This post is published on behalf of Aaron Strout at Mzinga. It is also published at Mzinga blogs.
After sending an e-mail to a friend today on how to get started on Twitter, I thought it might not hurt to provide a few tips for anyone who's looking to get started (or has started but can't quite figure out what to do next.) I'm by no means an expert -- look to people like Chris Brogan or Jeremiah Owyang if you want folks that are the true gurus - but I've been at this for several months and have learned a few things along the way.
First, I'll give you the first WIIFM or "what's in it for me" assuming you are following the right people (and at least a few are following your back):
--Updates on tons of helpful information (industry research, relevant blog posts, breaking news) all at your finger tips
--An instant polling device
--Great network builder
--Good way to share your latest blog posts/podcasts.
Note: it's important to remember that like with community, it's a two way street. People are more inclined to pay attention to your message if you share other people's posts and reciprocate when they post.
--Potential for recruiting or being recruited
--Thought leadership builder
Now, how do you get started:
--Sign up at Twitter.com
--Make sure you update your profile with a pic (any pic) and a URL where people can find out more about you or your company. For most people, they point directly to their blog.
--Post several times (even if nobody is following you yet) about interesting posts you've read recently, good research, etc. - people are more inclined to follow if you've said something first.
--Start by following people friends or co-workers (I started with my friend Francois.) Just click on the links of who they are following and then select the "follow" button on under their picture.
--To direct a comment at someone, use the "@" symbol before their name e.g. "@astrout, thanks for the helpful post on how to use Twitter"
--If you want to reference a URL, be sure to shorten it first using Tinyurl.com (like text messaging on your phone, you only get 140 characters so shorter is better.)
NOTE: Apparently, Twitter now automatically converts URLs to the tinyurl format so ignore this bullet.
--When I post on my blog (or even comment on others' blogs), I try and always leave my Twitter name "@astrout" so if people like what I've said, they can continue the conversation on Twitter. I also include my Twitter name in my e-mail auto-signature.
Put any questions your have (or DM/e-mail me) in the comments. Chances are if you don't know the answer, others are wondering too.