BY VERITY CHAMBERS
Love it or hate it, Twitter is an important part of the media industry.
As a media maker, you’re going to have to know how Twitter works and the best ways to use it. You don’t have to be a show-off, or argue with people. On the contrary, if you curate your account well, it can be a wonderful community of people with whom to communicate.
The best way to understand Twitter, and to learn to navigate it well, and to build that supportive Twitter community, is to use the app. Seems obvious, but if you spend time with it, and with the people you connect with, it will become a really valuable tool.
- If you don’t already have an account, sign up here. TIPS: Think carefully about your Twitter name – if you’re not using your own name (which is ok) does the name you’re choosing align with other online accounts (e.g. your WordPress)? I recommend having a public account, but let’s talk about it if you prefer to remain private
- Download the app for your phone: there are official Twitter apps for Android or iOS. There are also third-party apps that are worth trying – search for them in your relevant app store.
- Write a short bio, and upload an avatar/profile photo: This does not have to be a photo of you, but of course it can be, too TIP: Your bio is often the first thing a potential follower sees about you – a tiny bit of humour or personality signal you might be cool to follow and be connected with.
- Find or design a header photo that fits your personality. Note that this photo or illo is very wide and shallow – the size Twitter recommends is 1500px X 500px. There’s more info about designing your header taking into account the layout and “safe zone” here. Canva also has templates that fit social platform headers, banners, and posts – yay! TIP: Check the appearance of your profile on mobile, too!
- Go into Settings and set notifications to suit you: You will detest Twitter (and us!) if you receive emails every time someone even thinks about tweeting.
- Start finding people and organisations to follow. These might include media practitioners, official accounts for news organisations and radio stations, prominent people, politicians, people that have expertise or specialty in areas that fascinate you (science, art, film, etc.), and people that make you laugh.
- Make a note of the language used on Twitter – There is a character limit, but very few people use SMS-type abbreviations – quality tweets use correct grammar and spelling. If something needs to be said that can’t be contained in one tweet, a user will frequently start a ‘thread’.
- Things to explore: hashtags, mentions, lists, trending topics, muting.
TIPS FOR USING SOCIALS
- Show an interest in the things other people tweet (or post, depending on the platform) and engage with them in genuine conversation
- Be the best version of yourself – imagine that instead of tweeting, you’re relating your tweet out loud in a room in front of your family, best friend, teacher, a cop, a judge, and a future employer
- Know verified fact from rumour, conspiracy theories, or #fakenews
- Ask questions, make observations
- Tweet things you have created – writing, photos, videos – original content is engaging for your followers
- Read links in full before retweeting
- Think of when your audience is online – tweet and interact with them
- Humour is good
SOME HELPFUL LINKS:
A useful guide to making lists – useful for when you’re following a larger number of people, or as a way to filter out some of the noise
Find a story, or a topic of some description, and compose a series of tweets into a thread.