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How to Write on Twitter with Confidence

1. Get Started

Don’t spend too long agonising over it.

Get an account. Explain a little bit about yourself in your profile page. Include a photo or avatar that will help you to stand out in a busy Twitter stream.

Start sharing a few ‘tweets’ (140 character updates) about things you’re doing, noticing, reading, wondering, thinking about.

If you’ve got some of those basics underway you can then start looking for other people to connect with. They’re more likely to follow / connect back if they can quickly see a bit about who you are from your profile, photo, and tweets.

2. Look for Connections

Only Connect

Twitter is all about conversations and connections. It is most definitely *not* about one way broadcasting (unless you’re a mega celebrity). It’s not even like posting updates about what’s current on your Facebook page. What you’re really doing is throwing out hooks and lines that open up the possibility of making a connection and starting a conversation.

While you’re still learning that art (and it does take a little while) look out for ways to connect with other people on Twitter.

For starters, you’ll need to find a few people to connect with, to start talking to, and see how they manage conversations.

Here are two simple ways to find people you can connect with:

a) If you have blogs you enjoy reading, look on the blog page for their Twitter id (name). Then follow them on Twitter.

b) If you know at least one person who’s on Twitter, follow them. See who they talk to. If those people sound interesting, follow them too. Your network will soon expand naturally.

Oh and if you don’t know anyone on Twitter, make a start by following me @joannapaterson. I make a point of talking back to anyone who’s ‘real’…

3. Listen

Twitter is about conversations and connections. (Yes, I know I’m repeating myself. It’s important).

Just as you would in real life, that means you need to *listen* just as much if not more as you do talk (tweet). Pay attention to what others are saying (doing, thinking, reading). It’ll make it easier for you to spot connections.

Listening will help you tune into the language of Twitter so it starts to become easier and more natural to you. And it’ll help you stand out as someone who’s genuinely interested in and curious about the people round about them.

4. Be Human

Twitter works best when people are being real, genuine, human… That means throwing in some things about your real life - but it doesn’t have to get too personal. An easy way to do that is to talk about the weather (see below).

You want to write in a conversational, natural sounding style. And one simple way to demonstrate you’re human is by signalling that you’re listening too. Refer back to what others have said. Reply to interesting ideas. Retweet (pass on) some of the gems you find along the way.

5. Be Friendly

Friendly folk stand out on Twitter. Reply to those who talk to you. Listen, notice and pay attention to what others are saying. Smile as you’re writing / tweeting… it’ll help your words to come out in a warm and friendly way.

Make liberal use of emoticons and exclamation marks - forget all previous inhibitions on that score!

6. Be Playful

Twitter is all about conversations and connections. (Yep, saying it once, twice, three times…)

It can lead to all kinds of work and business opportunities, and all kinds of new ideas and possibilities. It’s good to be clear in your mind that you’re investing the time to allow for those possibilities to emerge. But when you’re actively engaged in tweeting, it’s best not to take it *too* seriously.

The magical moments happen when you relax a bit, tweet fast, let your hair down a bit, throw in some humour, notice something funny that a friend has said, say something a bit ‘off’ your normal style.

I know it’s easier said than done while you’re still finding your feet… but it is one of the biggest benefits of sticking with Twitter and getting the hang of it in the longer term.

One big caveat: remember Twitter can be read by the whole world, not just those who are following you. (Unless you have protected your tweets, in which case you’re playing a whole different ball game).

Think in advance about how much you want to reveal about your personal life, your business life, your clients, the bad mood you’re in. Make sure you have your own editorial filters in place before you start tweeting. (Including working out whether you think it’s safe to drink and tweet…)

7. Be Short, but Not Too Short

Brevity is one of the most wonderful aspects of Twitter. You can only write in 140 characters at a time. That forces you into a new form of compressed style, working out how to express yourself briefly. It’ll start to become more natural after a while and you’ll soon find you’re doing it without having to spend too long editing your words down.

It’s a great way to practice and refine brevity in other areas of your writing too :-)

One word of caution though - don’t make all your tweets really, really short - they’re hard for followers to make sense of, and if someone’s taking a quick look at your twitter stream to see if you’re ‘interesting’ it might put them off if there’s no natural flow to your words.

8. Talk About the Weather

Okay, so this is my number one Twitter tactic and most famous Tweet writing tip.

When in doubt about how to get started, talk about the weather.

It’s a simple and effective way to achieve the other things I’ve been talking about.

It shows you’re human, real, friendly. If you listen to what others say about the weather, you can jump in with a response about the weather in your neck of the woods. It makes it easy for other people to write back to you, because there are no barriers to talking about the weather.

It’s an easy way for other people to learn a bit more about where you live (and what the weather’s like), and for you to get to know what everyday life is like for people all over the world.

9. Promote Other People

An easy way to show you’re friendly, human and interested in making connections is to promote other people.

Share links to things you’ve been reading (much more effective than only linking to your own work). Highlight interesting people that you follow, and tell us what makes them so. Pass on (retweet) the interesting tweets of other people in your twitter stream.

Promoting other people will also help your Twitter words to flow - you’re less likely to freeze or feel self-conscious if you’re focusing on what other people are up to rather than trying to make your own life or inner world sound interesting ;-)

10. Stick With It

Twitter isn’t something you’re likely to ‘get’ straight away. It takes time to get into the flow of it.

It takes time to realise that you don’t have to follow every word that other people have written - indeed that it would be impossible so to do. That’s it’s okay to jump in, say hello and join a conversation - indeed that your friendliness will be welcomed if you do.

That Twitter isn’t a wall for writing on, but a space like a cafe, or a bar, or the water cooler at work, where you can take some time out, chat over a cup of tea, shoot the breeze for a while… and get to know people, deeply, through seemingly casual conversations, that develop over time.

~~~

Further Reading: excerpts from 4 key posts on Tweet writing

Why I Talk About the Weather on Twitter

It’s the simplest way I know to signal that to join the conversation:

  • You don’t need to be an expert in writing style and grammar points
  • You don’t need to be au fait in social media trends
  • You don’t need to be able to type fast, or talk in txt spk
  • You don’t need to be ’someone’

You just need to be willing to talk about the weather.

Why It’s Worth Sticking with Twitter:

We get to know how people think, and worry, and celebrate, and learn. We learn about senses of humour, and the way a mind works. We learn recipes, and things people enjoy eating, and what the weather is like on the other side of the world. We learn about things that are different, and things that bind us together, across the oceans.

We learn how to make the world smaller, and more human again.

How Twitter Can Help You to Write with Confidence

It will soften your writing style

The conversational, rapid nature of the medium will help to soften your writing style. While this won’t help you with every writing project it is helpful when you’re writing on the web

21 Irresistibly Irresponsible Ways to Tweet with Greater Confidence

Don’t follow my rules – or anyone els’es. But you might want to set some of your own. (Mine are: Don’t talk about clients in an identifiable way. Ever. Don’t drink and tweet. Don’t DM anything I couldn’t cope with others reading if something scary happened to the system. Don’t be unkind.)

Don’t worry about how to Tweet. There is no right way. Only your way.

~~~

For more, please do dip into the tweet writing archive.

For twitter writing practice, please do say hi to me on Twitter! @joannapaterson

This article is also available as a pdf download: 10 Ways to Write on Twitter with Confidence

Creative Commons License
Tweet Writing with Confidence by Joanna Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 UK: Scotland License.

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Comments

  1. Stan Young
    Twitter: stanmyoung
    says:

    This is a really great post! I have been looking for answers to the basic question of how twitter works.
    This answers all my questions and gives me a better understanding on how to get started communicating on twitter.
    Many Thanks for your help Stan

  2. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    @Stan Young: Hi Stan, so glad you found this introduction helpful. If you’re on Twitter don’t forget to say hello.

  3. Tweets that mention How to Write on Twitter with Confidence | Confident Writing -- Topsy.com says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jane Penson, Stan Young. Stan Young said: RT @joannapaterson How to Write on Twitter with Confidence http://bit.ly/eKi9bU [...]

  4. Craig says:

    Great advice. It really boils down to just being helpful and friendly. I think the web-based nature of social apps make it easy to forget that there is another person on the other end of the conversation. Twitter isn’t just broadcasting a message into space; it is a two-way medium.

    Thanks!

  5. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    @Craig: Craig, absolutely. Being helpful and friendly is the key :-)