For the longest time I was against the idea of social media. Why? I believed being present on certain platforms would take away from my mantra of living in the moment. It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year of college that I finally got myself a Facebook account. The rationale behind that decision was that more of my classes were beginning to use Facebook as a tool for class participation. In addition, I had countless friends tell me I needed Facebook in my life.
Then this past summer I began to wonder what Twitter would be like. Not only were my friends beginning to pick on me for not having an account, but I also began to hear about the importance of a Twitter account from a PR side. For example, my internships were always very surprised to learn that as an up-and-coming PR professional, I limited myself to only one social media platform. They advised me that in order to stay informed on news and the PR industry, I should get myself a Twitter account.
So this past August I finally took the plunge. Now it’s been about two months since I’ve initially engaged with this platform and therefore I’d like to provide some insight as to what I’ve learned.
One hundred forty characters is not much to work with.
I’d always heard that getting your message across within one tweet on Twitter could be difficult, but now I truly understand what that means. I can’t count how many times I’ve composed a tweet only to realize I’m 20 characters over my limit. With that being said, Twitter has taught me how to be a more concise and effective writer. Now when I want to share my thoughts on a subject, I am forced to craft my message strategically, using hashtags and symbols in place of words. Although it may take me five or more minutes to create a tweet, the end result is something I can say I’m proud of!
I know nothing.
It seems that every time I scroll through my Twitter feed, I learn 10 new things. Whether it’s an inspiring story, a motivational quote, a new product or a fun fact, I am constantly learning on this platform. It’s actually been proven that more than half of all Twitter users never tweet, they simply consume the content of the people they follow. While this is fascinating, it is important to note that by engaging in conversation on Twitter, you’ll be able to take some of that new knowledge and use it in future tweets.
Authenticity gains followers.
When I first created my Twitter account, I paid no attention to whom I was following and vice versa. However, as time has gone on I’ve become more aware of my profile statistics. This in turn has resulted in me trying to gain new followers. However, I’ve learned that in order to be seen on Twitter, you have to be authentic. You need to develop your profile to reflect yourself and your personal beliefs. Retweeting content is not going to get you noticed, but rather providing your own tweet with a different opinion or argument is what will get your name out there and thus result in more followers.
Twitter is not Facebook.
Having only been exposed to Facebook, when I first joined Twitter I was pretty lost and confused. Everything from connecting with people to sharing content is different on the two platforms. For example, Facebook’s mission has more to do with identity and friendship than with sharing. In addition, Facebook is designed around the notion of reciprocal friendships, whereas on Twitter most connections are asymmetrical. Therefore Twitter is similar to a broadcast service — you only tune in to whose information you want to follow.
In the end, I’ve realized that everybody has to start somewhere on Twitter. Regardless of how long it takes to build your profile or gain an understanding of the platform, you will learn, listen and engage along the way. For me, I will continue to look for ways to enhance my Twitter account while growing as a professional.
Do any of these lessons resonate with your Twitter experience thus far? Comment below with what Twitter has taught you!
Emma Ingram is a junior studying public relations and strategic communication at American University in Washington, D.C. This year she is serving as the president of her school’s PRSSA Chapter. She was previously the Chapter’s vice president. She also serves on the 2017–2018 Industry News and Current Events Subcommittee for PRSSA National. Follow her on Twitter @emmaaingramm or connect with her on Linkedin.