How to make the most of Twitter

Twitter is one of the best social networks you can use if you freelance. Not only is Twitter free to use, it's incredibly powerful for those looking to connect with others and/or win new business. You can follow people who are relevant to you, network and win new business, all at the touch of a button.

But how do you get the most out of those 140 characters and the people you follow? How do you make the most of Twitter? The following tips will help you exploit everything the micro-blogging site has to offer...

Search for people to follow

Twitter has its own built-in search facility to help you find relevant people to follow. You can either see who Twitter suggests under the Who to Follow section, Browse Interests or Find Friends. Or you can use the search box to find something more specific. Start to follow those in your creative field and you'll be on the right track.

Find your trade magazine's Twitter account

A really good tip is to search for your favourite trade magazine's own Twitter account and not only follow them, but look at all the people that are following them. This is a great way to quickly find relevant people to follow.

Target different industries by following the right people

If you want to break into new industries, then why not follow people on Twitter associated with those industries? For example, if you're in graphic design and you want to get the attention of universities or colleges, then follow people who work there and try to build a relationship.

Get your etiquette right

Twitter has its own set of rules on etiquette. Make sure you're aware of them so you don't alienate anyone. If you need to know the rules, read this guide on Twitter Etiquette.

Don't expect anything

Remember, Twitter is just people. You won't get very far if you only tweet about yourself and shout about your products/services. Make friends with people, build relationships and never expect anything from anyone. I've got a client that I met on Twitter and it took me a whole 18 months of tweeting before she decided to hire me for some PR.

Quantity is not important

It's all too easy to focus on numbers, but the amount of followers you have on Twitter is irrelevant. You could play the game of following everyone who follows you to keep pushing numbers up, but your home feed will just become impossible to keep track of. Only follow friends, people you've worked with, colleagues and the people you want to build relationships with.

Don't be afraid to block

If someone has insulted you or said something on Twitter that's just pointlessly negative, you've got every right to 'block' and keep them out of your life. Life is too short to allow idiots to invade your online space, so just block those toxic characters. Don't take it personally either. Some people are just weird and that's not your problem. Simply click on the little 'cog button and select 'block'.

Don't click on anything that looks dodgy

You know those tweets that say 'Is this you in this picture?' or 'Want to lose weight fast?' – don't click on them! They're spam and they'll only damage your own Twitter account, sending out similar tweets or DMs to all of your own followers. If in doubt, don't click on links.

Don't be afraid to spring clean

If you've followed too many people or you're finding that your home feed is getting too crowded, don't be afraid to spring clean and unfollow people. Using bulk unfollower tools like ManageFlitter is a good way to go. But beware – if quantity is a priority for you, then don't be surprised if people unfollow back.

Keep it clean, happy and professional

People love happy, positive people who tweet happy and relevant things. People don't like people who whinge, complain, bitch, moan or yap on about negative things all the time. If you want to make the most of Twitter, only tweet about things that are upbeat and relevant. Avoid using Twitter as a ranting playground. And avoid talking politics and religion.

Let your personality shine through

Twitter is about people, so let your true self shine through. Don't be too corporate and boring. Show the real you. Share snippets of your life and have a laugh now and again. It's not all about business. People want to see the real person behind the brand or business.

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