Twitter: It's Not Just for Pictures of Food

Samantha Tackeff is a digital strategist and a student in the Technical Marketing Track at the Startup Institute Boston. She is a voracious reader, CrossFitter, culinary adventurer, and early adopter. She’s been on Twitter since the wild days of 2007, and loves it with fiery passion.

This semester at the Startup Institute we’ve been having some higher level conversations about social media strategy – thinking about execution, analytics integration, best practices for both growing startups and enterprise – but in my experience some of the best (and most authentic, and most engaging) social media content comes from people who love using the service. Whether or not you are heading into a role in marketing, everyone in startups can use Twitter to their advantage.

So, Twitter newbies – let’s have a chat. Maybe you are tentative about Twitter. Ambivalent. You’ve signed up, Tweeted a few times, but still don’t get it. Maybe you are wondering “Do I have to use this?”

My answer? Yes, you should use it. But I don’t want you to suffer – Twitter should never feel like a chore! By integrating Twitter more seamlessly into your daily life, you’ll enjoy it more, get more out of it, and enrich the Twitter ecosystem. We want your voice to join the flock! (Twitter is not paying me to say that.)
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Before we get started, let’s just go over the cardinal rule of Twitter:Be a Real Human Being”. Whether you are using Twitter for personal use or professional, this is the most important thing you should stick to.
Twitter is more than just broadcasting your every breakfast, lunch, and snack:
Here are a few ways to use Twitter in your everyday activities:
Use Twitter as part of your meeting/interview prep: Have an upcoming meeting or interview? Scan a couple dozen Tweets of the person you are meeting with. Check out who they interact with and who they are following. This can be a great way to find common ground and interests, beyond looking someone up on LinkedIn. Consider following up after your meeting – literally – by following them on Twitter and thanking them.
Use Twitter as a research tool: Rather than a defaulting to Google, using Twitter’s search capability can be a good way to find real-time information about any topic, and who the top influencers in the field are.
Use Twitter to make friends before you head to an event: for the naturally less social, Twitter is a great way to find some event-buddies. Even the most confident, self-assured and social people like having event-buddies. Find and follow folks you are interested in meeting with and reach out to start the conversation before you find yourself alone at the drinks table.
Use Twitter as your Primary News Source: Twitter is a great way to save time while staying updated with the world. Following a few good news sources such as @cnnbrk, @nytimes, or @techcrunch can keep you up to date with the headlines. Following fake new sources such as @TheOnion can be just as informative.
Automating: There are several free ways to automate your tweeting, such as products like HootSuite and Buffer. These allow you to craft tweets in advance. If you choose to use these, use them wisely – remember to follow the code of “Be a Real Human Being”. Real human beings have conversations, and don’t blindly broadcast. Sure, there are real human beings who do just talk and never listen, but we don’t like those people.Use Twitter to maintain your sanity: Perhaps my favorite use of the service. Working in a startup requires hard work, flexibility, resiliency, and a positive attitude. If you are having a stressful moment, Twitter is full of witty people. Reading the streams of the ever excellent @robdelaney, quirky spambot @Horse_ebooks, or the current fad favorite @seinfeldtoday are easy ways to cheer yourself up.

If you have questions, ask me here – or better yet, Tweet to me @alphaprep