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Did you get lost in the leap to Twitter hyperspace?

Written by Jill Manty  · December 5, 2010

Sometimes I picture Twitter like making the jump to hyperspace on the Millenium Falcon. Except instead of stars flashing past, it’s tweets. I think this is one of the big reasons that people burn out quickly on Twitter. It’s not much fun if you can’t figure out a way to be a part of “the conversation”.

So, how can you fix that? How do you get connected? If you were in New York City and didn’t know a soul there, how would you make friends? Would you stand on a busy corner and start shouting information about yourself? “Hello, I’m Jill Manty! I have kids! I homeschool! I like social media! I write a blog! Anyone want to talk?” That may be an excellent way to see the inside of some of New York City’s finer correctional/psychiatric facilities, but you’re probably not going to make any friends that way (and if you do, they may not be the kind of friends you were really looking for).

Here are a few suggestions for finding your place on Twitter.

Tweet chats If you just stepped off the bus into Twitterland, and you aren’t following a soul, check out a few Twitter chats. You’ll find people who have similar interests and can most likely find a few people to follow and start conversing with. Make sure you follow anyone you interacted with after the chat is over and thank anyone who retweeted a comment or link that you posted. Include anyone you thank via the @ symbol when you post your thanks. For example, “Thanks for the RT: @georgemanty”

Some Twitter chats do fly by fast and furious, so consider using a program like Tweetchat. I suggest slowing the refresh speed to 10-15 seconds, especially for particularly busy chats. If you’re feeling like a particular chat is like trying to swallow the ocean, find one or two people who are posting things that you find interesting or entertaining and start up a side conversation (try to keep it on topic, though, unless you’re going to drop the chat hashtag- #).

How do you find a chat that interests you? Someone has created a Google spreadsheet of Twitter chats, and it’s kept pretty up to date. My personal suggestions? #tweetdiner, #blogchat, #leadershipchat and #usguys. But find one that works for you. There are chats on diverse topics from horses to food.

Lists Once you’ve found some people to follow, consider creating a list, so that you can more easily keep up with people. Personally, I still haven’t created my lists, so I’m not going to be able to give you a lot of firsthand advice. But there are lots of resources on the web about creating lists. For the basics, check out Twitter’s own help on the subject. For more on the topic, check out this resource. (I got that resource after asking a question on #usguys- see what a great resource Twitter can be? Thanks to Brandon Sheley for the link!)

You can also use other people’s lists as an additional way to find people to follow. Sometimes people will create blog posts about their own lists of people, like this one on New York’s Top PR Public Relations Firms and People. Or you can follow lists that people you follow on Twitter have created.

Hashtags People will hashtag all sorts of things that other people might be interested in. You can view the most popular ones at You can then choose to look at who’s using hashtags you’re interested in or just start using some of the ones that are popular that interest you. Over the past week, popular hashtags have included the always popular #facebook and #socialmedia, but also #iphone, #travel and #wikileaks.

Really, there’s just one hashtag I recommend using on a regular basis, outside of Twitter chats: #usguys. While there is an usguys chat, the usguys hashtag is 24/7 discussion on marketing, social media, leadership and pretty much anything under the sun. This morning there was talk about everything from the meaning of “lost his squash” to whether it’s appropriate to use “dude” for women. I set it up regularly in tweetchat or hootsuite to stop in and check out what’s going on throughout the day. It’s much more than a hashtag- it’s a virtual tribe of people who will help and support you.

Want to see what a big deal a hashtag can be? Using usguys as the example, people have created blog posts specifically around usguys, as well as a virtual usguys daily newspaper. Usguys helped get a blog off to a phenomenal start. I think you can see how being involved with a group like that would make Twitter a much more welcoming place.

I hope this helps you figure out how to get involved on Twitter. If you’re already involved, what are your suggestions for people who are new or frustrated with Twitter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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10 Responses to “Did you get lost in the leap to Twitter hyperspace?”

  1. Michele Price on December 5th, 2010 11:40 am

    Yes, I love twitter chats been at it for about a year and a half. My first and favorite still is #Blogchat by @mackcollier. It goes really fast and some find that intimidating. I just tell them read and learn. Think of it as the Matrix downloading learning they had in the movie. The more you do it the better you get, then before you know it you jump in the conversation.

    I came up with #SMmaners this year when thinking about writing a book with a colleague on twitter, which started to morph into manners then we discovered there was enough for us to publish our own books separately.

    Funny thing when you create a community they become creators in the process with you. Our twitter chat was originally called #SocialMediaManners, then several folks said “that uses a lot of characters let’s shorten it-they came up with #SMManners and we moved forward.

    So ask yourself what do you want to learn? Then find a chat that feeds your needs.

    Oh, and remember to connect offline too, Jill and I met this past Friday (lucky enough to be in same city hooyah!)

  2. Jill Manty on December 5th, 2010 11:48 am

    Yes, meant to include #smmanners- an excellent resource and very nice people, including Michele šŸ™‚

  3. Jeannette Baer on December 5th, 2010 12:29 pm

    Jill, Great post! This post could serve as guidelines to people that are new to Twitter and/or social media. The formula is the same regardless of the platform they have chosen to be active on.

    You hit it on the nail, when you said “Would you stand on a busy corner and start shouting information about yourself? “Hello, I’m Jill Manty! I have kids! I homeschool! I like social media! I write a blog! Anyone want to talk?” you’re probably not going to make any friends” ...people forget that the IRL guidelines applies in social media; “everything does not revolve around just you” it is important that you promote other people, that you RT their thoughts and ideas, that you share, and truly engage with others.

    If you follow that, you will find not only a great “follower base” but you will realized that you have learned along the way to truly “build relationships”

  4. Jill Manty on December 5th, 2010 5:02 pm

    Thanks, Jeannette! I agree it’s important to remember that the social rules in “real” life apply on the internet as well. The person on the other end of the monitor is still a real person, after all!

  5. Anthony D Smith on December 5th, 2010 9:25 pm

    Pretty good tips. I’m on a few Twitter lists myself and follow anyone who follows me as a courtesy. Just by posting relevant content and linking to some good conversations myself I have built up pretty nice niche following. Now I accept ad revenue from my account by placing sponsored tweets on top of the seo advantages that Twitter can give you šŸ™‚

  6. Jill Manty on December 6th, 2010 5:51 am

    Hi Anthony- thanks for stopping by. So, tell me about a really good relationship you’ve formed through Twitter.

  7. Chase Adams on December 6th, 2010 1:30 pm

    Jill, so great to see you taking the #UsGuys philosophy beyond 140 characters!

    I love all the hashchats you mentioned. I’ve met so many wonderful people in them and had an opportunity to connect more deeply. #tweetdiner is my number 1 recommendation for anyone wanting to dive into SM for what it’s really about. Margie Clayman, Jeannette Baer and Stanford Smith have done a spectacular job at making it a lot like a virtual ‘kitchen’ where you would sit and learn to meet new people in this new communication.

    And #UsGuys? Oh boy, don’t get me started. What a rag-tag bunch of professionals from EVERY industry & background you could imagine! I think the beauty for me has been that I have found friends beyond twitter, like yourself, that I’ve connected with on LinkedIn, Facebook, email, skype & In real life. I mean, who does that?!

    So many people see twitter as a way to ‘safely’ engage in conversation about weather, the kind of thing you’d do as a traveling salesman. But #UsGuys, for me at least, has been a way to engage head-on with people I would never have met without twitter being a springboard, and collaborate for greater things.

    It’s the 5th stage of Twitter. Absolute Submersion.

  8. Jill Manty on December 7th, 2010 8:13 pm

    Hi Chase. Thanks for stopping by.

    What tips do you have for people who are new to Twitter and might be afraid to jump in. Not everyone is completely comfortable starting conversations with complete strangers šŸ™‚

  9. Farouk on December 20th, 2010 8:05 am

    thanks for the post
    up until today i can’t make any use of twitter

  10. Kelly on March 15th, 2011 5:39 am

    Twitter is actually a huge time saver for me – I follow people I have a lot of respect for (like Seth Godin) and people talking about things I’m interested in (like Mashable).

    Then Twitter becomes a one-stop-shop for info. I don’t need to visit a bunch of different website, just Twitter, and then click on the links for things interesting to me. I get all my news, stay up to date on trends, and get a little entertainment without much time commitment.