how to get started on #twitter | los angeles senior portrait photographer

hello, all!

as many of you know,  twitter is undoubtedly my favorite and what i consider the most valuable social networking site. like many others, before i really gave twitter a shot i thought it was all about status updates like the ones you see on facebook.  uh – no thanks. i’m a big proponent of the “hide” feature on facebook so i can avoid people who post monotonous or spammy updates there multiple times a day.  so, why would i prefer a site that has the reputation of being all status updates, all the time?

because that description is just a dirty rumor.

when i started this blog in july of ’09 (ha – my first post was about mj’s death), the tofurious template i was working with had a spot for a twitter feed.  rather than leave the spot glaringly blank, i decided to sign up with twitter and post occasional tweets relating to photography only.

well, that didn’t last long.  before i knew it,  i was following all sorts of interesting people – people i know in person and people i’ll probably never meet.  because they tweeted interesting things, i wanted to respond to them.  and retweet them so my followers could read the interesting things, too.  and because i was reading so much interesting stuff,  i wanted to create my own interesting tweets.  and thus began my full utilization of twitter.

i’ve taken a few breaks when constant communication becomes exhausting, but i’ve never stopped appreciating the site.

now, you.

several times in the last couple weeks i’ve come across people who are either brand new or not yet using twitter when they really, really need to be (for professional reasons).

i want to give them some concerete steps to learning what it’s all about quickly so they don’t go the path of those who think they’ve really given it a chance by signing up, following 10 random celebrities, then deciding they just aren’t “twitter people.”  🙂

these steps will help you get a nice start to using twitter but won’t explain every little communication tool or definition within it – part of the fun is noticing things along the way and figuring out for yourself if you’d like to adopt or disregard it.  twitter is neat because from the very beginning, the users have determined how it’s used. you can make your account whatever you want it to be and use it however you want to use it – and all that’s valuable about twitter should be evident once you’ve been consistently tweeting for awhile.

step 1: go to and choose a handle (username).  if the account will be used to promote a business in some way, choose your actual name,  business name, or something memorable and relevant to the business.  like @icecreamqueen if your business is selling ice cream and you’re either a girl or a tranny. or an actual queen, i guess.  i see now that there is already an @iceccreamqueen on twitter whom i know nothing at all about.  feel free to follow her/him. he/she probably really likes ice cream.

any letters you capitalize during sign up will be capitalized as part of your name, so be sure to type according to preference. not surprisingly, my preference is to look at twitter handles that are all lowercase and do not have any characters like _ in them. if you’ve already created your name, you can easily change it to anything else that’s not already taken.  once you’ve established a following, though, it’s pretty annoying to them when you change your name. so start off with one that will have some longevity.

step 2: write your bio.  read other people’s bios to get an idea of what should go in this space. the bio should tell the viewer who you are, what the purpose of the account is, and what kind of tweets they will see if they choose to follow you.  although mine is the account of a professional portrait photographer, i also tweet a lot about running, food, drink, etc. so i include those things in my bio. you can also add a funny quip if that’s your thing and there’s space for it.  i personally like @benwhitehair ‘s where he says he was 2006’s time person of the year.  for some reason, that cracks me up.

while you’re fleshing out your page, choose an avatar and a background that goes with the theme of your account and hopefully stands out. (although most people will not actually see your background – we’ll get to that later.) everyone will see your avatar.

step 3: follow people.

follow your friends (people you already know who happen to be on twitter).  if you are like-minded, look through their followers and follow the ones that interest you.  do the same with their followers, etc…

follow news sources – cnn, la times, abc – they all have twitter accounts and update them frequently throughout the day.  twitter is my only news source, seriously.  i get my news from nowhere else.  and tweeters in your area will get local news to you faster than a media source ever could. also follow local type stuff – i follow @laist, @lanow, etc…

follow your interests – search using #hashtags in the search feature.  a # before a word makes that word easily searchable – you click on it and all other tweets that have included that particular hashtag will show up.  so, if you want to follow running-related tweets, search #run #runners #running, etc. include #hashtags in your own tweets as a way to help people find you based on those kinds of searches as well. reading tweets that use them will help you get an idea of how they’re used.

follow people in your field, easily found by searching hastags and keywords.  follow sideways and up at the bare minimum, but also follow down if you want to be generous with your knowledge.

follow people who are retweeted in your feed often – you can’t do this until you’ve been following at least a few people for awhile, but if you see the same people being retweeted in your feed and you usually like those tweets, go ahead and follow the account yourself.

follow celebrities you may like or have heard have active twitter accounts.  some are horrible tweeters and it’s quite obvious someone is telling them they have to do it. just because you like their work or their face doesn’t mean they’re worth following. but there are some, usually really random b-list ones, who are really into it and have a lot of worthy or entertaining things to say. “verified” will be on their main twitter page to note the actual person is behind the account.  no, you cannot get your account verified.  🙂  and the fake twitter accounts are in most cases way better than the real person twitter account.  because they’re funny.

follow people you want to follow you, follow back your followers, and follow people you feel obligated to follow. at least when you first open your account.

step 4: create lists.

follow people i’m obligated to follow?

that depends on the purpose of your account.  it may or may not be helpful to do that, but there are little things called “lists” which make it super easy.

every time you follow someone new, add them to a list you’ve created.  make sure it’s a private list, especially if you name it something like “tweets i ignore.”  🙂 put everyone into the category of your choice – i have lists for different topics and one that’s called “iread.” that’s the list i look at when i don’t have time to go through all the tweets and only want to see the ones i consistently appreciate reading.

there are also public lists which you can create to help others find each other and you can follow the lists of other tweeters, as well. i don’t use this feature, but it’s highly recommended by those who do.

step 5: get your apps.

i can’t imagine a reason to use twitter from  there are a plethora of twitter applications for both your desktop and your phone that make tweeting more fun and streamlined. hootsuite (both desktop and mobile) is great because you can schedule your tweets. i used it for awhile and absolutely loved that feature, but ultimately went back to my favorite echofon because i love the interface and functionality. google “twitter apps” and read reviews, see what you like about each one. Most of them are free so there’s nothing lost but time if you want to try one out.  if you have multiple accounts, an app is practically a necessity because you can easily switch between the two.

if you’re wondering why one would schedule a tweet, here are some reasons:

you have a million random or silly things you want to say in a row and don’t want to overload your followers at once – schedule a few of them throughout the week, especially during times when you can’t be on twitter.  therefore your presence will be felt even though you aren’t actually there.

you remember an important date, like a birthday, and don’t want to forget to acknowledge it.  schedule the tweet for the proper time as soon as you think of it. (tweets can be scheduled months in advance.)

you have followers in another time zone so you only overlap for a few hours a day. schedule a few tweets (or retweets of content they have missed) during their busy twitter hours.

step 6: start tweeting!  most people start with tweets about the minutiae of their daily life and that’s fine.  start with that, then mix in some retweets of stuff you like reading in your feed, pose some questions to your followers, post links to articles you like, post some links to self-promote, definitely respond and comment on what others tweet.


because the bottom line of what makes twitter important and special is because it is a platform for sharing – sharing yourself, sharing what others share, responding to what others share, sharing that which your followers will want to share with their followers.  it’s one big sharefest.  if your twitter account becomes in your face promotion and you don’t engage with others or respond to mentions, you are not getting the most benefit and probably will be one who leaves thinking it’s stupid.

i am by no means an expert on the subject but hopefully these steps based on the way i personally use the site have given you a foundation of understanding for why so many people love it.

tweeters, what did i miss?? –  additional hints, tips, and other twitter talk is much appreciated in the comment section so everyone can benefit from reading them!

and because it’s a photo blog, here is big boy oliver in all his freshly-shaved glory.  the groomer said he only tried to leave the table once!  🙂

email alej

by alej

show hide 13 comments

malaysia wedding photographer you know,that is one beautiful cat there!

alej i would have to agree – thank you. 🙂

Rebecca I’m in love with your cat! And awesome article by the way. I think I shall retweet it 🙂

alej ha, thanks. glad the big boy is so popular with you guys.

Jeff You’ve sucked me in with your password thing, now I’ve gotta know. By the way, you’re doing good stuff… keep it up.


alej thanks, jeff!

Jen Hello to my fav headshot photographer! I would love the password to the password protected blog!

alej hello to my favorite Richard Simmons aerobicizer! ;). password headed your way!

nicholas Things I heart: kittehs, akeiganphoto, passwords to things that make me laugh or uneasy.

alej and flaming desserts!

Saskatoon Wedding Photographer The cat looks like it’s about to say “Oh brother” 🙂

Tweets that mention how to get started on #twitter | los angeles senior portrait photographer » Los Angeles| Southern California Senior Portrait Photographer — […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alej Keigan, karthikvasan. karthikvasan said: useful stuff.. thanks! RT @akeiganphoto how to get started on #twitter – […]

thank you giveaway | win a free 16by20 canvas gallery wrap with image of your choice » AKeiganPhoto | Los Angeles Senior Portrait Photographer […] a longtime twitter devotee, the facebook fan page is a new thing for me and i’m awkwardly trying to establish how i use […]

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