When I started blogging I found myself on a huge learning curve. Bloggers need to be writers, photographers, designers, SEO experts and social media gurus. To help make things a little easier for up and coming bloggers, I’ll be sharing tips I have picked up along the way in this new series of articles. Starting with the social media platform Twitter, I hope you find it useful.
Twitter is one of my favourite platforms for promoting my blog and sharing my adventures when I travel. Out of all the social media networks that I have tried, this is the one that I have not had to jump through hoops figuring out how it works or how to gain more followers and keep them.
If you are unsure of any terms or expressions I’ve used, you’ll find a glossary at the end of the post.
I’ll be sharing more Twitter tips and showing you how to save time by scheduling tweets with ViralTag in another blog post, How to schedule tweets with ViralTag.
Why use Twitter?
Twitter is a great way to promote your business and create a network of people who are interested in what you do, whether you’re a blogger just starting out or a huge multinational. It is a wonderful microblogging platform and the perfect place to ask questions and pick up tips.
Using Twitter as a microblog during a Press Trip to Northern Ireland.
Starting out on Twitter
1. Pick a handle
Signing up for Twitter is easy. The hardest thing is thinking up a handle (also known as ‘username’) that isn’t already taken and is less than 16 characters long. To help people find you it should be easy to spell and remember and exactly the same across all your social media networks, if possible. Someone following you on Instagram might also want to follow you on Twitter and Pinterest, for instance. Using the same handle makes you more discoverable. My travel blog is called Travel With Kat and my social media handle across the board is TravelWithKat.
If like me, you are from the UK, it’s quite handy to pick something spelt the same in the UK as it is in the USA. For example, having the word ‘traveller’ in your handle can make you harder to find by people from the US as they’ll be typing ‘traveler’ with only one ‘l’.
2. Optimize your profile
Before you start following people you should set up your profile. No one wants to follow someone back who has not bothered to introduce themselves through their profile or added a picture.
Start off by clicking the ‘Edit profile’ button (top right just under the header image).
Add a profile image
This is the smaller round image. It could be your logo or a head and shoulder photograph of yourself. I would go with the latter if you are a blogger and make sure you are smiling and looking friendly and approachable. The optimum size is 400 by 400 pixels. If you are using your logo you may need to ask your designer to create a round version as a square logo can look terrible in a round picture box.
Add a header image
Your header image should be connected to what you do and should ideally be 1,500 pixels wide by 500 pixels high. One easy way to do this is to use the website Canva. It is free to join and has a ton of useful templates including a set of Social Media and Email Headers. Select the Twitter Header. Select your photo. Make sure it is at least as big as 1500 by 500 pixels. If it is smaller than this it will look dreadful when someone looks at your profile on a large monitor. Upload it to Canva. Add some text if you wish. Download the finished image as a jpeg. It will automatically be the right size for your Twitter header.
Check how it looks in different sized windows on your PC, as well as on mobiles and tablets. This is especially important if you have added any text.
Add a short bio
This is used by Twitter when people are searching for accounts to follow. And I virtually never follow back someone who has left this blank. I want to know what you are tweeting about. Mine starts off with ‘Travel photographer, writer & blogger…’ As a result, I get 4 different groups of people following me – people who are interested in travel, photography, writing and blogging. I’m sure this is one of the reasons why I get new followers every day.
Add your website or blog’s URL
Pick a theme colour
It’s easy to change the colour theme of your profile but you can only do this on a computer. It doesn’t come up as an option on my mobile. To keep your brand consistent pick a colour from your logo or website.
3. Using images
Tweets that include photographs or illustrations are far more likely to be read so it’s a good idea to include one whenever possible. If you are a good photographer people will love seeing your photos. I rarely use other people’s photos but if you need to there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. But make sure you don’t infringe on anybody’s copyright. Many people think you can just help yourself to other people’s photographs on the internet. Using them is usually breaching copyright and you could face a hefty bill if you do. Pexels, Unsplash and Pixabay are useful sources of copyright-free stock images that you can use.
A tweet with an image gets on average 150% more retweets than a tweet with only text.
4. Adding text to photos
Adding text to photos can also work well in your Twitter feed to make them stand out in an ocean of tweets. You can make images with text in Canva. They also have some great stock photos you can use in their templates for free or at very little cost. When I don’t already have an image I need, I can usually find something suitable on Canva, such as the one I’ve used in the header and pin for this post. It saves a lot of time.
For example, your first tweet could be…
5. Use hashtags
People use hashtags to find tweets that interest them either by clicking on a hashtag in an existing tweet or by typing a hashtag into the search field.
Notice the hashtags I’ve used in the example above. While it looks bad to include too many, always include one or two relevant hashtags as they are a great way for new people to discover you.
6. Search for people to follow
Now that your profile is set up and you’ve sent at least one tweet (although a few would be better), start searching for people to follow. I find the easiest way to do this is on my laptop. Type in your keyword, for example ‘travel blogger’, ignore the list that drops down and instead press return. Then click on the ‘people’ tab. A list of people’s profiles will come up and you can select which ones to follow.
7. Follow people back
It’s entirely up to you but I feel that if someone bothers to follow me, I should follow them back. The exceptions are if they are tweeting about topics I’m really not interested in or they are tweeting in a language I can’t read. As with many social media networks, some people follow you in the hope you will follow them back, only to then unfollow you. This sucks, but it’s a common tactic. They think having a high number of followers compared to the number they are following makes them look cool. Personally, I think the opposite. Of course, there is no obligation to follow anyone back but I’ve always had the impression that Twitter will notice if you do tend to follow back and, as a consequence, are more likely to suggest you as someone to follow. I don’t know this for sure but these tactics have certainly worked for me.
8. Use lists
The downside of following back almost everyone that follows you means that you have a very busy Twitter feed. This is where lists come in. Start a private list of all your favourite Twitter accounts and use this to filter your feed. If you are on your laptop, click the small copy of your image profile (top right). From the drop-down menu click on lists. Click ‘create a list’ (on the right). If you are on your mobile click on the three dots, top right on your screen. Click view list. Click the blue button bottom right.
If you are on your laptop, click the small copy of your image profile (top right). From the drop-down menu click on ‘lists’. Click ‘create a list’ (on the right). If you are on your mobile click on the three dots (top right on your screen). Click ‘view list’. Click the blue button (bottom right). You can now add people to your list.
If you are on your mobile, go to your profile page and click on the three dots (top right on your screen). Click ‘view list’. Click the blue button (bottom right) to create your list. You can now add members by going to their profile page (click on their username or profile picture). Click on the three buttons (top right) and select ‘add to list’. Then select the list you want to add them to.
9. Share other people’s content
People tend not to like those who only talk about themselves. Share other people’s content that is similar to yours or that you find interesting but isn’t too off topic. Always include the content creator’s Twitter handle. Firstly, to give them the credit and secondly so that they know you have shared their content, as it will show up under their notifications. Hopefully, they’ll return the favour.
Be social! This is the one area I’m rather bad at and don’t do enough of. For example, I used to thank everyone who retweeted or shared one of my travel blog posts. So as not to clutter up my feed I do it in batches of as many people as I can fit into one tweet. I must admit, as my account has grown, I have got rather lazy over this. Note to self: Say thank you!
Don’t forget to check regularly what notifications you have by clicking on the bell symbol and respond to people as appropriate.
11. How often to tweet
You should try and tweet every day and check your notifications a few times a day. Ideally, you should be tweeting regularly throughout the day, but you don’t want to overdo it and become spammy as people will unfollow you. I found that the best time to tweet is in the evening between 6 and 9 o’clock so I try to schedule a few tweets each evening with a couple also going out at other times of the day.
Tip: Stuck for something to tweet? Check out these 158 adventure travel quotes.
12. Never send automated DMs.
Never send automated direct messages. People will unfollow you.
13. Use Grammarly to check your spelling
If like me, you are dyslexic or you are prone to making typos, add the Grammarly extension for Chrome on your PC or laptop. It will automatically highlight any errors. It certainly isn’t foolproof but it is a great help.
14. Join Twitter Chats
Twitter chats can be great fun and are a good way to connect with people with similar interests to you. Each chat uses a unique hashtag and at a set time, often weekly, questions will be posted on Twitter using that hashtag so people can easily find them and join in the conversation.
I usually have two windows open on my laptop when I join a Twitter chat, one with the hashtag’s feed (search within Twitter for the hashtag and click ‘Latest’) and one with my notifications feed so I can thank anyone who retweets me or asks questions in response to my previous answers.
One of my favourite travel Twitter chats is #TravChat, hosted by @30_summers and @GlobalBrunch and is held every Wednesday morning.
You can find out more about it on the founder’s blog, Thirty Summers, where you’ll also find the questions that are going to be asked during the forthcoming chat.
The biggest travel Twitter chat is #TTOT hosted by @TravelDudes and @RoniWeiss and held every Tuesday at 9:30 AM/PM GMT.
Pin for later!
DM or Direct Message: A private message or PM, sent between two Twitter users. The person you are messaging must follow you in order for you to do this.
Feed: A stream of tweets in chronological order, either from the accounts you follow or your own feed made up of your tweets.
Handle: Your Twitter username, such as @TravelWithKat.
Hashtag: Searchable keywords, such as #travel.
Mention: This is when someone mentions you in a tweet with your username preceded by the @ symbol.
Notifications: A feed showing who has followed you, tagged you, mentioned you, retweeted you or liked one of your tweets. Click on the bell symbol to see your notifications.
Retweet: Sharing someone else’s tweet on Twitter.
Tag: You can tag people on Twitter by including their username in a Tweet or tagging them in a photo by clicking the head and shoulder symbol below the photo and adding their username. Anyone you tag will be notified that you have tagged them and see the tweet (assuming they look at their notifications, of course).
Tweet: A post on Twitter. Each tweet can be a maximum of 140 characters long and can have images or a video attached.
Twitter Chats: Public community chats on Twitter about a specific topic.
Username: See handle.
You’ll find a more detailed glossary on Twitter’s Help Centre.
Disclosure: There are affiliates links in this blog post and as such, if you click on one of these links and then make a purchase, I may make a little money at no extra cost to you. This goes towards the cost of running this blog, for which I am very grateful. Thank you.
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What great information Kat, and even though I’m not a beginner, I certainly learned a few things. A very complete guide for anyone jumping into the world of Twitter.
That’s great to know you still found it useful! The whole blogging and social media world is a never-ending learning process I find but that’s part of the fun.
Lots of good information here (and a reminder to me to tweak my bio and my profile images occasionally!) – I really like Twitter to dip into and see what people are up to, though the only difficulty I find with upping interaction is making sure I’m online when my followers/the people I follow are, so automation can really help.
Scheduling tweets is a live saver. I’ll be publishing a post about how I do that tomorrow but I suspect you have that already taken care of.
I love using Twitter to engage with people and share ideas. It’s disillusioning to hear comments about the platform being on the decline. Do you think it is?
Not in my experience! Facebook, YouTube and Instagram may have more people using them but still leaves in the top four though and there is plenty of room for them all.
Loads of useful information here Kat, I use lists all the time and find it a valuable way to organise different groups of people I follow.
Thanks, Heather. They are a godsend. I do wish Instagram had them too!