Twitter: A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media & Self Improvement

DenaMarch 22, 2011

Have I mentioned lately that I adore social media? Well, I really do. I’ve met some of the most incredible people I know via social media. My tribe is way more active in the social media realm than it even is on my actual blog! My tribe loves Twitter & Facebook and so do I. When my Facebook posts get a “Like” or my tweets get a “Retweet” my little heart goes aflutter with joy. 🙂

Everybody knows that social media is a great way to grow a blog, network with like-minded folks, and increase your business; but what I’ve learned it that it’s also an incredibly effective tool for personal development and self improvement!

While there are tons of social media venues online today, I focus my social media efforts in two places: Twitter and Facebook. I get the most bang for my buck in these places and with the digital overwhelm that is “the Internet” today, we need to be selective about where and how we spend our time online. Today I am going to focus on what I’ve loved & learned about Twitter and how you can use it to enrich your own life, too. If you are new to Twitter, no worries, I’ve got you covered.

Twitter 101 – The Basics
I know, I know. Twitter scares the heck out of people! Maybe even you? Twitter can be so overwhelming that we fear just logging in, let alone interacting! Here‘s the thing—I was there! When I originally opened my Twitter account, I logged in four or five times and then ran for the hills with my tail tucked between my legs.

Tweets, tweeps, #hashtags, @replies, Retweets, DM’s, Followers, Following, #FF… WTF!?

Yes, it’s a lot to take in, but remember—it’s worth it. There is a reason why Twitter has 190 million users, and generates 65 million tweets a day! There is no other place on the Web that houses so much opportunity for interaction, relationship-building, and self improvement. If you slow down, ask for help, and stick with it, you’ll get the hang of it. For me, it took about three weeks of active usage (meaning logging in at least three times per day for 10-20 minutes a pop and engaging) to get the hang of it. And yes, clearly I came back to Twitter about six months after my initial panic-stricken retreat and have not walked (or ran) away since. 😉

Currently I follow just over 300 Tweeps and I have over 900 followers myself. I can not say enough good things about the community that I have created and engaged with on Twitter. Here is a Twitter vocabulary lesson that will help get you started and eliminate the WTF!? feeling referenced above.

Tweets – On Twitter you can express yourself in 140 characters at a time. These expressions are published and shared on your personal Twitter feed. The people following you will see these expressions. The expressions are called Tweets.

Tweeps – The people following you and the people that you follow are your Tweeps. You know how some people call their people their “peeps?” The word Tweeps is just like that.

#hashtags – #hashtags are a method of categorizing Tweets. They are just like tags. For example, if you write a Tweet about Dalmatians, you can tag it with a #hashtag. At the end of the Tweet, simply type #Dalmatians. That way, any Tweep who is looking for other Tweeps discussing Dalmatians can easily find you & your Tweet. Likewise, if you are looking for Tweets about bulldogs, you can do a Twitter search for bulldogs and every tweet that is tagged with the #hastag #bulldog will show up for you (in order of newest to oldest). #hashtags make it easy to find other Tweeps who are talking about things that interest you.

@replies – In all of the madness, how do you know when someone is talking to/interacting with you? The answer to that is @replies. Whenever someone is talking to/engaging with you they will @reply you. That simply means they will type your Twitter handle in the Tweet that references you. You can view your @replies anytime and therefore you will know when someone speaks to/references/engages with you.

Retweets – If you enjoy something that another person Tweets, with the click of a button you can easily Retweet it and share it with your followers. Likewise, if a person enjoys something that you Tweet, they can Retweet it and share it with their followers, too. If someone Retweets your Tweet, an @reply will automatically be created so that you can say thank you. On Twitter, Retweet is always abbreviated as RT.

DM’s – DM stands for Direct Message. If you don’t want to publicly address a Tweep, you can send them a DM which will be sent directly to his or her Twitter inbox. Likewise, Tweeps can DM you. If you would rather not receive DM’s, you can turn off the DM feature in your Twitter account settings.

Followers & Following – On your Twitter profile you will see these two headings and each will have a number beside it. The number next to followers represents the total number of Tweeps following your Twitter stream. The number next to Following represents the total number of Tweeps that you are following.

#FF – Finally, #FF is a #hashtag that stands for Follow Friday. If you would like to recommend a special Tweep to your Followers, just create a Tweet including that person’s Twitter handle and #FF. For example, this Friday you could Tweet: Hey Tweeps, follow @denabotbyl. She rocks! #FF It’s a great compliment to the recipient and maybe one day she will return the favor. 😉

It seems like a lot, but if you can get a grasp on these nine basic elements of Twitter, you will be a Twitter pro in no time at all. Just like any technology, it’s really a matter of practice. Stick with it and don’t be afraid to reach out to the Twitter community (or me!) for help.

Self Improvement
So what does Twitter have to do with self improvement?—you ask. Well, a lot actually! The online arena for self improvement is enormous. There are thousands of blogs, websites, e-books, and resources that want to teach you how to “Live Your Best Life,” “Be Your Best Self,” and yes… “Create the Life of Your Dreams.” The beautiful thing about Twitter is that once you get the hang of it, it provides you with an incredible tool to sort through the B.S. and find the real gems.

As I mentioned above, I currently have about 900 followers, but I only follow 300 Tweeps. This is not a coincidence. For me, Twitter is not about gaining the highest number of followers or marketing my website or being popular. For me, Twitter is about engaging in a meaningful community and forming mutually beneficial relationships. Through my interaction on Twitter, I now have a network of over 300 incredible, unique, and dynamic friends all across the globe.

What to Avoid
Just as there is a ton of worthless “self improvement” content on the Web. There is also an endless supply of it on Twitter. If you are looking to find meaning on Twitter, it is important to be discerning about which Tweeps you follow. As for me, I refuse to follow Tweeps that are annoying, are pumping out B.S., are only trying to market their site or product, etc. The Tweeps I follow share content that is useful and interesting to me. My absolute favourite Tweeps make it on to “My Favorites” list. Anytime I need inspiration, I can always just have a look at what my favorite Tweeps are posting there. My favorites consistently share brilliant ideas and recommend links that I will enjoy. This provides me with an endless stream of inspirational content whether I’m brainstorming for my own post or just looking for something to read in my downtime.

When it comes to self improvement and personal development, relationships are incredibly important. The people, places, and things that we surround ourselves with can make or break our attempts to lead our best lives and be our best selves. It is not always easy, however, to form and maintain relationships with like-minded, supportive, creative, and interesting people! Until of course… you become active on Twitter. It truly is a simple platform that allows for really complex and positive relationship-building. Being connected to others on Twitter provides you with an ever-present and positive connection, even if you don’t connect personally every, single day.

In addition to all of the great content, Twitter has allowed me to form invaluable friendships. I have met some of my very best “online” friends and biggest supporters on Twitter. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. So, now it’s your turn! If you’ve been intimidated to get on Twitter, go create an account and get to self improving. If you’re already on Twitter, then let us know what you love about it! And remember to follow me @denabotbyl. 😉

Comments (6)

  • Brenda

    March 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    great starter guide! You really simplified the whole thing and made it easy to understand.

    1. Dena

      March 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      @ Brenda – So glad that you found the guide to be useful. Let me know if you have any other questions & be sure to add me on Twitter! 🙂

  • Mint Palace

    April 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Ahhh now I know what #FF is!! hehe. Thanks so much… this is such a great post and I am going to save it so I can refer to it from time to time. I also follow you on twitter now 🙂 Be well 🙂

    1. Dena

      April 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

      @ Mint – Hehe. So glad that this post was helpful to you! I’ve just followed you back. Let me know if you have any other questions. 😉

  • Bill Cannon (bgunner)

    August 24, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Dean, this is the clearest and most concise blog I’ve seen about Twitter. Thank you for writing it. I just followed you so that watch for more of your insights.

    1. Dena

      August 25, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Hey Bill! So glad to hear that you found the post useful. Glad to make the connection on Twitter. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help. 🙂

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