Thursday 19 May 2011

How I use Twitter and How to Get Started for those who don't

@wiKenilworth on an ipod
I've been asked to run some training sessions on Twitter, so an easy way to start, is tell you how I use it and and how you can get started if you don't. If you use Twitter already - great, pitch in and add a comment to this post.

I joined Twitter as @wiKenilworth on 3 December 2010, 167 days ago. Since then, I've made 1,370 tweets, follow 163 others and have 252 followers - so, that's about eight tweets a day.

I normally use twitter on a laptop, sometimes on an ipod and rarely on a smartphone. If I follow an account, then I read what that person tweets. The more accounts I follow - the more reading. That gives me an insight into their information, links and news - what I need to know. Most of the accounts I follow are useful and unique.

Mainly, my own tweets as wiKenilworth, are a title and link to the blog posts I write. From there, I tweet to ask questions or offer help when someone needs it.  If anything is vaguely uncertain, then I send a Direct Message (DM). However, you cannot send a DM unless someone follows you too.

From the 252 followers I have, I will only follow them back if there is a reason. I will not follow them just because they follow me (sorry folks, just being honest). If I'm working on a particular issue, I may follow an account for a while and then leave. And that's it. I've also set up my smartphone to alert me when I receive an @mentions or a DM. I am new to Twitter lists and have created only two: Warwickshire Police and Warwickshire Councillors.

To start using twitter yourself, get past the silly name and the word tweet. I think of it as FMCC - Fast Message to Contact a Commnunity. Some say email is so yesterday, in many ways it is. Go to and open an account. This post is long enough, so part two will focus on opening an account, following people and then see who follows you back. 


  1. Good post Mike,

    My strategy has been to follow a large amount of people as the more people you follow, the more people respond in kind and the larger your audience gets - I am currently close to one thousand followers. Many of those I follow, and who now follow me, were picked from the followers of @walsallcouncil so are most likely local.

    Whilst my updates are primarily relevant to Walsall, as I am a UK police officers they also concern a much wider area and as such I am regularly contacted by many people from around the country and even abroad.

    The ability to have a direct, two way interaction with members of the public has been hugely beneficial to our force and the feedback myself and other officers have received has been fantastic. People are interested in what we do, often have questions and are curious, wanting to know what is going on in their area.

    I try to make sure that I respond to all enquiries promptly and that my updates are interesting, have a baring on the public and shed light on what we do and a day to day basis.

    We're getting more officers take up Twitter and blogs each month and there's a good reason for this - they work.


  2. I agree that this is a great post mike, I use twitter for a mixture of work and personal, although my account refers to my professional occupation. As the senior fire service officer in Coventry for West Midlands Fire Service I like to let followers know the variety of work I am involved in and the local fire crews activity. The role of the fire service within the community is so much wider than emergency response and in fact is only a small part of the job. I try to keep my tweets varied and also demonstrate I am a person behind the account.

    I started using twitter from my office computer but now mainly use a smart phone (which I'm replying on now). Mike has been very helpful with my learning about twitter and has assisted in some twitcams between police and fire, he is also talking me into a blogger page (slowly!) and was very complimentary when posting about my usage of twitter.

    I don't follow everyone that follows me but I do hope that my followers find my tweets worthy of reading.

    Simon Shilton @spshilton

  3. I am similar to Simon as a serving station commander @oldburyfire station (had to plug my station) I use twitter and facebook to communicate how we provide services to our communities while trying to give people some fire safety advice and at the same time building up social networking communication feeds with our partners.

    I also use twitter for personal tweets and I find it is a light hearted way to have fun at work while engaging with collegues. I have found though that a lot of people do not get the concept of social media and I believe it is up to us to educate and influence.....don't forget to follow me @Neil_griff #leadership :)

  4. This comment came by email from Sasha Talyor @Sasha_Taylor :

    If you are looking at Twitter as a means of engaging your audience the key things are...

    1. Listen to what is being said by people, understand their point of view - they may have a different perspective and this does not mean they are wrong.

    2. Engage with them, understand their point of view, tell them why you agree / disagree with them (but DONT tell them they are wrong).

    3. Jump into conversations - give your point of view, but if asked who you are don’t be offended just tell them. The more you engage with people the more people will want to follow you and engage with you.

    4. Use a hashtag (#) for events so that those that search for this can see tweets from those they do not follow. You can also use tools to capture all tweets using the #hashtag.

    5. If people contact you make sure you engage with them and reply

    6. You will get spam – but in my experience this has been very low and easy to spot

    7. Decide whether you are an individual or whether you represent an organisation – this will often impact on how you engage and your follow policy. If you are an individual but known within an org – add a statement to say that views expressed are your own. If you represent an organisation make sure that you are engaging, not too corporate with your message and make it interesting.

    8. Do not create an account and only populate it with an RSS feed (ie non human interaction). This is a #fail within the social media world.

    9. Make sure you create your profile - leaving an egg as your profile pic and not adding info will indicate that you are not really taking twitter seriously.

    Twitter can be a good source of information - as DCC Stu Hyde (@stuhonline) said 'I get a 30 min heads up via Twitter'

    Twitter can be a good tool to make new contacts within your online network - this can be very helpful. In 2009 I was asked to write a Social Media policy for my org - I asked my network and within 12 hours had 7 from different orgs. Other senior people in the team had also tried their network with no response!!

    I have also met some really fantastic people through twitter in person who I would not have normally met. Therefore my advice is that if there is a social get together of your followers/people you are following - go!

    Within Warwickshire, those new to Twitter and other Social Media channels can seek help from the #WarwickSMS group (@Sasha_Taylor, @808kate, @Kaz_Ram & @Paulcoxon81). We have regular surgeries where we provide free advice to members of the public/organisations.

    Sasha @Sasha_Taylor

  5. Good advice Mike and your leadership is clearly valued by others.

    I'm with PC Stanley on the Twitter follow strategy. Sasha's great advise could be a blogpost in and of itself!

    You folks are doing great things in the UK. Keep up the great work. We all learn from each other.



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