13 steps you need to follow if you “don’t get” twitter

Do you have a twitter account?

Maybe you think you have no use for one.

Many of you are still wondering what the hell those #hashtags are all about.

They often come up on TV, don’t they, crawling along the bottom of our screens. Their cryptic and seemingly anonymous messages are annoying. They distract us from the topic of the broadcast. And who are these silly tweeters anyway?

The presenter begs us to continue online and follow on twitter. Are there not many of us who slink away feeling just a little bit left out? Miffed even? Oh that’s you! Good, I’m so glad I’m not the only one.

Then there are those “trending hashtags”. They sound positively frightening – like some army of scary triffids from which we can never escape . . .

Perhaps, we tell ourselves, twitter is only for celebrities. The Kanyes and Taylors of this world who have millions of followers. We often hear about what they tweeted on the news. Politicians build their followings on twitter too. And it’s interesting stuff! It really is.

But who would want to hear from little old you? And why would you want to get a twitter account?

After all, you’re not likely to become famous, are you?

Well, you don’t need to be famous or influential to benefit from a twitter account.

Become a follower of the influencers in your world

Twitter is about keeping up with current trends and being on top of what is happening right now. In its early days, the question for the tweeps was “What are you doing?” Twitter soon changed it to “What’s happening?”

With twitter you can follow the very latest news in your own field.

First of all, let’s get on top of the jargon. I misspoke just now. We don’t have tweeters or twitterers – we have “peeps” and we have “tweeps”. “Peeps” are people and “tweeps” are people who tweet. Then we have “tweets” and “retweets”. RT is short for retweet. That’s when you see a useful tweet from someone you follow and retweet it to your own followers. Just like sharing on facebook.


If you want to survive in today’s cut-throat and competitive environment, you need to sign up to twitter right now. Maybe you did already and just weren’t sure what to do next? Follow me . . . .

13 steps to “getting it”.

  1. Log into your new account. You will find twitter has already suggested some people who you could follow. Just ignore them. You probably don’t want to follow the people that twitter wants you to follow. These people pay to be front and center on your screen.
  2. Don’t worry about your profile – you can do all that later.
  3. Now, think about your career or your business. Let’s say you are a budding entrepreneur and a client of Triangle Direct Media. You have decided to attend the Inc5000 conference of entrepreneurs in San Antonio this coming October.
  4. Before you go, it would be a good idea to follow the keynote speakers on twitter. These are successful entrepreneurs from whom you can learn a lot. Simply reading their tweets will be informative. When you arrive at the conference, you will already be familiar with them and some of their companies. You will have something to talk about to other attendees and maybe even the speakers themselves. I expect you think you should follow them all then? NO! Stop right there.
  5. Because you may also want to see other people’s tweets. Some news organizations for example. Let’s say you’re interested in the US election. You could follow Trump. Do you think he’s going to follow you back? No, he isn’t. He has 42 million followers and only follows 42 people himself. Perhaps your a big football fan? Ronaldo? He has 45 million followers. (Dare I say he trumps Trump?) He’s not gonna follow you either.
  6. You could follow all these people by clicking the follow button on their profile. But their tweets would be random and messy in your home feed. And the clutter would only get worse as you follow more people. Sponsored tweets in the home  feed mystify many. We wonder why we ever followed that particular person. Answer? We didn’t. They paid. So, for the time being, follow no-one!
  7. This is where twitter loses many of us and we just give up. Don’t give up. Create a list. Go on – click your profile photo at top right and you will see “Lists” in the drop-down list. Click it.
  8. Now click Create List and name your list in the box. Let’s call our first list “Conference”. Use the search box to find those conference speakers who have a twitter account. (Not all of them do.) You can go ahead and add them to the list by clicking the cog on their profile. Then click “Add or remove from list” and check “conference”. There’s no need to follow them. If you can’t find the individual speaker, try searching their company name.
  9. Do the same with your chosen celebrities, your footballers and your presidential candidates, giving each list a different name.
  10. You are now ready to ignore your home feed. Simply click any of your lists to see the tweets of the list members that you added. Let’s try the Conference list. Can you see the tweets? You will now be able to decide who you want to continue to follow based on their tweets. Some of your list members may have business twitter accounts and business websites. Check their profile by clicking on their name. There may be some useful links and information there.
  11. When you return from your conference, you will be able to engage further with these influencers. It will be easy to catch up on their latest tweets and form closer relationships with them.
  12. Now let’s have a closer look at the tweets themselves. Some of your lists may have spammy tweets that annoyingly post the same tweet over and over. Just remove them from your list. Click the settings cogwheel on their profile, click “add or remove from list” and remove the tick. They disappear.
  13. Some tweets look like a foreign language or a strange machine code. Tweeps may use too many hashtags. They try to squash too much information into each tweet. The number of characters available for each tweet is 140, including account names, hashtags and shortlinks. You already know that an account name begins with an @ (have a look at your own). Hashtags # precede the name of a particular topic and some of these are very creative. Short links look like strings of random text. If you click one, you will go off twitter to wherever the tweep is trying to lead you. Some tweets have pictures as well to better grab your attention.

So there you have it. Nothing too intimidating. You haven’t followed anyone. Right now you are just another tourist and unlikely to attract very much attention at all. Take a bit more of a look around. Do a few searches to see what you find interesting over the next few days. You may even decide to create some more lists for yourself. Click the lightning bolt marked Moments at top left to check the latest news.

Got it?

Did you pick up any followers? They will probably go away if you don’t follow them back. If you want to remove them immediately, click the cogwheel in their profile and click block.

Do you think you might be ready to have a bit of a tweet yourself? First of all  you will need a good profile and some followers. Your lists will be useful when you want to increase your following. 

Look out for my follow-up post. Meanwhile, think about your audience. Who are they? They are the people you will want to find and follow.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or feedback


  • m.butcher@iinet.net.au

    January 16, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you Suze – one tweet won’t really help you. twitter is great for keeping up to the minute on topics you want to be across. But you need to sort the information into lists to do it otherwise it is just an overwhelming jumble of blurb as you say. Now if you want to connect with a particular person you already know – for example a fellow blogger, you can direct message them & get a reply, no tweet required. Really, for twitter to be useful you need to follow the people that can help you & if they follow you back they may retweet your blog post and would most certainly do so if you retweeted theirs. I am trying to find the time to write part 2 of this post which will explain who to follow and why. Meanwhile, I will tweet one of your posts and let you know if it gets any attention.

  • Suze

    January 16, 2017 at 4:59 am

    I had a twitter account..after a long time (at least three months of daily mucking about with it) I finally made a tweet all by myself. And after another month decided this is stupid and deleted the account. I just don’t see the point. If I have a conversation I really would like it to BE a conversation and not a blurb od a part of a sentence with some smily face.

  • m.butcher@iinet.net.au

    September 30, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Nena, glad to hear I might have helped! Thanks for the feedback. Part 2 coming soon!

  • Nena

    September 30, 2016 at 5:07 am

    Really great tips for someone that is starting out! I have been using Twitter for a while, but I didn’t know how the Lists part worked. Thank you for the clarification!

  • m.butcher@iinet.net.au

    August 29, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Thanks Gradmama! It can be daunting to tweet something when you don’t know the “etiquette”, or who can see your tweets . . . More in my next post.

  • Gradmama2011

    August 29, 2016 at 4:05 am

    Hey Maddy, nice to see you! I thank you too for this post, I’ve been thinking about a Twitter account, maybe I even have one… but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

  • m.butcher@iinet.net.au

    August 29, 2016 at 2:15 am

    Thanks Amanpan, I am already following you on Twitter, I have you in my bloggers group!

  • Eugenia

    August 29, 2016 at 12:05 am

    So glad to see you back. I have a Twitter account. Come and see me. I am a beBee Affinity Social Network Ambassador so my Twitter account has a beBee flair. https://twitter.com/riccikeeper

  • m.butcher@iinet.net.au

    August 28, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Good luck with it Olga! Once you have some lists you can just watch for a bit until you get to “know the ropes.”

  • Olga

    August 28, 2016 at 8:24 am

    This might be just the little nudge I have needed after a couple years (!) of thinking about a twitter account for myself.

  • m.butcher@iinet.net.au

    August 28, 2016 at 4:52 am

    Thanks Chris. It took me a while to realize that you don’t have to follow the people in your lists.
    I also prefer twitter to Facebook – it seems to have more reliable info and more interesting material.

  • thejuicenut

    August 28, 2016 at 4:47 am

    I love Twitter but I never understood about lists! I would see that someone I had never heard of had added me to their list but didn’t understand what it was or why. I sat and watched for a few months to see how people interacted and then started following people with similar interests and before long I had a whole new group of like-minded people to interact with. Much prefer it to Facebook which I abandoned as an individual a few years ago, although I do have a Page associated with my blog. Great post 😊

  • m.butcher@iinet.net.au

    August 28, 2016 at 4:40 am

    Thanks Bernadette, it’s nice to be missed! I have been working on some other things but hope to get back to the blogging in the summer. We have had a very short winter here, all the flowers thought it was spring!!

  • Bernadette

    August 28, 2016 at 4:33 am

    I have missed your writing. Happy to see you back.

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