Some people find it hard to imagine what exactly Twitter is, how it can work and what exactly you should do there. Social networking is a very new, and to some a totally alien concept.  So let’s try to imagine what it would mean in the real world (twitter analogies are in brackets).

Twitter is the world’s biggest Party

There is a great big party or networking event which is being held in your honour and you can go to it at any time. The guest list is handpicked by you (people you have chosen to follow on Twitter) – it can include celebrities, industry experts, your friends and family, and also other people that you have met at similar social functions. They will all be there, anytime you choose to go to the party.

Twitter

Twitter party – by Shutterstock

Try to spend some time with this image – picture the event which you have been invited to and which you are going to walk through the door just as soon as you select Twitter on your device.

What do you do at parties?

Think of how you behave at parties and networking events, and/or any hints or tips you have picked up about how you should behave. Then let’s apply them to the twitter situation.

  • You can dive straight into the main room where everyone is mingling (read your main newsfeed and join in with a conversation that you find there).
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  • However there are also lots of private rooms at this party.  You have decided who is allowed to go in each of them, so you can pick who you mingle with.You can choose a room where some of your selected friends are having a private conversation (read the feed from one of your lists). You can choose exactly which of your friends (or gurus or celebrities) are in that room – invite or banish them as you see fit.
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  • You can also go into another room where people that you haven’t met yet are all talking about one particular topic. The topic under discussion is printed on the door so you can select the topic before you enter (follow a hashtag).  In that room you will only talk about that topic but you might meet some new friends.
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  • You can send a private message to one person who is your friend, (send a DM), or you can talk in public to a particular person, whether or not they are your friend (send a message starting with their @name – it will be visible to that person and all of your mutual friends).
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  • You can also just run into the open room and shout out your message to the whole world (just post a tweet to nobody in particular)

 

Think again about this party and the various rooms in it.  If this was a real party how would you act?  Would you just run into the centre of the room and say

“HI I’M DEBBIE! EVERYONE LISTEN TO ME AND PLEASE BUY MY STUFF!”

Do you think people would listen?  No, but that is how some people behave on Twitter.

 

Finding small rooms to have conversations with small groups and/or chatting to like minded people using hashtags are great ways to behave on Twitter – and their real life alternatives feel a bit better too

Of course when you first arrive at the party it will have been going for some time before you arrive.  Some people may have left you messages, secret or semi-public.  It might be polite to go and find these people and talk to them (reply to your DMs and @messages).

Some people might have been talking about you – repeating clever things that you have said, or telling people about your business or website. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to go and thank those people? That’s what you would do if it was a real party and people were bigging you up…

So Twitter is for chatting, for socialising, for networking.  Although you can use it to get people to come and visit your site, it is probably not a good place for selling out loud all the time, to people that don’t know you yet.  Get in there, talk to people, make friends and chat.  Then if you know that they have a problem and you can help with it then maybe you can offer them what you have…

Have you dressed appropriately?

One last thing to think about while we are looking at the party analogy – your Twitter profile.  That is what you are wearing at the party.  That is the face that people will see when they look at you and decide if they want to be your friend or not.  Your profile is what is printed on the silly name badge that the party organisers have insisted that you wear.

If you are tweeting on behalf of your company then maybe it is OK that people see your company logo and not your face – maybe you are at the party wearing your business suit and talking business to colleagues – the faceless representative of your corporation.  In that case make sure you talk and act appropriately.

But if you are not just being a company representative, please show us your face.  Make it pretty, smiley and happy, not morose, arty or silly.  And please if you are trying to build your network or any kind of business, please do not go around with a big egg on your head or dressed as a cartoon character.  This is not a fancy dress party or masked ball.

Look around at some of the other people you tweet with.  Look at their profiles and allow yourself to judge them.  Then imagine how people are judging you and change your profile to represent what you would like them to see.

 

At the end of the day there are all sorts of people on Twitter, just as in real life.  Some of them are self obsessed bores, some of them are just repeating themselves over and over again.  But some people are there meeting new friends and having a great time, any time of day or night.

Which type of Tweep are you?

 

If you liked this article, please leave your twitter handle in the comments and come and say hello to me on Twitter – I’m @motivatingmumuk.  I’m a bit shy and retiring and can be boring and monotonous sometimes, but I do love a good natter, so feel free to dig me out of my corner by the drinks table and engage me in conversation…