Posted by Jay Wilkinson

When Twitter first came onto the scene, many people were skeptical, wondering if this so-called “micro-blogging” idea would catch on with the masses. Needless to say, it did, and it’s become an effective marketing tool for some organizations. Still, I know that some people remain in the acceptance process even today.

The Stages of Acceptance
Denial is the first stage of acceptance, where you think that Twitter can’t possibly make a difference. The second stage is about trial and experimentation, finally deciding, “I guess I should at least get a Twitter account.” Users then typically move into the dumping stage, where they use Twitter for linking to blog posts or to point people to press releases. (If this is how you use Twitter, that’s okay—it’s not a bad stage.)

In stage four, users start conversing and sharing useful information. Then in stage five, Twitter users consistently engage in conversations and interact with others, tweeting and retweeting regularly—this is really the micro-blogging stage.

The Steps to Getting Started
Regardless of where you’re at, let’s talk about the basic steps to becoming a regular Twitter user.

Then, what do we tweet about? Lots of things: Upcoming events. Questions for our constituents, asking for their opinions or perspectives on certain issues. Impact stories (which is one of the greatest things to blog about, by the way). You can also recognize volunteers, supporters or others in your community. The key to tweeting is simple—be interesting, and don’t be boring.

Now let’s talk about three Twitter power tips.

Choose a short username. Tweets are only 140 characters, so when people reply to you and you have a long name, you leave them less room for message content. Find something that fits with the image of your organization but isn’t too verbose.

Use a third-party tool to tweet. I’d recommend HootSuite or TweetDeck. These tools allow you to do some cool things, like schedule your tweets and monitor conversations about your organization. I find HootSuite a little easier to use than TweetDeck and it’s absolutely free.

Use keywords in your Twitter profile. When you fill out your profile, include the words that people will actually use to search for your organization—this will make you more findable.

If you looked at my Twitter profile, you’d notice in my description that I tweet about “marketing, social media, nonprofits and technology.” I also include words like “entrepreneur” and “angel investor”—things that I’m very involved with and ways that I want people to be able to find me. Also, when you tweet, be mindful of search terms and keywords there, as well.

These tips will get you well on the way to establishing a solid presence on Twitter. Next up: Check back next week for some solid power tips for LinkedIn users.