. Here are some easy things you can do to get started:

1. Once again, fill out your profile. Put a picture in there. Enter your hometown. Enter a link to your personal homepage. If anything, you can make this a bit more personal than your Facebook profile.

2. Do some searches on for key words: your hometown, your publication, a big issue in your town — whatever. See who’s talking about them.

3. Post a Tweet or two. Say you’re new to Twitter and are looking for some cool people to follow. To post links, use a URL-shortening service like,, etc. Your Tweets must be fewer than 140 characters in length, so URL-shorteners are your friend.

Also, As Martha Stewart would say, self-editing is a good thing. Twitter’s not the place to be long winded.

4. Remember those people you saw in your Twitter searches? Find a couple to “follow.” Just click the little “follow” box under the person’s profile.

5. If someone who is obviously NOT a spammer follows you, send them a private message thanking them for the follow. This builds Twitter goodwill. (NOTE: Send someone a private message by going to their profile and clicking “message.” Send a public message to someone by typing in your Tweet, “@NAME Your message.”)

Bonus points: Be sure to follow @ColonelTribune and @Statesman for some Twitter best practices.

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Entry Filed under: New Tricks,Twitter


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