I opened my Twitter account in February 2009 not because I was dying to become a Tweeter (I wasn’t) but because, being a web designer/developer, I thought I ought to know how it works. For my clients. I didn’t honestly know what I might end up doing with the account but I knew I needed to understand it.
I recall at the very beginning I found Andy Borowitz, somehow. Back then, he was tweeting frequently and he was very, very funny. I didn’t open Twitter often but as he was practically the only person I was following, I’d open it up occasionally when I needed a break from work and he provided all the light relief I could wish for. He stopped tweeting in 2012 but if you never enjoyed his tweets you can still find them here: BorowitzReport
If any of the other people I was following started breaking up my steady stream of Andy Borowitz tweets, I’d unfollow them unless they were extremely interesting — so mostly I followed inactive Tweeters and Andy Borowitz.
That was fine for me but what was I going to tweet? Obviously no one was paying attention to my account, so I began just using it as a personal archive of interesting articles that I found useful and might want to refer to someday; a personal timeline of mostly tech-news as it piqued my interest. I took my time and, paying attention to what I don’t like about some other peoples’ Twitter habits, I made tweets that shared helpful information. Even if I was just sharing that information to myself at that point, I think it was a good foundation.
I noticed that I instinctively refrained from following anyone who had the habit of making cryptic tweets, too many self-promoting tweets, or who posted the same tweet over and over (an annoying practice, in my opinion, whatever Guy Kawasaki thinks). Tweets I liked were those that gave me paths of information to follow and learn from, mostly — though I’ve still got room for people who amuse me on Twitter.
Things began to evolve for me this year as my partner and I began concept development for an app. I set up a Google filter for news on “innovative apps” and began getting emails every day with about three news articles about innovative apps. Some were really good, so I tweeted them. I have also been deluged for a while with information on content marketing and sometimes the articles I get on that are good, so I’ve tweeted the best of those.
My own Twitter account content has accordingly morphed into being more about app development and content marketing than about web design. It just happened; it’s where my curiosity took me. I began to follow a few people who tweet on these subjects (especially content marketing) and before I knew it, I was finding Twitter to be a favorite way to get new content of interest. Search for a hashtag and immediately there was an outpouring of highly up-to-date offerings.
I recently began doing more of the things you’re supposed to do: using hashtags, mentioning people by Twitter-handle, retweeting, following more people. Suddenly, pretty much every time I tweet, there are responses: someone follows me, someone favorites something I tweeted, etc. And my (admittedly tiny) following doubled in a matter of a few weeks.
We’ll see where this goes. What I’ve learned, though, is that it’s really not hard to compose a useful tweet for people on your topic of interest or expertise — and if you follow people who tweet in this information-sharing way, Twitter is a good tool for staying on top of the curve in your field.