twitter-evolveTwitter. It’s everywhere… on the news, in commercials, on TV shows, in print advertisements and there’s no escaping it ANYWHERE you go online these days. But what IS it really? Why do it? Do we really need another social network if we’re already on Facebook or LinkedIn?

Back in the day (2008), I created my Twitter account just to poke around and see what it was all about. I looked around, posted a tweet or two, scratched my head and then let my account gather dust for a couple of years.I just didn’t get it. I just didn’t care. It must be for OTHER people. Which other people? I didn’t know…

Eventually, I came to the realization that this Twitter thing wasn’t going away. On the contrary, it was growing like crazy and had even surpassed my beloved LinkedIn!  (As of today, there are more than 650 million Twitter accounts v. 260 million on LinkedIn and there are one million new accounts added daily… that’s 11 new accounts created every SECOND!)

I realized that there much be some real benefits to the service and I decided to give it another whirl, this time with my business / recruiting hat on, not just as a casual user. That made all the difference! I’ve not only met business partners, clients, candidates for hire, leaders in my industry (who now converse back and forth with me on a regular basis – priceless!), event organizers for speaking engagements, jobseekers that I can help (yes!!) thought Twitter… I’ve even met met real-life friends (who knew?).

The relationships which started online have now turned into real-life contacts that I interact with on LinkedIn / Facebook / Google+, via telephone / email and, yes, even face-to-face! It’s been an invaluable tool for meeting new people and I’m so glad I gave it another shot!

Like most people, I still found Twitter to be pretty confusing at first, but I decided to tackle the learning curve by jumping in with two feet and simply copycatting what I saw out there (often times incorrectly). I received a few corrections / reminders along the way, but folks were always pretty positive about it, even when my mistakes accidentally took credit for stuff that other people had said! Oops… I always *did* learn stuff the hard way!

12 Things I Wish I Knew About Twitter When I First Joined

If I knew then what I know now, this is what I would have done differently along the way. Here’s my advice for all of the Twitter Newbies out there… and a few helpful reminders for us Twitter veterans as well:

1. Take a peek at the ever-helpful Twitter Glossary.
What’s a DM? An RT? A hashtag? What are all of those pound signs in front of words? Why is everyone talking about #FF and what is it anyway? What’s a Twitter handle? The glossary clearly defines the basics of the Twitter vernacular and will help make the Twitter learning curve much less daunting.

2. Complete your entire profile – bio, avatar, location, etc. – ASAP.
No one wants to follow someone with an egg as their profile pic and no info in their bio. Why should they follow you if you don’t even clue them in to what it is that you plan to tweet about? It also makes you look like a spammer or Twitter “bot” (spam account). Complete your entire bio (it’s not perfect, but here’s mine) and tweak it as you develop your Twitter voice.

Tell people what you’re all about and give them a reason to follow you. (Remember, if you have no followers, then you’re talking to yourself in an empty room… there’s no one there to hear you!) Completing your bio tells folks that you’re ready to roll.

3. Tweet consistently.
Now that you’ve completed your profile, folks will just follow you in droves, right? Not so fast… You may gain followers, but if you don’t tweet fairly consistently, you will most certainly lose them. You should tweet at least a few times every week, preferably a few times a day. You can do this in less than 5 minutes a day to start.

Find stuff to share – a cool online article that you read over your morning coffee, retweet an interesting post that someone else shared (giving them credit, of course), answer someone’s question, ask a question yourself, jump into a conversation, share a personal anecdote or favorite quote…. The possibilities are endless. A complete bio with zero tweets (or no tweets in the last few weeks) is just as ineffective as having an egg for your profile pic.

4. Twitter isn’t Facebook or LinkedIn. People WILL unfollow you so don’t take it personally! 🙂
This is a classic newbie reaction… Oh my gosh, you mean people UNFRIENDED me? Yes, I lose about 50 followers a day! haha But usually I gain 75-100 new ones. There’s a constant flux of folks coming and going, hearing what you have to say, dropping off for whatever reason. It’s just the nature of Twitter. Why?

Maybe you don’t tweet enough, maybe you tweet too much, maybe you talk about business and they only want personal, maybe it’s the opposite, maybe they only want to follow local contacts, maybe you didn’t follow them back quickly enough, maybe they just don’t like the color of your hair… Who knows! 🙂 People are going to come and go, so don’t be shocked, rack your brain trying to figure out why or take it personally, it’s just the way it is!

5. Subscribe to some cool blogs, feeds, etc. that are relevant and interesting to you.
MashableTechCrunchThe LinkedIn Blog (duh!), CareerBuilder’s The Work Buzz, etc. are some of my faves because I tweet about technology, social networking, recruiting, careers, etc. Find the ones that speak to you and reflect who you are in the Twitter world and share some of the posts / articles that you find most interesting.

It will give you a fantastic springboard for developing some consistency in the content and frequency of your tweets. (Here’s a GREAT article on finding great stuff to share on Twitter. Tells you what some of the Twitter superstars recommend and where they find their content to share.)

6. Create more original content and don’t just retweet all the time.
In the beginning, I just retweeted other people’s stuff that I found interesting. This is still a pretty good strategy for beginners who are getting into the swing of things, but creating a little original content and sharing your own ideas once in a while is the best way to create your own voice and develop a targeted and loyal following.

Share your thoughts. Give pointers. Talk about something that inspires you, gets your blood boiling, confuses you, etc. Whatever it is! Just be original once in a while. (Thank you Simon Meth (aka @SDCorpRecruiter) for the great call-out on this one!). Most people do it the other way around, but I ended up creating this blog after joining Twitter, just to inspire me to create my own content a little more. It’s turned out to be a really fun experience (and a great branding / networking / business boosting tool to boot)!  Thank you, Twitter!

7. Read the article / blog post (the whole thing) BEFORE retweeting the link. 
Okay, we’ve all done this… admit it! The title looks interesting and relevant so you go ahead and retweet it, fully intending to go in and read the article at some point (you swear!). Unfortunately, the content isn’t exactly what you thought it would be and you end up sharing something that does NOT reflect your thoughts or who you are. Oops!

I did this in the beginning and got called out for it. Another time, I read most of the article and had to run off to a meeting, so just tweeted it out before finishing. The last paragraph contained some pretty controversial thoughts and, had I read it through, I probably wouldn’t have retweeted it. Or, at the very least, would have put a disclaimer comment in there or something. Oops! Another example of learning things the hard way… haha.

8. You don’t have to follow everyone back. 
I used to think I was being rude unless I followed back every single person. Not only did this create a lot of extra stuff to wade through in my Twitter feed (spam, posts in foreign languages, deals on car washes in Skokie, Illinois – haha), but it also made it a lot harder to build relationships and engage with folks who had similar interests as me.

I often think of it this way… would this person ever have a reason to retweet my content (or vice versa)? If not, then we probably don’t have enough in common. Just my two cents…

9. Engage, engage, engage. 
Don’t just tweet and retweet. Respond to folks, start up a conversation, thank them for retweeting you, share your opinion on stuff that they post (respectfully, of course), get the dialogue going! Social media should be just that – social. When you engage with folks and begin conversations, you will make Twitter friends and enjoy the experience so much more. (Maybe I should make this one #1 on the list. It is probably THE most important one, in my opinion…)

10. Make lists to organize your friends and followers.
It’s a great way to recognize folks (everyone loves to be listed) and it shows that you understand them and appreciate the content of their posts. I have lists of techies, social media aficionados, recruiters/career advice folks, San Diego tweeps, etc. Those folks will often “list you back” and you’ll get more followers who have similar interests as you. Again, this drives meaningful conversations (in 140 characters or less, of course!) and creates a much more interactive and fun Twitter experience. There are sites like Listorious and ifttt to make this process much simpler and even automated, if that’s your preference.

11. Don’t be a one-note / spammer / advertiser / job blaster.
When I was brand new, I just used Twitter to share open jobs at my company via my LinkedIn status update (checking the little blue bird Twitter icon). I was a job blaster only and I had very few followers. Who can blame them? Who wants to justread about open jobs? Boring. Shake it up a bit! If you are a recruiter, there’s a lot more that you can talk about – the job market, the economy, the latest and greatest at your company, interview / resume / networking / jobsearch tips, career advice, tech, social media, etc… topics that are relevant to your target audience of candidates. You should also feel free to sprinkle in other things that show who you are as a person – your hobbies, your interests, your passions, etc. You’ll expand your Twitter audience and meet lots of cool people who share these interests with you!

12. Say thank you. A lot. 
Twitter is a pretty upbeat, positive place. People are quick to show their appreciation and gratitude toward others, unlike anything I’ve seen in other forums, social or otherwise (even real life)! There’s a lot of gratitude being expressed and if you show your appreciation for others, you will quickly feel it back and see what I’m talking about… Thank others for retweeting you, listing you, adding you to their #FollowFriday tweets, etc. They will love you for it and you’ll find the Twitter experience that much more fulfilling.

Trust me on this. 🙂

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StacyZaparHeadshot-SmallAbout the Author: Stacy Donovan Zapar is a 15-year recruiting veteran for Fortune 500 tech companies and CEO of Tenfold Social Training, a B2B Social Recruiting training company for talent acquisition and staffing teams around the world. She is also the Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn with more than 40,000 1st-level connections, making her the #5 most connected person out of 259 million users worldwide. She is a monthly contributor to LinkedIn’s Talent Blog and served as Technical Editor for Wiley’s LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day.
Stacy speaks regularly at HR / Recruiting conferences globally, including #truLondonLinkedIn Talent Connect and Sourcing Summit Australia. She is #6 on Huffington Post’s Top 100 Most Social HR Experts on Twitter and #7 on’s 50 People Most Retweeted by Recruiters on Twitter. Feel free to connect with Stacy on LinkedIn and Twitter (@StacyZapar).