Last Updated: 09 Nov 2016

 

I’m sure you’ll agree that Twitter can be an intimidating experience.

I know when I started out it blew my mind with so many questions. When is the best time of day to post? What hashtags should I use and how many? how do I increase my followers? How to use twitter for business? How do I use the different Twitter features and tools?

The good news for you is that we’ve done a LOT of tweeting and read a lot of articles as well as tried a LOT of Twitter tools which means that we’re hopefully about to save you a lot of pain.

Whether you’re looking to use Twitter for yourself or want to find out how to tweet for business, we’ve created these easy-to-follow Twitter tips for beginners to give you some incredibly actionable insights that WILL deliver rapid results.

We also realise that most people are on tight budgets and so we’ve been sure to include some of the best free Twitter tools out there.

1. Look good and have something interesting to say  

When it comes to Twitter basics for beginners, this one might sound obvious, but if you’re a business, then you want people to retweet your message. Ultimately, it’s all about increasing your profile and getting people to share your insights.

Companies that put unique and interesting content on Twitter can pretty much guarantee retweets and new followers.

People even like to see photos of what’s going on within companies, so business tweets need not always be formal and stiff.

Likewise, pay close attention to your Twitter profile page which was recently beefed up by Twitter to be more visual. Any business on Twitter should have a polished landing page as first impressions always count.

                   Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 13.46.55                 Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 14.04.43                                                                  Bland and unimaginative tweets (right) are ineffective. You’re better off not tweeting!

2. Use #######hashtags 

Hashtags are a cornerstone of Twitter for beginners and an essential tool to amplify your content.

You create them by just adding a hash # symbol (or pound sign as it is known in the US) to a word or phrase and anyone can search against that word or phrase to see all tweets.

And you know what the great thing is?

No one owns a hashtag so you can make your own or tap into an existing one. You’ll notice trending topics on the Twitter homepage which usually analyse keywords or hashtags to tell you what’s being talked about the most.

Hashtags are a MUST for amplifying your content and putting it in front of more people than those that follow you.

To research the most relevant hashtags then take a look at Hashtagify.me which enables you to see the popularity of a hashtag as well as any others that are related and may be even better.

It’s also worth taking a look at Sopularity that can recommend hashtags for you as you tweet. Bear in mind that there’s nothing worse than people who Hashjack (using irrelevant hashtags only because they’re trending).

3. Limit your hashtags 

Hashtags may be good but seeing a tweet covered in blue is just a huge turn-off.

This excellent article from the team behind the scheduling tool Buffer (more about that later) have said that you should keep it to one or two hashtags at the most.

Remember the golden rule of Hashtags…………

A scientific study found that “When you use more than two hashtags, your engagement actually drops by an average of 17 percent“. 

10 twitter tips for beginners that will boost your skills

4. Retweet or favourite other people’s tweets 

It’s great to show other people some love right?

People like being retweeted, which means that you’re sharing their content with your followers. It’s a bit like the ‘share’ button on Facebook.

It’s also good to retweet people because they receive an instant notification when you do so. The little heart button also gives you the ability to ‘like’ a tweet.

And better still…………

When you like or retweet someone, then that person will also be notified which is a great way of inadvertently getting someone’s attention.

5. Use Twitter management tools

There are some great FREE Twitter management tools out there to help you manage anything from one to multiple Twitter accounts.

The two best tools that we recommend are Hootsuite and Tweetdeck (which is owned by Twitter).

Several articles are comparing one with the other, and both are free, but here at Big Ideas Machine we tend to err on the side of Hootsuite due to its auto scheduling feature (more about that later).

The main advantage of a Twitter management tools is that you can see a lot of valuable information on the screen at once. You can easily create columns to show key things like mentions, sent tweets and retweets.

Both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck will save you time and effort. If you’re using Twitter for business then the paid versions of these tools enable more functionality such as team collaboration which is essential for companies where multiple people manage social media.

And if that’s not enough…..

A management tool also lets you manage other social networks like Linkedin and Facebook which you’re most likely also going to be active on.

Hootsuite-Twitter-1024x386

 6. Schedule your tweets

If you’re not live tweeting at an event where you have to react to something in real-time (such as a conference, sports match or TV/radio show), then we recommend that you schedule your tweets. This will optimise your reach and ensure that your tweets are read by the right people at the right time.

And the great news is

Some services automatically do this for you for FREE!

Hootsuite (mentioned earlier) has a free auto-scheduling tool. If you’re happy to pay a small amount, then we also recommend

If you’re glad to pay a small amount, then we also recommend Buffer to queue up your tweets. Although Buffer is very reasonable at only $10 a month for the lowest tier paid version, you could also try Circular which is free.

The great thing about auto scheduling your Tweers is that it allows you to post over the weekend too.

If you’re wondering about the best time of day to Tweet, then there’s also a useful cheat sheet from Firstsiteguide on the best time of day to post to social networks here.

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7. Be analytical 

One of our biggest twitter tips for business is the need to analyse your efforts. Whatever you’re company size then Twitter analytics is essential.

But wait a second

We’re also realists. We appreciate that having an in-house social media analyst isn’t a reality for most. This is especially the case when you consider using Twitter for small business.

The good news is that there are tools out there for everyone, ebabling you  to inexpensively help analyse your followers and the impact of your tweets.

Perhaps one of the best is Audiense, a powerful, affordable tweet analytics and new follower tool.

A firm favourite in our office for its sheer affordability is Twitonomy that that gives you a LOT for free.

And don’t forget this little-known fact……..

Twitter recently made their advertising analytics available to ALL customers, meaning you can now see vital stats on your account. Just visit Twitter Analytics and sign in to see your engagement rate and other stats.

 

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8. Keep it brief 

Space is at a premium on Twitter so be efficient with your messages.

Another interesting article from Buffer claims that the optimal tweet is 100 characters, with a recent report by Buddy Media showing that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate.

And here’s another incredibly useful and FREE tool

Bitly is a great way to truncate any URL’s. Bitly is free and has inbuilt analytics so you can see how many people clicked on your link.

bitly-stats

And here’s some even better news

Twitter recently delivered two critical updates to give you more space for your tweets.

  1. Twitter no longer counts @name in the word count when you reply to people.
  2. When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your Tweet

8. Be visual 

The great news is that Twitter has improved the look of its timeline by embedding more images and videos.

According to Twitter’s blogpost What fuels a tweet’s engagement? – Photos average a 35% boost in retweets and videos average 28%.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.45.25

And now you can ………..

Make amazing images for social media with absolutely no design skills!

There are some great free tools out there to help you create social media images, and the great thing is that they even resize the images to the network that you’re using.

Check out Pablo by Buffer which has been designed for social media and Canva which is a more fleshed out design tool but can also cater to your social media needs. Both are excellent, and best of all are totally free!

9. Find quality followers 

Finding real fans can be hard. You can quickly go and buy several thousand followers for $5, and plenty of people do so to swell their ranks and look impressive.

But that can cause a massive problem …….

The problem is that these are all ‘bots’ and they won’t affect your Google or Klout ratings. We recommend that you DON’t do it.

Here’s a great way we found to find quality followers…

 

crowdfire-screenshot-2

Crowdfire is one of our top Twitter tools because it enables you to find new users. It does this by enabling you to follow people who follow something similar to you.

Sounds confusing ? OK. Here’s how it works.

Say you sell Star Wars memorabilia (bear with me here), and you need to find Star Wars Fans.

All you need to do is this one simple thing…..

Find Twitter accounts related to Star Wars or related area – actors, fan groups, sci-fi movies – the list is endless. Crowdfire then gives you their best and most influential people to follow.

The all you need to do is follow them. Once you follow these fans then they receive an alert and see that you’re interesting and may then decide to follow you back.

Seriously – getting quality followers is that easy!

Crowdfire is pretty much one of the best and most cost effective Twitter follower tools. By enabling you to follow like-minded, targeted and relevant individuals, you will grow your fan base.

As a follower manager tool, Crowdfire helps you keep your followers tidy by removing anyone who may not be following you back and it also knows who you have unfollowed, so won’t suggest them again. You can bulk follow and unfollow people with ease!

But whatever you do don’t forget this golden rule……….

Don’t follow hundreds of people a day. Aggressively following people can lead to Twitter suspension! (see below)

10. Don’t get sent to Twitter prison 

None of us likes to go to Twitter prison. It usually means that your account will be suspended.

There are a variety of reasons, which you would do well to read on Twitter’s rules page here. Typically, you’d be suspended for aggressively following too many people or spamming people with irrelevant tweets.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 14.49.59Using Crowdfire will cap how many people you follow – pretty handy for avoiding Twitter jail!

11. Take the time to design your profile correctly

Meet Liz Dashwood:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.25.55

We have no idea who Liz is, but we know she’s been a Twitter user since December, is a columnist for The Pool and care’s about baked potatoes.

Now let’s meet Tim:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.28.05

Tim writes about Apple, VR, games and other cool stuff. He also has over 300 vine loops and his website.

So which is the better profile?

The differences are obvious: While Liz is a semi-active user who is using social media as a means of boosting her professional profile, she hasn’t taken the time to set-up all facets of her account.

Liz’s  profile picture remains the default Twitter egg; her banner is the stock blue strip, and she has no links to other social profiles (VITAL for profile building.)

Another problem is it’s difficult to find people if their profile is incomplete.

Twitter is clever. There’s a big old algorithm behind this that we won’t even pretend to understand, but in short, it identifies active users, assigns a whole bunch of keywords based on what they tweet, and makes sure they come out first in search results

When starting off you’re inevitably going to be a “Liz egg,” but that’s OK! Take the time to create a full profile. Combined with regular tweets, you’re going to rank, be discovered and show off your page to as many people as possible.

To get you started, check out HubSpot’s guide to absolutely every Twitter image dimension you’ll ever need.

For creating the perfect profile text, check out SproutSocial’s beginners guide.

12. Use Twitter lists to divide your interests or audiences

Twitter gets messy. Between loyalty follow backs (those obliged follow back because a client – or potential client – followed you) and regular follows, you’re going to have a feed of potentially hundreds, even thousands, of users.

So backup for a second, and think about how you’re going to manage all these people.

If you’re a business and want to grow your social profile, you’re going to need to follow large groups of individuals to get those all important follow-backs.

We’ve already talked about using Crowdfire, so on the assumption that’s what you’ll be using, you’ll need to segment the many, many people you follow into dedicated lists. This is so that you can split “Crowdfire fodder” with “actual audiences”.

This is tricky. You’re going to forget to do it and to be frank; it’s not fun in the slightest.

Here’s how you do it

Get yourself signed up to “Do You Even List?” It’s a free service that automatically generates multiple (or a single) Twitter lists, segmenting your audiences based on who interacts with you the most.

You may find with time you’ll want to do this manually, and we haven’t quite figured out a way to create lists based on anything more than basic engagement, but it’s an excellent way to kickstart your social strategy and identify who you should be interacting with.

It also avoids telling people they’ve been added to an elusive list…

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.06.44

13. Identify the patterns to see what’s working

Once you’ve got the hang of how to use Twitter, you’re going to need to see what’s working. Fortunately, Twitter’s tool makes this a piece of cake.

As mentioned, Twitter Analytics will break down followers, audience, engagement, interactions and so on. More importantly, it’ll show what tweets are being heavily shared.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.23.48

Let’s take Big Ideas Machine’s analytics:

56.2k impression. A solid month. Looking at the stats below, our second top tweet was heavily shared at an event we were at, the eMarketer’s Attention! event. But here’s where the data get’s a little skewed…

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.54.06

An entirely silly trending hashtag we jumped on was our third ‘best’ tweet of the month…

It’s hard to evaluate anomalies, but this tells us something important

It teaches us that a single tweet generated the third most impressions (and highest engagement by miles) than any piece of content we shared that month. It also tells us that people like silly tweets, and that’s good for us as we try to balance the serious with the outlandish.

With any luck, you’re going to find similar trends and patterns to help you evaluate your social activity going forward.

14. Use Twitter’s Help Center

If you’re a veteran Twitter user, you may remember looking for help on a page that looked something like this:

twitter-how-can-we-help

It wasn’t useful in the slightest. It gave you a few options with regards to general issues, but it wasn’t necessarily broad enough to cover all aspects of help – particularly when starting off.

Fortunately, Twitter’s  Help Center is far more polished now than it’s ever been.

It now extends far beyond helping troubleshooting account or security issues to give new users help on what they need to get started. Very basic questions such as “Should I protect my tweets?” and “How do I reply to people and Tweets?” are all answered with clarity here.

If you feel you’re becoming a little more familiar with Twitter and want to take your skills to the next level, Twitter has documentation and help sections on using its other tools such as Tweetdeck and Vine here.

15. Get started on the right foot

Great news!

You’re up and running with Twitter.

Bad news: You now have to start doing something with it.

You’re going to get very excited and put your Twitter profile on your website, marketing materials, business cards and other social channels, which will certainly help drive traffic.

This is also going to lead to questions and comments flying in from existing or new customers or clients.

If you’re uncomfortable with using Twitter and don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to want to back away from this commitment until you’re ready.

Take the time to play around with Twitter, speak to friends and family already using it; Only then should you begin publicising your account. After all, if customers or clients are feeling ignored because you’re not replying to tweets and messages, how’s that going to look for your brand’s image?

16. Don’t give up

We’re not going to lie to you

Twitter can be pretty boring at first.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.06.34               Riveting…

Within the first month, you’ll get the same 20 people tweeting the same types of things over and over again.

You’ll likely follow the recommended accounts Twitter forces upon you, like Kim Kardashian, TFL, or an obscure comedian you, nor your business, has any interest in.

Here’s the good news

Once you grow your followers, start connecting with real people, create a FULL profile and begin tweeting, you’ll soon realise that, what was once a timeline of junk, has suddenly become interesting.

If you’re a business, don’t expect an immediate pay-off. Tweeting to 8 followers might not seem worthwhile, to begin with, but earning retweets, likes and shares will soon have your profile find its way to the relevant Twitter communities. It’s just going to take a bit of time, and a bit of effort.

So there you have it, our best collection of Twitter Tips for beginners. We’d love to hear from you if you think that we’ve missed anything out or you have any questions.

If you enjoyed this article, then be sure also to read our 20 Live tweeting tips that will boost your skills. When you’re beginning to feel more confident then check out our other post How to really boost your Twitter power skills 

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