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Being new to the Twitter world, I often find myself wondering, “Will I ever make it past 15 followers?” (15 Being a generous number, considering I currently have 6). I must admit, when I first created my Twitter account a couple of weeks ago, I was a bit skeptical of the social networking site. [Side-note: Twitter wasn’t designed to be a social networking tool. In 2006, the site was designed as an SMS based communications platform. Groups of friends could now keep tabs on what each other were doing based on their status updates. Within a year, Twitter rapidly gained worldwide popularity, becoming one of the most widely used social networking service that allows users to send and read “tweets”, which are limited to 140 characters.]

Although fascinating, I am not here to discuss the history behind this multi-billion dollar SNS. I am here to further explore how people (myself) can create a successful Twitter network. First off, when I think of Twitter, I imagine a number of different stereotypes of the classic Twitter user – some which I will try and avoid becoming.

1) The Broadcaster: This person joined Twitter for one reason and one reason only: themselves. Whether this person is constantly trying to sell, sell, sell or simply give mundane daily updates such as “Just ate a nutella crepe!”, the Broadcaster isn’t interested in engaging in conversations with rest of the Twitter world.

2) The Chatterbox: This person LIVES to tweet. Every five minutes is another post detailing everything from the latest episode of Homeland to what they ate for breakfast that morning. Everyone ends up resenting the Chatterbox for clogging up their Twitter feed. You’ll eventually end up clicking the “unfollow” button just to get some peace and quiet.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 3.26.40 PM

*Image courtesy of Flickr user Ozlem Haluk

3) The Impostor: This person gets a huge thrill out of pretending to be someone they are not. Whether they are masquerading as a politician, an actor, or a famous athlete, we must be aware of the impostor – after all, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

4) the Celebrity: We live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. Gossip magazines and reality television provide us with the intimate details of the lives of celebrities. We jump at the chance to follow the Celebrity on Twitter, giving us another media outlet to help us live vicariously through these godly creatures. We look up to people like Katy Perry, who has over 50 million Twitter followers (more than Barack Obama), and hope to generate an impressive Twitter following just as she has done, however, people simply aren’t as interested in the daily updates of us “normal” people.

And now I pose the question: how does one create a successful Twitter account and avoid becoming ‘The Broadcaster’ or ‘The Chatterbox’?

The purpose of a social networking service is to help people build connections with others who share similar interests, beliefs, common backgrounds, etc. The key here is interaction. When I first started to tweet, I didn’t really understand this concept. I tweeted articles about Ukraine and parents on Facebook, but I didn’t engage in any conversations with the Twitter community – my followers and the people whom I follow. Now that I have a better understanding of Twitter, I believe that one of the keys to creating a successful network (fingers crossed) is to engage in real conversations. In order to avoid being the Broadcaster, I have begun to actively participate in debates and respond to posed questions tweeted by people I follow. After all, nobody wants to follow the person who tweets just to hear themselves tweet!

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*Image screen-shotted from Twitter 

In order to avoid being put in the Chatterbox category, I believe it is important to tweet with purpose. Online, your content defines you – you are who you tweet. When I am writing my 140 character tweet, I will try to think about who I am engaging with and how I wish to engage with them. According to blogger-author Jeff Bullas, one of the keys to success on Twitter is “building a targeted tribe.” (click here for link to article) He stresses the importance of attracting followers who share similar interests as yourself, or “carving out a niche.” People like stability. If I choose to follow a fashion blogger on Twitter, I am not interested in what she or he has to say about politics – I follow @BBCbreakingnews for that information. I am not saying we should be confined to a specific topic, however, I do believe posts should be both relevant and useful. Whether you choose to tweet about politics, celebrity culture or business, it is important to know who your target niche is – they are following you for a reason!

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 1.28.07 PM*Image courtesy of Flickr user Johnny Rodriguez 

As I continue to further explore the vast world of Twitter, I will remain dedicated to posting both meaningful and relevant tweets. I will also make a great effort to develop online (and perhaps even offline) relationships through increasing my engagement with the Twitter community. Maybe I’ll even exceed my goal of 15 followers!

Do you think there is a key to creating a successful #Twitter profile? @NYUPRG14

*Featured photo courtesy of Flickr user Scott Beale

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