Twitter is the second largest social media network with over 500 Million active users. Over the years, it has adopted a concept much different from Facebook and other social media, and has become a news and research powerhouse. The fact that it allows messages, or ‘Tweets’, limited to 140 characters means it doesn’t have a lot of the noise other social networks have, what with the useless images, videos, and spam/scam lurking around (yes, I accuse Facebook!). According to statistics from Wikipedia, Twitter handles over 1.6 Billion search queries per day! This goes on to say that while companies largely use Facebook and other social media for promotional and marketing purposes, they use Twitter for sending out news and updates. Even celebrities use Twitter to keep their fans informed. Hence, Twitter can be used as a good source of information, and a good place to research. Here are some best tips to use Twitter for researching.
1. Establish yourself
The first sensible thing to do on Twitter would be to establish an authority for yourself. Get a recognizable Twitter handle so others can find you. You can either use your name, your blog/brand name, your website, or your nickname. People usually use their full name, or a combination of their name and blog name. Some also just use their blog name. It’s totally upto you. The idea is to simple make it easy for people to find you.
Like any other social media, you need to fill out all your profile information. use a professional looking display image, and fill in all the bio. Link up your blog too, as well as other social media profiles you’re active on, like Facebook.
2. Create lists
You can easily keep your Twitter organized by creating lists. You can group the people you follow into various lists, which will easily let you filter through information. This will come in handy when you are following many people, and need to look for specific tweets. Also helpful if you use mobile devices a lot.
3. Follow others
Twitter is more or less a give-and-take business for people who aren’t celebrities or otherwise very popular. The basic idea being that you follow people, and they follow you in return. That way, both parties are the beneficiaries. But it is more than just about getting an extra follower. It extends your reach to a much wider audience.
4. Learn the use of hashtags
Hashtags are the sole concept around which Twitter revolves. They are so important that you will find loads of reference to them. Hashtags are basically keywords or tags that are preceded by a pound (#) sign. These acts as tags throughout Twitter. For example, if someone is talking about #bloggingTips, their tweet will be accessible to everyone who searches for bloggingTips. It builds up a sort of a conversation, where related tweets can be linked by a common hashtag. You should use at least one to two hashtags in your tweets. And more in an overkill really.
5. Character limit
By default, Twitter allows you a character limit of 140. But always think of it as lesser than that. When you tweet something, chances are that someone wants to re-tweet it. Re-tweeting takes up extra characters. So to make things easy for others, always leave some room in your tweets.
6. Start a conversation
Use hashtags to start a conversation! Re-tweet other people’s tweets, and reply to them. Get others prompted to reply to you in return. Other people talking about you will certainly get their followers want to know about you. Also, discussing something with others will get you involved in a lot more stuff, and hence you will get to know more about latest happenings, news, events etc.
7. Follow the trends
Twitter has a cool feature known as Trends. It shows the most popular and trending hashtags at the moment. CLicking on these hashtags will bring up the latest posts containing that hashtag. You can use this feature to see what’s popular, and then tweet about it.
8. Follow Fridays!
It’s a trend on Twitter that on every Friday, people use the #FollowFriday hashtag to recommend users to other people. They are essentially recommending those usernames to other people, so they may follow them as well. Take part in it, and get followed yourself!
9. Ask for help
Ask for help regarding any topic from the world! Use hashtags to reach out to people you don’t even know! A lot of people will respond if you use a popular hashtag.
10. Use Twitter Search
Twitter search is a great way to search for news. Daily, more than 1.6 billion search queries are made on it. People are looking for latest news on big companies such as Microsoft, Apple etc, and for tips and tricks. Search for any topic by using Twitter search, and end up with loads of results! You can search for keywords, as well as hashtags.
11. Share Conference updates
If you’re in a live conference or a seminar, then why not tell the world about it? Share information about it using hashtags, and let people know! This will in turn bring responses to your tweets, and hence more followers for you!
12. Whom to follow?
Follow you own educational institution, professional organizations in your industry, academic journals, magazines, authors, academics/students, libraries, mentors, career resources, and so on, to get a better idea about the happenings around you.
13. Use Twitter Local
Meet up with other tweeters from your interest group! Just put in your, location and a theme, and find such people in your area!
14. Reach out to people in other fields
People often add other people who are interested in the same things as they are. While this is a great way to create focused groups and discuss related topics, it’s always nice to meet people from other professions / interests, and get to know more about their fields to broaden your own perspective.
15. Share your publications
Share your works, publications and research on Twitter! Ask people questions and get great responces and feedbacks on how you can improve it further.
16. Tweet regularly
Tweet regularly to keep your followers engaged. At least once a day should be sufficient. Mention people (usernames) in your tweets, and interact with other people. Don’t be too over-promotional or spammy though. People don’t like spammers, which is why they use Twitter in the first place instead of Facebook.
17. Play BackChatter!
A Twitter game that’ll make the back-channel aspect of a conference or a seminar a lot more fun!
18. Spend more time on Twitter
If Twitter is one of those sites you visit for a few minutes to check out something, then you need to rethink your strategy. Start spending more and more time on Twitter. The more you stay on Twitter, the more news you see, and the more you interact with others.
19. Manage your Twitter
Twitter is about maintaining contacts and staying in touch. Keeping your account updated on a regular basis can be tiresome, especially if you have so little time at hand. For such cases, you can make use of third party apps that manage your social media profiles for you, such as HootSuite. With it, you can schedule tweets, auto-update to/from Facebook and your blog etc.
20. Grade your Twitter!
Twitter Grade is a nice little Twitter utility that lets you know how well you’re doing on Twitter. You can see your global rank on Twitter, and get a score out of 100 to see how much you’ve improved, and how much more you need to improve.
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