Now that we’ve got our Twitter profile ready for it’s debut, it’s time to start following people. Yes, this sounds a bit stalker-ish, and it is, a little, because you’re subscribing to whatever someone else wants to tweet.
But although there are people out there tweeting about everything they ate for breakfast, you don’t have to do this – there can be some use in tweeting if you’ve eaten out at a great restaurant, but we’ll cover subjects to tweet on in a future post!
So let’s begin by logging into our home page again. If you left the box checked yesterday to keep you signed in on Twitter, going to twitter.com will automatically take you to your home page. Otherwise, you may need to sign in again.
Because we didn’t follow anyone yesterday, we’ve still got a lot of options listed for getting started, thanks to Twitter.
We’re going to start by looking for friends, which is the second section here. We have five options – gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL or LinkedIn. You can use any or all of these to search for people you might already know. Let’s go with Yahoo! to start with, since I use that for my personal emails.
I’ll click the Yahoo! link which pops up a new window where I have to authorize Twitter’s access of my Yahoo! account:
I’ll click "Agree" (You may also be required to sign in using your username and password for Yahoo! or the account you’re accessing) and I’m logged back into Twitter, which searches for my contacts using their email addresses. I get a page of those who are on Twitter:
It also notes at the top that 960 of my contacts are not on Twitter. I can invite them to join if I want to, but I generally recommend against this – people will join what they want to, and it always irritates me to get emails from people inviting me to join things.
From this page, we can start to "follow" people. This means we consent to see their tweets on our home page. As I’ve mentioned before, using the Twitter website isn’t the best option for this in my book, but we’ll talk about third party applications that make this simpler in the future.
Another note is that until you have 2,000 followers, you will be restricted to following only 2,000 people. This is one of the ways that Twitter tries to cut down on spammers following everyone under the sun.
At the top of the page, you’ll see one general follow button that says "Follow all 73" – if I wanted to follow everyone on this page, I can click that as one step. Otherwise, I can go through each of the individual accounts to decide if I want to follow them or not. I prefer the latter so that I can follow people more strategically.
Before we get started with following people, you’ll see that next to the "follow" button under each person’s profile, there’s another button with a silhouette and a down arrow. That gives you a drop down menu like this:
Since we’re loading these people in from our contacts, it’s unlikely that we’d want to use either of the bottom two options. But so that you know, you can report a profile for spam using this button by clicking on that link, or you can block that profile, so they won’t be able to follow you or see your tweets, and you won’t be able to see their tweets either.
The first option is to "Mention" that person – this is the "@" symbol that we talked about in the first post. When you want to send a public message to someone (basically a tweet addressed to them), you can click this to automatically put @their_name in a tweet box. Then you can type your tweet and send it to them (it’s publicly visible though). You can also just type @their_name if you prefer, which is generally easier to do.
You can also add this person to a list. Lists are something new that Twitter recently rolled out, which allow you to categorize people – note that these categories can be public or private, but when you assign one to someone, they are notified about it. So it’s important to be careful what you title them. The reason for lists is so that you can segregate people by subject area or profession, or however you would like so that you can filter out only their tweets to read. We’ll get into lists in more detail in a future post, but you may want to hold off on following too many people until we’ve covered that since it’s easier to put them in lists as you follow them, instead of having to go back and do it later.
Here’s another great tip – in the past, you would have to go to the person’s profile page to learn more about them. But now, when you click on someone’s profile in this list, it pops up in the right hand column:
From here, I can see his bio, location, web address, and how many tweets and followers the person has. This will let me know if the profile is worth following. Ordinarily, I won’t follow a profile with almost no followers and very few tweets, but I know Sergey, so I’ll follow him here.
I’ll go through the list and click the "follow" button for those I want to follow. Clicking the "follow" button is all you have to do to subscribe to someone’s tweets – how easy is that?
Now you’re following people!
When you follow someone, they are notified via email that you are following them. Those emails look something like this:
In this email, it will tell you that someone is following you. You can click on their Twitter name to go to their profile, or the button at the bottom that says "View @their_name’s profile." If it’s someone who has followed you, and you don’t already follow them and you want to, you’ll need to click through to their profile so that you can click the "follow" button on their page.
This email gives you the basics, which is very helpful – you can see the person’s photo and bio information, how many tweets they’ve tweeted and how many people they’re following and are following them.
You can also see how many people you’re following who are also following this person – it’s Twitter’s way of "vetting" them for you. If someone you like and trust is following this person, and you share interests, maybe you want to be following them too!
As I mentioned, when you follow someone, they’ll get an email like this about you, and that may prompt them to follow you back. Before you know it, you’ll be growing your list of followers.
I also want to include in here how you can add contacts from your address book to search for if you’re an existing Twitter user and don’t know where to look (I found out myself just this morning). At the top of your page is the main menu bar, including "Who to Follow:"
Click on this, and you’ll be taken to a list of suggestions for you based on your account – more on this in a minute. Above this list there are three tabs:
You can view Twitter’s suggestions, browse interests you have, or find friends. Click Find Friends, which brings you to this page:
It is here that you can search for contacts using the above services. Unfortunately, unlike LinkedIn, Twitter doesn’t yet have a way for you to upload contacts from Outlook to see if any of them are on Twitter. So you can either search for those people individually (a pain, and who has time for that?) or you can upload those contacts into one of the above services, and then search for them that way. If you’re not sure how to do that, ask an IT savvy person to assist you!
While we’re here, let’s look at Twitter’s recommendations for people for us to follow. Right now, I’m working from my existing profile, so this list will be fairly extensive – it’s based on the people that I follow and who they follow, so you may want to wait until you have a larger list to check this part out.
As an aside – although it is an ego boost, getting a lot of Twitter followers and following a lot of people is NOT the goal here. It’s far more important to follow and engage with the RIGHT people. Particularly since Twitter can easily become overwhelming if not carefully managed. So make sure when you’re following people that it’s someone that you want to engage with – and if you’re looking at this to make the right connections, that should be clients and potential clients, influencers in your industry, and journalists. For some great tips of Twitter for professionals, you’ll definitely want to check out Kevin O’Keefe’s webinar of the same name – the recording is available here.
Back to Twitter’s suggestions for me – when I click on that tab, I get a list that looks like this:
As you can see it’s similar to the last list, in that we get a follow button, as well as a silhouette and down arrow button. There’s also a "Hide" link if you don’t want to see this suggestion again.
You may also notice that some profiles have a teal check-mark circle, like the Lawyers.com one above. This means that Twitter has verified that profile, and the person or company behind it is who they say they are. This is more common among celebrities and companies than individuals, but it can be useful. You may also notice a little lock, like next to John O’Keeffe’s profile. This means that the person has protected their tweets, and only people that they give permission to can see them. I’ll get more into that when we talk about settings, but for now, note that if you want to follow someone with protected tweets, you’re "follow" only sends them a request, and doesn’t allow you to subscribe until they give you permission.
So I’ve followed a few of Twitter’s suggestions, and now I want to search by interest area. I click on the next tab, "Browse Interests" and get this screen:
This allows me to browse profiles by interest and follow those that intrigue me. Maybe I’m interested in having some funny people in my tweet stream – I’ll click funny for that list:
I get a list of 57 suggestions from Twitter that I can follow if I like. I choose those I want to follow, and click the "Follow" button next to each.
Then, we click on "Home" to go back to our main Twitter page…and people’s tweets are coming in!
We’ll talk more about the breakdown of the home page in the next post, but in the meantime, get out there and start connecting!