What the Tweet?!?? A rookie’s guide to Twitter

You’ve probably heard of Twitter. It is rapidly becoming extremely popular–some say, even more popular than Facebook. If you’re wondering what all the hoopla is about, and what the point is of joining another huge time-waster, read on!

For this blog post, I interview Trilby Jeeves, actor and instructor of the fine art of “Le Bouffon”. She says of

Trilby Jeeves talks about the Twitter phenomenon
Trilby Jeeves

her Twitter experience:

“I started a few months ago, and was very reticent to get involved. Then slowly I started joining some conversations, and when I got some responses I started getting hooked. Then I started being encouraged for my writing, and I started learning from different people’s blogs, and then I started enjoying helping others, too. I like giving book suggestions, video suggestions, moral support…. It’s all about building trust. You find your voice and the people who like your voice and vice versa. I’m still finding my twitter voice, but its coming. I read someone’s twitter advice which was don’t just try to be clever… be true to you and that’s when the followers come. I still wish there was a better word for “follower”!!”

TAoTB: What is Twitter?
TJ: Twitter is micro-blogging. You have only 140 characters to express or share a thought. For me, it’s an online global networking party, and it’s live–conversations and information are being shared constantly. Because it is global there are always people sharing thoughts, and they can be personal or informational. Maybe the best thing to compare it to is your status line on Facebook. I would like to start a blog and I find this is a great introduction to that world.

TAoTB: How does it work?
TJ: Once you sign up, you start looking for interesting people to “follow”, namely, people who share similar interests or who have experience from which you would like to learn. You can do this by uploading your email address book and seeing how many people you already know are on Twitter (note: the ‘Search’ feature is disabled on Twitter right now). You can also use a site like Twellow. Once you are following someone, you can look at who else is following him or her or who they are following and link up with them. It’s amazing how quickly your list of followers can grow.

TAoTB: How can Twitter help me to market my arts-based business?

TJ: Through developing relationships online, you have an opportunity to help people, and to have people help you. A lot of artists, actors, writers, and people in the creative world won’t venture into social networking because they are scared it will take them away from their work. Once you have figured out the system, though, you can let it work for you, and it takes up less of your time.  It really is like any networking where everyone shares his or her work, and maybe someone knows someone who could use your service. All Twitter does is increase the possibility of more exposure, both in your own community, and globally. I know that traffic to my own website has increased a lot from Twitter. And people are hearing about “Le Bouffon” in an indirect way, which is also good for me. This could eventually translate to business!

Marketing is traditionally where artists fall short because it isn’t where their interests lie, but the reality is, if you wish to make a living from your art you need to let people know it exists! Setting aside a small amount of daily time to use the social networking tools can open up doors for you. I’ve already made some super interesting contacts. I needed an actor to help with our workshop in Singapore and we found him on Twitter! (He also took us to a great restaurant for seafood!)

TAoTB: What do I need to know to get started?

TJ: Go to www.twitter.com and choose a user name. This is the name you will be known by online, so make sure it has something to do with your business. For example, my Twitter name is TJBuffonery. Or if you are branding your name, use your own name. Once you choose your username and password, you need to set up your profile, which should reflect who you are and what you do, and it’s the place to put your blog, or your website.

Now you can start looking for people to ‘Follow’. You do this by looking at their profile page, and then you click the little grey button beneath their name that says “Follow.” You are now following them, and when they publish a post, or “Tweet”, you will see it when you log on to Twitter. Conversely, anyone who is following you will be able to read your Tweets.

You can now also start posting. But you only have 140 characters for your post so you get good at concise writing. You can ask for advice or help, or respond to someone else’s request, or it’s equally okay to write personal stuff. I think the best Tweeters are those that post a mix of personal and business. If you are a blogger, Twitter is a great place to announce a new blog post or invite people to look at your latest Flickr stream.

Some notes about using Twitter:

  • Although the space is limited in Twitter, most people still use full sentences whenever possible, instead of using shorthand like a text message. For example, you should write “later” instead of “l8tr”
  • When you are posting a URL that you want people to look at, it is common to use a service like Tiny URL or SnipURL to shorten the size of your URL. That way your whole post is not taken up with just the URL.
  • There are two ways to directly message your followers or people you are following on Twitter. One is through Direct Messaging (DM), which is kind of like sending an email–only that person will see the message. The second way is an @ message, where you write something like “Writing a blog post on Twitter for newbies with @rebeccacoleman.” This kind of post will be able to be viewed by anyone following you. It’s a way of introducing people to other people in your network. Also, if you include another person in the post with @ that person will also see the update.

Those are the basics of Twitter, but before you get too into it, you might want to read an online resource that can give you some more detailed rules, like  http://twitterhandbook.com/blog. This article by Jeff Woekler is also great: Seven Secrets of Highly Successful Twitters.

Trilby Jeeves is an actor and instructor of “Le Bouffon.” She is passionate about helping people break through their critical and overworked thoughts to reach the honest depths of instinctive performance. She is an active social networker, and you may follow her on Twitter @tjbuffoonery. Her website is: www.buffooneryworkshops.com

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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