Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Want to Tweet, but don't know where to start? I'm here to help.

You’ve heard about Twitter and are ready to get started how do you get going?

Pick a good name!
If you haven’t already picked a name, be yourself like @debbieLB or @mpaynknoper.  Or include a description of what you do: @JPlovesCOTTON or @iTweetMeat or @FarmerHaley. Shorter is better--will give you more letters to use in your tweets.

Participate in #agchat #foodchat #meatchat or other chats on twitter
Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 CT a bunch of us get together and discuss topics related to ag. Same time on Thursday the focus is meat. 

It’s a great way to find likeminded people and get some new strategies for being an #agvocate and spreading your story and the truth about agriculture. Then use a tool like twubs or tweetchat to follow the discussion. Much easier than just searching for the #. It’s OK to watch and not participate the first time, but I bet you’ll be itching to join in soon.

Don’t know who to follow. Check out @FollowFarmer
There are a lot of lists on Twitter, but if you want to find a bunch of farmers and ranchers go to @FollowFarmer. There are lists for ag media and producers. Both are a great place to start.  Also as you’re surfing the net, look for icons to follow on Twitter or Twitter names you can link to. Some 90% of Fortune 500 companies are involved in social media and many of your associations are too like the NCBA @BeefUSA or the National Corn Growers Assn. @NationalCorn. They usually make it easy to find them on twitter.

The # is your friend
Any word that has a # (hash tag) in front of it has that # so you can do a quick search on topics under that symbol. #farm #ag #oink #peta #hsus

Double check who you’re following. This tip isn’t just for newbies
Are you RT-ing someone often? Are you a follower, or are you seeing their tweets second hand. You need to check your followers periodically to make sure you are following people following you. Same on RT. You can’t DM someone who isn’t following you. 

Treat your message like a headline
Compelling headlines get attention. Same thing with a tweet. Be compelling or shocking or funny, but don‘t ever be boring.

Use Short URLs or die a slow painful death
If your web address or link is longer than 15 characters, you must shorten with a tool like or tinyurl.  If you start tweeting on your phone, there's a shortening tool there too. If you tweet a link that is too long, nobody will RT it.

RT others if you want them to RT you
RT=ReTweet. Do unto others is a key rule on Twitter. You can’t expect anyone to forward your message if you.   Look for the arrow buttons at the bottom of a message you want to RT. 

Leave room for a RT
You have 140 characters, but try to only use 120--or less so your message can be retweeted more often.

Thank You--always the magic word
RT-ing someone is akin to saying thank you. But saying it directly is priceless and will endear you to that person.

Build Relationships
Some of your followers will grow to be good friends even if you never meet in person. If you’re at an event hold a tweet up or tweet meet to find other attendees on twitter.

If you saw something smart, funny or started following someone your followers could benefit from list them in #FF (Follow Friday) post.  You can do it on another day if Friday isn't convenient.

Find the application for your smart phone or iPhone
You can send and receive tweets on your phone. Makes it easy to stay in touch all day and tweet on the run.  Couldn't live without UberTwitter on my blackberry

Check your @ messages and DM (direct messages) every day
Nuff said.
This isn't everything you need to know, but these are some thing that would have helped me in the beginning. Work these ideas and you'll be on your way to being a Twitter #agvocate in no time. 

And above all
Respect others opinions even though they may not respect yours.  You are out there to be an ambassador of the industry and whatever you tweet could be sent to hundreds of people. 
Simplify your life
After  you really get into this, you'll find you're spending a ton of time updating your FaceBook, Blog and Twitter.  Use tools like TweetDeck or Ping to update all your SM outlets at once.  One and done. 

If you found this helpful follow me at:
@agropinon where I tweet on ag issues
@jody_donohue where you get marketing and PR tips besides personal stuff about me

I follow all of the @s I've mentioned in this post.  I recommend you follow all of them and the many others who I RT or have listed. 

Other tools for newbies:
  • Ohio Farm Bureau's guide to Social Media
  • Blogs with Twitter advice including a 20 minute guide to getting started
  • Mashable's Twitter guidebook.  Mashable is a leading source on social media. 
  • Ragan communications has lots of great writing info and covers a Twitter often.  You'll need to subscribe to get to the good stuff.  Well worth being a member.  These are the sharpest communicators I know.
  • Ann Wiley is a writing goddess. Has the best tips on cutting words and being impactful I've ever seen.  She has a great newsletter too.
Always looking for other tools myself.  So send them my way or post in the comments.