No Pain, No Gain

Jenn Riggle is an associate vice president at CRT/tanaka, a public relations and marketing firm with offices across the country.

This past Christmas marked my one-year anniversary on Twitter. I thought I’d reflect on the tips and tricks I’ve learned about the social network over the past 12 months:

Three Is a Magic Number

Like exercise, walking your dog and drinking water, it takes time to add anything new to your already busy schedule. That’s why it’s important to make a concerted effort to tweet at least three times a day during the week. To do this, I’ve created a tweet schedule:

1. Send out my first tweet early in the morning when I’m checking my e-mail and catching up on the morning’s news.
2. Send out a second tweet during lunch, when I’m reading list serves that populate my e-mail box.
3. Send out a third tweet sometime during the day, whether it’s an observation, conversational tweet or another article that interests me.

Granted there are days when I tweet more than three times, but by scheduling tweets into my day, I don’t go days without tweeting, even when work and life get crazy.

The Power of Hashtags

A hashtag is any word in Twitter that is immediately preceded by the “#” symbol (aka the hash). By using a hashtag, you’re signaling that you want people to find your tweet and associate it with other tweets with the same hashtag. While this may seem esoteric, hashtags are a great way to target your tweets so they reach a specific audience. If you mark your tweet with #social media or #American craft, you’re labeling it as something that will interest people who follow these topics.

Direct Messages Aren’t Just Spam

For a long time, I thought Direct Messages (DMs) were just the annoying automated messages people sent to thank people for following them. However, recently I learned that while Twitter is all about conversation, there’s a second level of conversation happening behind the curtain. If you follow someone (and they follow you), you can send direct messages to each other. This is a great way to send a personal message to friends, pitch a story idea to a reporter (provided they follow you) or have a side conversation during a seminar where people are “live-tweeting.”

Sharing Is a Good Thing

You’ve probably watched the Verizon commercial that shows teens telling their parents they’re frustrated that their mom writes “I love you” all over their Facebook wall and their dad tweets about sitting on the porch. And while status updates are fine, they can make a boring Twitter stream. Instead, it’s more interesting to use Twitter as a way to share interesting articles, observations or engage in conversation with colleagues.

It’s Important to Retweet

Social media is all about listening. And retweeting is a great way to show you’re reading what other people are saying and find it worthy of sharing. Don’t feel bad that you didn’t find the article first—simply put a RT before the person’s Twitter handle (RT @riggrl) before or after the tweet so you can share information with your followers and acknowledge the person who originally sent the tweet. It’s a great way to form a relationship with other people on Twitter.

Sometimes You Don’t Have Anything to Say

And that’s okay. I’m not sure how coherent I am at 5 a.m. But since I work in PR and marketing, I spend a lot of time reading. That’s why I love sharing news stories with others. Or it’s another great reason to retweet someone else’s comment or tweet. Or maybe you can dust off your copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and find an interesting quote that is relevant or thought provoking.

TweetDeck Can Change Your Life

Until I started using TweetDeck, it was nearly impossible for me to track conversation about topics that interest me, or see what my friends were tweeting. TweetDeck has made Twitter more manageable, allowing me to create lists of people I think are interesting and follow hashtags so I can see what’s being said about an issue. Now I feel like I’m managing my Twitter usage, rather than the other way around.

Manners Are Important, But You Don’t Have to Thank People for RTs

There are a lot of people who thank people for retweeting their messages. And while this helps to add content to your Twitter stream (and hopefully attract more followers), some people view it as spam. I read an interesting article by Valerie Merahn Simon that said that people RT information because it teaches them something, and that they are sharing the information because it provides value, not as a favor. So you shouldn’t feel compelled to thank others for RTs.

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