Happy New Year! Did the holidays leave you fat? Bloated? Exhausted? We can’t help you there, but we can whip you into top Twitter shape. Train with these tips, and you’ll be a Twitter stud in no time flat.

Tip 1: Set a Goal

At the gym, your goal may be to shed 15 pounds or build your biceps. Whether you’re training for a triathlon or to keep up with your kids, you know why you work out.

You can take a similar approach with Twitter. Identify your wishes: both quantitative (followers, mentions, and retweets) and qualitative (clout, brand awareness, influence).

Are you looking to drum up donations, recruit new talent or connect with potential clients? How will you measure your progress?

Tip 2: Find the Right Gear

The right Twitter gear starts with your outfit — when you look good, you feel good. Your bio should hit the highlights in 42-characters or less. Consider which words and search terms are most important to your audiences (but use common language and steer clear of jargon). Once your icon and background image match your brand, you can hit the ground tweeting.

Don’t forget to accessorize. Get race-ready by adding a Tweet button to your website, a link in your email signature and e-newsletter, and your Twitter handle on business cards.

While the gear doesn’t make the bird, it can certainly help the bird fly further.

Tip 3: Buddy Up

A Twitter buddy can help your performance. Look around your office — which of your coworkers would make a good social media partner?

The two (or more) of you can collaborate to keep a steady stream of ideas flowing into the Twittosphere. Your buddy can inspire you with new topics, offer viewpoints you may not have considered, and keep you in check if you start to slack.

Working together can build a stronger presence and keep your material fresh. After all, everyone knows that two brains (even bird brains) are better than one.

Tip 4: Stay Hydrated

How can you stay hydrated when it comes to Twitter?

Be a good listener. Follow companies and individuals you admire, and pay attention to what they say. Keep an eye on thetrending topics so you stay up-to-speed on daily buzz. When you know what everyone is tweeting about, it’s easier to join the conversation.

Choose your fuel carefully though. You could spend all day reading tweets, but you wouldn’t get much else done. Whittling it down to what matters most will help you from feeling overloaded.

Tip 5: Find a Few Minutes

What’s your most productive time of day? Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, identify your preference and plan your Twitter time accordingly. Even if you can only devote 10 minutes in the morning, tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite let you schedule Tweets to post automatically throughout the day.

What if your schedule is already maxed out? Make time for Twitter by going mobile. Use your phone to tweet on the go with the iPhone app or BlackBerry app. Even if you don’t have a smart phone, you can post updates via text message.

Tip 6: Join a Group

Group training can help you stay motivated. Join a Twitter group by attending a Tweetup. If that term has you scratching your head, here’s a quick definition:

Tweetup [tweet-up] noun, an in-person gathering of online Twitter friends and followers.

Tweetups give you a chance to have real conversations with existing Twitter followers and meet new like-minded people. While social networks are valuable, transitioning from online to in-person helps build connections. Interested in organizing your own Tweetup? This article from Mashable has a few tips.

Group interaction will also help you develop a livelier Twitter account. The more people you talk to on Twitter — by giving shout outs, retweeting good news, replying to comments, etc. — the more your network will work for you.

Tip 7: Don’t Quit

If I had a quarter for every time I was tempted to quit my triathlon training… I’d never have to worry about downtown parking meters again.

While you won’t gain 100,000 Twitter followers overnight (unless you’re Kanye West or Lebron James), if you put forth a sustained effort you’ll eventually see results.

Tip 8: Switch it Up

Any trainer will tell you how important it is to switch up your routine. If you do the same exercises day after day, you’re not challenging your body enough — plus, it’s boring. Ready to shake up your Twitter habits?

Heavy Lifting
Creating original content is like strength training. It builds your online presence. You might spend an hour writing a blog post that only takes two seconds to tweet. Avoid getting burnt out by mixing up the heavy lifting with some light cardio.

Pulse Racing
Tweeting links to interesting articles, videos or photos is relatively quick and easy. Even when your Twitter time is limited, you can find a few things worth retweeting.

Cross Training
Don’t limit yourself. Tweet the unexpected now and then, and you’ll keep your content fresh.

Tip 9: Track your Progress

Quantitative fitness progress (like losing 10 pounds) is easy to track. Qualitative progress is a bit harder to measure — maybe you can play tag with your kids without getting winded. Both are equally important in evaluating your success.

How can you track Twitter progress?

First, look at the numbers. Twitalyzer lets you measure Twitter performance, tracking things like clout and engagement.

You can also eavesdrop with Social Mention; the site combs through Twitter, Facebook, and nearly 100 other social media sites and sends email alerts when your name is used.

What Twitalyzer and Social Mention can’t measure is your brand perception. A strong Twitter presence can help build awareness of your organization, both online and offline.

Tip 10: Celebrate Success

If you get great results with Twitter, don’t be bashful. Your success stories demonstrate the value of social media marketing — and you may even turn a few skeptics into believers.

Here’s a quick example of our own. Several weeks ago, we blogged about the Top 20 Foursquare spots in Indianapolis and posted a link on Twitter. The link was retweeted by a few friends, then retweeted by friends of those friends, and so on. An hour later, the phone rang. Indianapolis Star business and technology reporter Tom Spalding had seen our blog post (via Twitter) and had a few questions. The next day, the story made the front page of the Indianapolis Star Business section.

How has Twitter worked for you? Did a Twitter conversation result in a meeting with a prospective client? Did you beat your fund raising goal thanks to a Twitter campaign?

We’d love to hear about it.


Writer: Devon Pasquariello

Pivot Marketing’s resident writer and self-proclaimed “word nerd,” Devon works with clients to hone messaging and develop clear, brand-building communications.

Illustrator: Brian Pennington

Art director Brian Pennington specializes in brand development and design. Clients appreciate his attentive, strategic approach and his creative work is spot-on.