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Twitter for the average user

There are quite a few people out there in Twitterland who are following tens of thousands of people on Twitter.  Many of them are writing articles about how to use Twitter, usually including advice stating that the more people you follow, the more interested in learning you'll seem to be.

I don't think it's about that at all.  I think there are a number of people out there whose ego seems directly proportional to the number of people following them.

So if you're an average user, don't be intimidated by these people who write articles and imply that you're a nobody if you don't have 20,000 followers…  Instead, think about what YOU want from Twitter, or any of the other social networking tools or sites, and make it about serving your own needs, rather than trying to fit in.
Here's a few tips for the average user of Twitter, or for someone who's not yet into it, but is wondering how they could make use of it.

1) Search for other Twitter users in your area.  Browse their profiles, or even their websites.  Check out whether or not they're of interest to you, either with their Twitter messages ('tweets') or their blogs.  If you find them interesting, follow them.

2) Once you've followed a bunch of locals, start searching the Twitterworld with search terms related to TV shows, hobbies or interests.  Again, check out people's tweets and blogs and see if they're saying anything that's interesting to you, and follow those that are.  You can even check out the followers of those you're following, which will help you find even more people who share similar interests, etc.

This is how you build up a small network of people who are in your area, or who share common interests.  It gives you something to talk about with people who share your interests or location.  You can even meet some of them at meetups for coffee or events, and make new friends.

3) Don't be afraid to get rid of those people who are sending tweets that are not providing you with value.  I woke up one morning recently to find over 200 messages, with one person having sent over 150 of them.  150 messages in 8 hours!  Didn't they have a life!  None of their messages were of interest to me, so I stopped following them. 

You can 'unfollow' people because they bore you, they irritate you, they offend you, or you just don't have time for them.  You don't have to give a reason!  It's all about making sure you get value from the service, and you're in control.  Follow those who continue being interesting to you, and get rid of those that aren't.

4) Use a third party application to monitor your Twitter feeds.  I use Twhirl, but there are many others out there as well, including some tools that monitor more than one messaging tool, if you want to bring it all together.

On a side note, I use Adium for Mac which allows me to have a single program for MSN, Yahoo IM, ICQ, and even Facebook Chat (and many other messaging tools which I don't use).  I'm just waiting for them to integrate microblogging (Twitter, Plurk, etc) into their messaging service.  Then it'll be sweeeet….

5) Follow only as many people as you can handle following.  If you start getting inundated with messages that you can't keep up with, and it's causing you no end of grief and making you wonder why you're even bothering, then you're probably following too many people.  See #3 above, and start unfollowing those that aren't providing you with value.

6) People will follow you if they think you're interesting.  Try to be interesting if you want to attract more followers.  Also, check them out to see if they're interesting to you, but if they're not, remember that you don't NEED to follow them in return.  They find you interesting enough to follow, and that's good enough.

7) Like any other tool, Twitter is only as good as what you make of it.  If you do nothing with it, then it will do nothing for you.  If you want it to be of value to you, then you have to find the value in it FOR YOU.

So, if you found these tips worthwhile and you think I'm interesting… then I look forward to you following me on Twitter!   🙂

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