What is Twitter? It's a social network that lets you find out what's going on in your area and around the world in topics that you care about. It's based on short messages called "tweets" that are currently limited to 140 characters. The tweets are presented in reverse chronological order, for the most part. Below is a snapshot of my Twitter home page. It contains your primary timeline with tweets from all the people you follow, basic analytics, popular hashtags, and more!
With the "what" covered, let's discuss the "why". Why should you as a developer care about your presence on Twitter? In a word: networking. To expand on that, I'd say that Twitter is the best way to meet people who are interested in and actively involved in the tech community. I personally have established virtual relationships with hundreds of people in the Android community. This has enabled me to get answers to my development questions, receive encouragement to tackle new coding challenges, as well as expand my career. It's also a way that I can give back to the community by doing the same for others.
So maybe you want to see some more tangible benefits. Here's a listing of several opportunities I've directly had through interactions on Twitter:
- Invited to connect with O'Reilly for a video course deal
- Invited to speak at conferences
- Invited to speak at meetups
- Invited to do podcast interviews
- Invited to write a guest blog post
And there are probably more things that I just can't recall at the moment. So yes, very useful for expanding your career!
#HashtagsSo one of the major things that you need to understand about Twitter is its use of hashtags. Hashtags are essentially just a way to label tweets. With all of the content that is produced on Twitter every second it would be impossible to find what you're interested in without them.
You can use hashtags in various ways:
- To search for additional tweets
- Find new accounts to follow
- Participate in Twitter chats
- Follow along with live events
Once you start following a couple hundred people you will notice that your homepage is just a random mix of information. So in order to read specific tweets on a given subject I tend to create Twitter lists for myself to help with organizing the content. Below is a screenshot of some of the Twitter lists that I belong to.
Creating a Twitter list is very simple (see gif below). You have the option to make your list public or private. If your list is public then others can see your list and follow it if they desire, also when you add people they will be notified that you have added them. However, if you create a private list then it's just for you.
|Adding Someone to Your List|
Ok, so up until this point, you're mostly just consuming content. Now let's discuss how you can evolve your interactions on Twitter by establishing "relationships" with others. No one wants to be seen as a walking billboard, just constantly spewing information. By interacting with the people on your list, by doing things like favoriting tweets or retweeting, you get the attention of those in your "Twitterverse". Over time they will begin to recognize you and may return a similar level of interaction with your tweets. So like many things in life, it just takes time and don't get discouraged if you don't start to see immediate results from your efforts on Twitter.
Crafting Your Tweets
Another thing people often lament to me is that they don't know what to tweet about. There are so many great things to tweet about! If you do anything related to your industry, like attend conferences, read articles or create your own content, you can find something tweet-worthy.
Once you start tweeting regularly and building up a following, you may want to begin to automate some of your efforts on Twitter. I prefer to segment chunks of my day to optimize my overall output, so it's easier for me to curate my tweets in advance. For this I use Buffer, a tool that let's you schedule tweets. They have very useful tutorials and helpful staff if you run into issues.
Be nice! The Internet is full of trolls and just extremely negative people, so why contribute to that? Instead you can use your newfound Twitter prowess to spread positivity in the tech community. I can't wait to read your tweets!
Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter where I'll share my top 3 tweet templates. Until next time...