*pats on head* so cute, with their little anxious yet eager faces. Will anyone talk to them? Will they make new friends? Will they make an ass of themselves?

Anyway some tips – you might want to do these step by step. I wrote them that way:

  1. What is Twitter: Twitter is a place for testimonials (status updates about themselves “I am shopping”). No response required.
  2. What is Twitter: Twitter is a place for distribution of information (links to others “here’s a cool blog post http://tinyurl.com”) – also automated bots e.g. @ABCNews
  3. What is Twitter: Twitter is the place for conversation (send replies to others “@silkcharm that was a wonderful tweet!) Heh.
  4. Fill in your profile. BEFORE you offer friendship. We judge whether to follow you back based on your location, your avatar, your bio, and the first few tweets you do. (more info on Twitter Reputation management)
  5. Add only a few people at first – add friends that will listen. How did you find out about Twitter? Add that person, then tell them (@silkcharm I read your blog post now I’m on Twitter! yay!) we’ll message you back and applaud your bravery. Well, I will anyway.
  6. Once you’ve messaged a few times – not ads, not links to your blog, read TwitterAgency as it has been set up to explain “How Not To Be Crap On Twitter”
    THEN start to add strangers –but please don’t DM (direct message) or open tweet them to say thanks if they add you back. That’s just downright creepy – we aren’t in a relationship yet, we are ‘just in a bar’ together.
  7. Search (click Find Friends at top of Twitter page) and put in your keywords. “Social Media” will return a tonne of ‘consultants’. “World of Warcraft” will give you a list of the coolest people on Twitter. Or at least, in my opinion. Add people that have your hobbies as well as your industry. That will keep you engaged and entertained. And we like people who are immersed better than observers.
  8. Bookmark Summize – or Search – once you’ve done a search on your Twitter name. It will show up everyone who is talking about you. For example: @silkcharm at the beginning of a sentence is a reply to me, but @silkcharm in the middle is usually about me. The bookmark lets you check in quickly and see who’s talking about you.
  9. Block with gay abandon. You really don’t want to ‘follow’ spammers. And watch for people who add you (so you add them) then drop you and then rinse repeat – tres annoying. But remember, some are newbies too, that accidentally spam (see BigPondTeam) and don’t mean to. They’ll get better. 🙂 In fact, BigPondTeam are now answering customer service questions in Twitter rather than spamming an email form. Much better. Don’t be too harsh on other newbies.
  10. Join in with discussions and so on, games (Sunday Twitter Karaoke is proving to be … excruciating), rituals like the US elections, events like earthquakes, and individual tweets.
  11. Link to your own blog posts about 1 in 4links. Yes Twitter is an awesome distribution mechanism once you have the numbers, but not if you turn into a spam-bot. The other 3 links (not yours) should be entertaining, informative or humorous.
  12. Humour. This one will trip the corporates every time. Link to risky sites, link to contentious sites such as http://www.iftheworldcouldvote.com/ – voting in the US elections for the rest of us. If you don’t have humour or an opinion, we won’t find you very interesting. You can only join the discussion if you have something to say – publishing press releases ain’t gonna cut it.
  13. Figure out who the Leaders are for your interests – if they respond to you a few times, others will see it and you’ll get some followers that add you. But see the point above – if you don’t have humour or something to say, they won’t get into conversation with you. Twinfluence will help you – from @RossDawson via @TrevorCook
  14. Ask questions – interesting ones – people on Twitter are social and like to help. Making statements sounds like pronouncements and are ignored. Even if you know the answer – or want a good ol’ argument – phrasing as a question lets you start a discussion.
  15. Let go. Once you get above a hundred or so (ok, ok, 150 if you follow the Dunbar number theory – see wikipedia) you can’t follow everything. Use the DMs and Replies and Summize and hash-tags.
  16. Hashtags are keywords that you place # in front of. For example when we discuss a conference we are at, we use #wds08 for webdirections 2008 conference. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the contractions, but it does make it easier to trace a keyword that everyone is using. Summize – or Search – makes the #hashtag a clickable (searchable) keyword)
  17. Accept that unlike blogs (content) and Facebook (distribution) networks, Twitter is a synchronous (real time) stream. If you go on holidays for a week, when you come back, the conversation has moved on. You’ve got little chance of having the people remember what you were all talking about. Step in, step out, at will. Or as your new Twitter addiction will allow. Heh.
  18. This is not the medium for personal committed conversations. Oh yes you will have them but remember people have real lives too. If they get up and take the dog for a walk, in the middle of a discussion, don’t take it personally. Don’t expect a reply to your comments and responses. Don’t demand personal attention on direct messages (DMs) – this is a group chat with strangers in a cafe or a bar, not a dinner party with intimates where you can ask for indepth answers. Though sometimes you will be suprised, you can’t expect it.
  19. Mobile doesn’t work well in Australia – but you can still SMS in your tweets. You just can’t get SMS back. Well there are some services – someone will mention them in the comments (I forget now). Also look at iPhone apps etc. But I wanted this to be about pure Twitter starter’s guide. Not all the resources applications and ecosystem websites and services.

Not sure what else to add, but as my toast (apricot raisin toast) is cooked, you’ll have to figure it out yourselves. Add stuff in comments or on your blog, let me know, and I’ll add/link here. I think the coffee is done too *waves* Oh, and hire people from the TwitterAgency – over 100 Twitter folk who give tips and hints on all things Twitter.