3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

05 Jul
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When most people join Twitter, they don’t know whether they’ll stick with it or not. For this reason, they often start following a few people before they’ve really set up their profile, and this can actually end up being detrimental to their twitter experience.

The reason is, when you start following someone, in most cases they get an email saying ‘X is now following you’ – this email includes your bio, your pic, and a link to your profile. If you don’t have a bio, your only tweet is something along the lines of ‘Don’t really understand this twitter lark!’, and your picture is the default twitter egg, chances are they won’t follow you back. And seeing as you’ve gone out of your way to identify key people to follow first of all, this is potentially a huge missed opportunity to engage with people who you’d get a lot out of chatting to.

So to avoid this, and generally get off on the RIGHT foot on Twitter, here are 3 very simple things to do right away, as soon as you join, and before you do anything else:

  1. Put in a picture, preferably a head-shot. If you’re really camera shy then put in a picture of a robot or whatever, but put in SOMETHING – lots of people refuse to follow anyone with the twitter egg, right off the bat. Twitter is a personal medium – even if you’re only using it for professional networking, you really need a picture of yourself up there.
  2. Put in a proper, engaging bio. Remember, people get emailed when you follow them. Oh, who is this new follower and shall I follow them back? I don’t know who they are because they’ve not put in a bio – so I won’t bother. Twitter is about connecting with people – use the bio to say something about yourself, which will make the kinds of people who you want to connect with, want to connect with you. Try and avoid ‘reluctant twitterer’ or similar as the last sentence.
  3. Write a couple of tweets. I know it seems silly to broadcast tweets to no one, but you need to give people something to go on when they’re deciding whether to follow you back. Everyone’s first tweet is roughly ‘Am trying twitter out – hello world!’ or something along those lines, and that’s fine, no one expects your first tweet to be a work of 140 character genius. But follow that up with something more meaningful, perhaps about what you want to get out of Twitter, the types of professionals you want to tweet with, or maybe a link to a really useful article or piece of information.

Just do those 3 simple steps and you’ll hit the ground running, and have more chance of developing relationships with people who matter to you.

- thewikiman

More on stuff on Twitter from this blog:

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  • Ned Potter July 5, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Relevant for those doing #cpd23: 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

  • Helen Murphy July 5, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Brill as ever. RT @theREALwikiman: Relevant for [...]#cpd23: 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter

  • Laura Payne (@ellekaypea) July 5, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Wise words for newbies: RT @theREALwikiman: #cpd23: 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

  • thewikiman July 5, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    I’d also add – use the ‘Web’ field in your profile to link to another web presence if you have one. It’s a big missed opportunity not to link to your blog or whatever; gives people a chance to find out more about you.

  • Katie Birkwood July 5, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Seconding all of this, but especially the extra point about a web link. When someone follows you it’s great to be able to work out if they’re someone you already know from somewhere else. A link to a blog or similar can help make that connection and ensure you get followed back!

  • thewikiman July 5, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Yep, and I also should have said – choose a meaningful name! If you’ve only got 5 followers it’s not too late to change… Anything with many numbers or a series of letters which don’t actually make a name etc, is probably bad, because ultimately you will meet people off twitter in real life.

    Also – I dunno how you feel about this with yours Katie? – but if I had my time again I’d probably use my actual name rather than taking the blog name and adapting it.

  • Mariette van Selm (@mvanselm) July 5, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Useful advice from @therealwikiman: 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

  • Nicole Fonsh July 5, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

  • thewikiman July 5, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    I’ve thought of something else, too – remember that twitter status updates are not the same as Facebook ones. I don’t use Facebook but it appears most status updates there are done in the 3rd person, whereas Tweets are generally first-person.

    So for whatever reason tweeting stuff like “[@yourtwittername] is doing such and such” is something which can make some people a bit sniffy…

    I don’t really know why. Writing it down makes it sounds worse than it is You can do whatever you want, of course – just to warn you what people like and don’t like. :)

  • Ned Potter July 5, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Now working again! And with added comments! 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

  • James Mullan July 5, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    Now working again! And with added comments! 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

  • Katie Birkwood July 5, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    I’m not sure about the name thing, Ned. Yes, it’s definitely good to have something pronounceable. It’s as well to keep it as short as poss, too, so that there’s not too much of the tweet taken up with names (I’d say therealwikiman is a bit on the long side). I’m not sure about whether I’d choose to use my name, though, but maybe from perosnal reasons – there are a million Katies everywhere, and I’m not a massive fan of being called by my surname, so it’d be difficult to find something suitable.

  • Angela July 5, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Hi, have ventured into the world of twitter and found your post really useful so will now just have to see where it all takes me.

  • Ian July 5, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Agree about username. I was chuffed when I got mine as it was my first choice. Even happier when I ‘got’ Twitter and found a short username had its benefits! Plus it is easy to identify me…although this isn’t always a good thing :)

  • thewikiman July 6, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    Hey Katie, thanks for the reply – different things work for different people, definitely. I guess KatieBirkwood would’ve been quite long as a username too – theREALwikiman is definitely too long, but of course I had no idea what I was doing when I signed up. :) Mind you, the account of @NedPotter is so awesome I’m almost glad it was already taken – check that guy out.

  • thewikiman July 6, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    Angela, welcome to the world of twitter! Really glad this post was useful. Make sure you stick with twitter for at least a few months as it takes time to build up a network and really start to get all the benefits, but it really is worth it… :)

  • thewikiman July 6, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    Ha, easy to blame, Ian! I like the idea of @thoughtsofawannabelibrarian as a username, dunno what your problem is.. ;-)

  • Ned Potter July 6, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    And for any #cpd23-ers that missed this yesterday – 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

  • meimaimaggio July 6, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    Fantastic advice here!

    I’d like to add that your name and username are two separate things on Twitter. For example, thewikiman’s username is theREALwikiman but his name on Twitter is also displayed as Ned Potter. You can’t change your username without a lot of hassle but you can change your name as much as you like! So I wouldn’t worry too much about the username being incomprehensible as long as you make your name something sensible, like maybe your real name.

    I had some problems with people not knowing how to pronounce my Twitter username, meimaimaggio, so I changed my name to display as mei•mai•maggio recently.

  • thewikiman July 7, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Yep, another excellent point. People whose real names display as just their made-up twitter handle but split into two (so @librarianX becomes ‘librarian x’ in the name field) are also a turn off in terms of following. Completely fine if you want to protect your identity of course, but if you’re being open then stick your actual name in there for sure.

  • [...] Potter has written some great guidelines about what to do when you first join Twitter that fit with a lot of my own criteria above, so if [...]

  • Cory949 July 10, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    I guess I don’t get it. I don’t have kids, don’t use coupons, I don’t take pictures… I spent considerable time over the years to try and get off various mailing lists, entered my name on the national “do not call” site all to get a little simplicity in my life. I disconnected my home phone after realizing I never used it, I was always on my cel. After seeing the Tweets on some acquaintances phones I ask why would anyone join a service only to be updated constantly with information such as “the line is long at Starbucks!’ Er, first, which Starbucks, and secondly, what else is new? I really don’t understand the service.

  • thewikiman July 10, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Hi Cory, did you see the ’7 reasons people don’t use twitter’ presentation, linked above? The starbucks thing is pretty much covered in that:

    That said, Twitter works best (in my opinion) as a professional tool. If there isn’t a community from whatever profession you work in already there, it’ll have limited value.

  • thewikiman July 10, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    (And if people have the locational stuff on Twitter turned on, you can see which Starbucks! :-) )

  • [...] I’ve set up a new account, with this mask on; I will definitely follow other participants and try to contribute. But my stumbling block is the idea of Twitter as a way into anything thoughtful or substantial, [...]

  • [...] the Wikiman3 Essential Things to do as soon as you join Twitter [...]

  • thewikiman July 21, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Here’s a link to an article called ‘are they worth the follow?’ which ties in with what I said above, and let’s you hear another voice saything this stuff does actually matter…

  • [...] I first joined Twitter I avoided having a photograph of myself but after reading Ned Potter’s excellent advice for new Twitter users I reconsidered and added one. At npc2011 I attended Suzanne Wheatley’s useful session about [...]

  • Charlie Spencer September 17, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    It seems these points are aimed at getting people to follow you. In addition to everything else I’ve found confusing about Twitter, I don’t know if / why I should be interested in people following me. My limited experience with it and blogs have shown me I don’t have anything to say.

    So it’s a conversation? It’s a conversation I can’t figure out how to follow. It’s like a conversation that all I can hear was the last thing said. I can’t figure out what the post was in response to or how to put the post in context. It’s also like multiple conversations at the same time, but I’m only getting one side. I keep hearing there’s plenty of information on Twitter, but I can’t figure out what’s going on. Maybe I’m limited by my weak social skills. I don’t socialize much personally, have no professional networking ability, and don’t participate in other ‘social networking’ web sites. I’ve opened accounts three different times, then closed each in frustration after a few months.

  • thewikiman September 19, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Hi Charlie,

    It’s aimed at getting the right people to follow you, yes. It just means your network is bigger – for me, the most important thing about having followers is that when I ask a question, more people hear that question and so more people can help.

    If you’re not currently comfortable about having much to say, you can just use twitter to listen, in which case you don’t need any followers at all.

    You can click the little arrow icon on the top right of each tweet to find out what the post was in response to – that’ll show you a history of that particular conversation, which should help you contextualise it. You shouldn’t ever be in a position where you only get one side, however – you only see conversations between people you follow. So if you followed me but not the person I was talking to, that particular conversation wouldn’t appear in your timeline on twitter.

    People closing their twitter accounts after a few months is quite common, so don’t worry about that… Some people come back to it, others don’t. They key to making it work is finding people to follow who tweet about a particular area you’re interested in – you can do that just by searching for a keyword, and seeing what’s being said.

  • Charlie Spencer September 19, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    It’s not that I’m not comfortable about posting. My previous experiences with both Twitter and blogging have proven I just don’t have anything I consider worth saying. I also found it often took me longer to properly phrase a post than it took me to accomplish whatever I was posting about.

    So I’ve launched yet another account. I see the arrow you’re talking about. Maybe it was added since the last time I tried Twitter; maybe it was there and I didn’t see it or understand its use. It does make conversations a bit clearer.

    I can find people who post about subjects I’m interested in, but too often they post more about other subjects than the one we have in common. I guess I use the Internet more for specific information than socialization. If I want to know about chemistry or concert piano or stock car rain delays, that’s all I want from that person. I wish people would keep personal posts separate from professional / subject matter-specific posts. Just me, I guess; probably part of my poor networking and socialization skills.


  • Belinda January 16, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Ditto to everything you wrote in this post. No one wants to accept a twitter user who wish to follow you with a default twitter egg as picture vise versa.I’d tweet about this post to give future followers a heads up.

  • Ned Potter January 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Someone suggested I retweet this, several months on, so… 3 essential things to do AS SOON AS YOU JOIN twitter…

  • thewikiman January 17, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Hi Belinda, thanks for that – and I did tweet about it at the time, but I’ll do so again…

  • Sarah Wolfenden January 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    I agree with the comments raised- I changed my name from Stroumphette to my name, although it probably, on reflection, is still too long. I’ve found it invaluable for keeping up to date with new articles, blog posts etc and for connecting with people. I found out about Library Camp through Twitter; I’d never heard of it before and also had the opportunity to lead my own session – I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Twitter.

  • Ned Potter May 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    @samanthahalf @Annie_Bob I AGREE! (

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