I constantly joke about the fact that for years I thought Twitter was silly and only celebrities used it. After much deliberation, I joined Twitter in 2010. I taught myself how to use it. It wasn’t terribly hard. That’s the problem I initially had with it in the first place. It seemed overly simple. You just talk to random folks? That’s it? What’s the point of this thing?

After a couple of months, I had the Twitter thing down and I knew how to operate it. I’m here to tell you that Twitter has real value not only for Bloggers, but also for companies and individuals.

The main thing you need to realize about Twitter is that it’s like a giant party. There are so many folks at this party and you need to sit down, grab a drink and talk to folks that “get you.” Some of them will ignore you, and some of them will think you’re pretty awesome and want to get to know you better.

Here’s my short list of things to do on Twitter to use it effectively:

1. Follow people
It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. When I started using Twitter, I didn’t have any followers. So I searched in the search for for the word “mom.” I started following all the people that had mom in their user name. It’s important to find your niche in Twitter land. You may be wondering, what is a niche on Twitter? Here’s an example: my niche is parenting, and more specially, moms. I tend to follow fellow mom bloggers. I started with the ladies, and then when I felt I had a substantial amount of mom blogger followers, I moved on to following dads. A word of caution: don’t follow too many people or Twitter will get suspicious and stop letting you follow people. Start with 50 people. Choose 50 folks you think you have something in common with and follow them. Choose a mix of people that have a lot of followers i.e 20K and a moderate amount of followers i.e 1000-2000.

2. Talk to people
Once you’ve followed people that are in your niche, talk to them. Look at the things they’re posting and chat with them about them. In short, tweet them!  It’s very important to talk to your followers. First, this makes them aware of your existence and secondly, it allows you the opportunity to form relationships. This is where my psychology background comes in handy. I make friends with folks by commenting on their content FIRST. Don’t ask anyone to read your stuff until you’ve read or commented on theirs. It’s just polite and common sense.

3. RT things
If you like what someone tweeted, RT it. They are aware that you’re doing it and it makes them pay attention to you.

4. Use Hashtags
I know hashtags are ridiculous, but use them. So, for example, if you write a post about being a mom, use the hashtag #parenting. If you write a post about baseball use the hashtags #baseball and #sports. The use of hashtags calls attention to your post. You might be wondering how that happens. People on the internet are generally bored, so they’re searching for things to read about. They will search under the ”discover” box on Twitter for topics. If you find your tweet by searching #baseball, that’s great!

5. Thank people for following you in a personal way
When someone follows me on Twitter I always thank them. “Thanks for following.” But I don’t stop there, I then ask “How did you hear about me?” That opens up a dialogue and invites that person to tell you about their particular interests.

6. Have Fun
Don’t just post random blog entries. Post thoughts that pop into your brain. My dear friend Jenni Chiu once described Twitter as a garbage disposal for her brain. She’s right. I often will post things that I think are funny or emotional in order to share with my audience that I too am human. I’m not just trying to market myself.

I hope you enjoyed your Twitter tutorial. Now go out there and tweet your butt off!