How to Make Twitter Work for You

Twitter annoyed me at first. I didn’t get it.
So brainless, so thoughtless. Who cares what you are eating, wearing or listening to? But wait, that was just the people I was following.

One tweet

One tweet

At first, I followed everyone who followed me. That seemed polite. It also seemed like third-grade behavior after about three days.  People follow you for a variety of reasons not having anything to do with intelligence, humor or excellent sources. It took a few peculiar people (women with numbers after their names) following me to figure that out. They had a huge number of followers, followed as many, but had no updates (posts to the general public at Twitter.) I found the website of one of these woman, and I hope that no one investigates my computer in the near future, because it will be hard to explain why I was looking at such a variety of ummmm, exotic images involving preternaturally blond women and animals.

Many twitter

Many twitter

Back to Twitter. Here’s how I found people to follow: Three times a day, I’d go to Twitter and read what various people said. Anyone who wasn’t helping got removed. “Wasn’t helping” included people who posted 40 tweets, each 15 seconds apart; used incomprehensible sentence fragments; hyped their own ability as experts in Web marketing; posted links to their own Websites that required registration or giving up private information. Those were obvious as were people whose purpose on Twitter is to get 10,000 followers. It simply wasn’t what I was interested in.

Before I removed them, I’d click on some of the people they were following. (Each person has a visible list of people they are following.)  Often, I’d find interesting people to follow. I concentrated on people who do what I do–write, coach, speak professionally, create art, read books.

In other words, I started with what I knew, and branched out from there. I add people as I find them through others Re-Tweets, I drop others who aren’t helpful or interesting.

I started out following 50 people, and slowly built it to about 200 people or organizations who were thoughtful and posted good links and information, explore areas I know a little (or a lot) about. They are not carbon copies of me, but they are in my field. Another name for this is networking. Not a bad idea, overall. I’m not interested in numbers, I’m interested in quality. Just like before Web 2.0.

And it works. Is everyone a genius? Certainly not. But you get ideas that work for you, and that’s the point.

And here’s a good article about using Linked In if you are a freelancer. One of the people I follow on Twitter wrote it.

Other articles on finding the right people to follow on Twitter:

WebWorkerDaily includes Twello, a yellow pages for Twitter fans.

CreativeWisdom also talks about Twello, but has some other great ideas.

TechLifeWeb uses a method like mine, but it’s funnier.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, life coach and teaches writing and communicating clearly. She also teaches people who can’t draw how to keep an art journal through raw art journals.

11 thoughts on “How to Make Twitter Work for You

  1. This is such a great article! I don’t really get the people who want to follow 10,000 people or want 1 million following them. It’s a strange phenomenon. You offer some realistic ways to work with Twitter.

    • Twitter is a tool. If you want to play, you can do that, but the idea of managing 10,000 people is overwhelming to me. But then again, I like to read people’s posts, so I stick to a smaller group. –Q

  2. I also used to follow anyone who followed my Twitter account, but now I’ll check out what they are tweeting about before I follow in kind. The result: I’m not following a bunch of people (and have even fewer followers) but the info I get from my Twitter feed is useful and/or entertaining to me: a combo of news updates, tweets from authors I like, and interesting info from other people and organizations. It’s kind of fun, and I’ve even used it pretty effectively with a freelance client to tweet about their magazine with their fans. It has its uses, even if it’s just to communicate privately with a small group of friends.

  3. I’ve read your post and the other articles you’ve recommended. I am fascinated by the concept of Twitter, but it seems so complicated. All that “Twitter-eese”–Tweets and Twello and Twubble…it’s a whole new language!

  4. Hi Quinn,
    I loved your article on Twitter. I signed up yesterday, looked around a bit, then ran! Shortly afterward, I recieved an email from someone who was “following me”, which was something very explicit about Britney Spears. My husband got angry and told me to stay away from that blankity-blank stuff! I appreciate your knowledge about it, makes me want to keep with it. Keep up the good blog!
    Gina Ray

    • It’s not any different than getting junk mail–you wouldn’t chase off the mail delivery person, either. Everything good has some weird, rotten spot. But Twitter CAN be confusing when you first start out. I’ve written two other articles about Twitter on my blog, I hope you find those helpful, too.

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