How to Start On Twitter Without Looking Like a Newbie

by Marian Schembari on February 9, 2011


Because Marian Librarian and This New Town are so different,  I knew I’d have to do what I’ve never done before – create a separate Twitter account.

Now, I am so freaking against multiple accounts it’s not even funny (almost as much as I’m against multiple blogs), but you gotta do what you gotta do. No way I was going to start tweeting incessantly about Auckland to people who may never visit New Zealand. While I’m all for being personal and open, there are just some things your followers could care less about.

So I started a second account. *Shudder*

As I’ve bitched about on multiple occasions, before you do ANYTHING you absolutely have to complete your profile. This means location, bio, image and a personalized background.

Because I’ve already used the handle, @MarianSchembari and I want the site to be branded as it’s own entity I chose @ThisNewTown, makin’ it easy to remember and spell (not like my ridiculous last name).

It took me ages to perfect my bio, and I’m still doing little tweaks here and there.

While I usually hate when people mention their million different handles, I eventually decided it was in my business’s best interest to mention my larger, more extensive, account. This is because I found myself following a lot of Kiwis who are in the marketing/social media sphere and I wanted them to know that I don’t just tweet about Auckland, I’m actually a consultant too (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). So I deleted a sentence about also being a local blog for travelers and included a link to my more active profile.

It’s good to be consistent when it comes to images, but I wanted the photo for this profile to be less stuffy, more casual. Plus, I just like this picture better than the one I currently use.

The Background

For branding and visual purposes, it’s even more important to have a personalized Twitter background. If you use the generic blue, I automatically think you don’t take Twitter seriously.

So one of the first things I did was personalized my background.

Now, I’m in NO WAY a designer and I’m not going to pretend this is the greatest background in the history of Twitter. However, if you go to This New Town, you’ll see the colors and design match the site and I think being a little matchy-matchy is important for branding.

What I did was simple. I have an account with Picnik (it’s like $24 per year) and you can make these pretty sweet collages that are perfect for blogging, backgrounds, etc. I found a handful of Kiwi-centric photos (Auckland skyline, sheep, a flat white and the beach), used them as the header on the blog and took my favorites and “collaged” them as the background for @ThisNewTown. Easy peasy.

I resized the whole image to 1024 x 536, inserted some vertical text and uploaded it to Twitter. I changed the coloring of the sidebar and links to match the outfit in my avatar so all the colors work well together. All in all this took about 15 minutes and I know my whole profile looks better for it.

Tweeting to Myself

Then it came time to actually tweet. For about a week I tweeted to no one but myself. I tweeted about my day, things I found online and the blog in general.

I had no followers. No lurkers. Just general nonsense I was putting out there, all so my profile would look active and appealing when the time came to actually announce my presence.

Launching the Blog

When launch time came, I announced here and on Twitter that @ThisNewTown was in existence. It sounds a little lame and even more shallow, but I didn’t want to start following hundreds of people and have my numbers be all out of whack. You can admit it or not, but the truth is that numbers matter. At least in terms of appearance.

You don’t need thousands (or even hundreds) of followers for Twitter to be useful and fan, but it reeks of desperation when you’re following hundreds but no one’s following you back. Not only that, but it’s obvious you’re just in it for the numbers if you can’t be bothered to pay attention to the folks you have. It’s always more, more, more.

Personally, I find it difficult to keep up with so many people at one time. I grow my followers/followees gradually.

My trick is to follow around 10 new people per day and talk to as many of them as I can. I retweet something they wrote, ask a question, respond to a comment… Essentially, I make friends, I don’t just follow blindly.

If anything, I hope that’s what you take from this post: In order to gain as much as possible from Twitter and create a meaningful network you should probably take it slow. I’ll never going to get up to the numbers I have on @MarianSchembari. With the time I’m putting into this account (and the small number of people in New Zealand) it’s just not possible. But I HAVE already made a few friends through it and met three of them in person.

So far, so good. Will keep you posted on the progress.

How did you first get started with Twitter? This may be a new account but I’ve done it before and it was MUCH easier this time around. Did you find it difficult? Overwhelming? Tell us in the comments!

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