{Prologue: If you read to the end, you could win a $25 Tim Horton’s gift card!}

Twitter can be wonderful, especially for bloggers. Last week, I sent out this tweet:

Within minutes, 8 people had “Favorited” the tweet (Why? I still don’t understand “Favorites”; can someone please tell me how you use them?), 9 had replied to me with their support, and 5 had very kindly retweeted my message. Including Today’s Parent, who sent it to their 423,753(ish) followers. Which then (again within minutes) landed me 14 new followers. When I checked them out, I followed several back, and noticed that I shared something fairly important in common with one, which led to a series of interesting DMs (Direct Messages). All because of one Tweet.

But I know I haven’t always used my Twitter account to my (or my followers’) advantage, so I decided it was time for a Spring clean.

I reread my copy of Twitter For Dummies, basically because one night I wanted to have a bath and had no reading material (which will make sense to some of you) so I went down to the reference section of my bookshelf (yes I have a reference shelf, and no it is not alphabetized, thank you very much), chose an old favourite and gleaned some new ideas.

Here’s what I did to refresh @thismomloves on Twitter:

  • Updated my profile photo. The last one was three years old, but I liked it! And yes, I’ve taken some other decent pictures over the last three years but some have other people in them, or distracting backgrounds or were from when I was blonde, and now I’m brunette again so that seemed silly. You may be able to see the new shot above on my tweet, but just in case you desperately want to see it in detail:

(By the way, I was dressed up for an important reason. Which I will share here someday once I get my nerve up. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m wearing a LOT of makeup.)

  • Updated my profile page. It used to just have the boring and functional description: “Mom, teacher, freelance writer, blogger”. Lately I’ve seen some inspiring profiles that were more personal and/or clever, so I decided to add a few more details (more personal, still not clever). You’ll have to check out my profile to see!

  • Checked my Settings, and visited the Help Centre to learn more about Twitter. I wasn’t sure about some things, for example why I wasn’t seeing when the people I followed sent @replies to others  (which I would sometimes notice when looking at a person’s profile). Here’s why:  “People will only see others’ @replies in their home timeline if they are following both the sender and recipient of the @reply.” Learn something new every day. (When your kids come home from school and say they learned “nothing”, they are lying.)

  • Found Friends: when I joined, not a lot of my friends were on Twitter. I used the Find Friends feature to search my Yahoo mail contacts to see who else is on. I actually only found a few to follow (wow, tongue-twisters galore here)…and how did I not know my Mom is on Twitter?

  • Checked in with JustUnfollow.com: This app shows you the users you follow who do not follow you. Most of the celebrities I follow show up on this list (I can “whitelist” them so they don’t pop up every time I check) but I can also see if anyone has unfollowed me lately. Case in point: someone who just followed me last week, whom I followed back because she looked interesting, proceeded to unfollow me a day later. Nice. So yes, I unfollowed her too. Maybe she is indeed interesting, but no longer someone I want to support if she’s that shady about boosting her Twitter numbers. I’m sure some of my followers have checked out because the only reason they followed in the first place was for a giveaway…which is why using that as a bonus entry sometimes seems ridiculous to me, but I still do it occasionally to reward those who do follow @thismomloves.

  • Rethought how I use Triberr. Long story short, Triberr is a network where you form a “Tribe” with other bloggers, and tweet out their post headlines, as a way to help increase each other’s reach. I did a whole post questioning the value of Triberr a few months ago, and finally decided to just relax. I check in every couple of days, and only tweet out headlines that really interest me, and which I think my followers would also be interested in. And yes, I do this more often for my Tribesmates who actually go to the effort to tweet out my stuff too (I’m talking about you, Raylene @OKtobeWEIRD, you generous Tweeter).

  • Made a decision to use Twitter less as a “Here’s a link to my post so come on over” tool. I’ve posted a few favourite quotes (from The Little Prince, most recently), retweeted some interesting things I’ve come across in my stream, and I’ve been making an effort to (in a genuine way), engage with others by replying to things they say.

  • Tried to start using more photos, like the one last week that showed how my new Target dress was falling apart more and more – in several different places – as my workday went on (see below). Yeah, it was so embarrassing that it became funny. At least I never flashed more than my arms and some upper-leg tights. In other questionable photography, there was also my 4 year old with her temporary Guinness Shamrock tattoo on St. Patrick’s Day.

When it comes to Twitter, one thing that frustrates me is when I send out a general question, e.g.:  “Anyone see anything good at the movies lately?” which theoretically goes to 2200 people, and I get crickets in response. Christy from @morethanmommy commented somewhere  (sorry I can’t be more specific) that is seems like “Everyone is talking and no one is listening”, which really resonated with me (I mean, if I can’t keep up with 300 people, how can others actually see tweets from the thousands that they follow?) but I think the more I engage with others, the more I’ll get back in return.

In closing, here is my secret for not being overwhelmed by Twitter: As of the writing of this post, I have 2230 Twitter followers, and I am following 298. Many whom I follow are those who followed me from the beginning (lots of Mom bloggers) and I don’t have the heart to unfollow them, despite the fact that I cannot possibly keep up with the stream. On my BlackBerry, I can scroll for a full minute, and not even get through the last hour’s worth of posts, which is crazy if I’m trying to read a day’s worth in one sitting (and I can also scroll for minutes and only see giveaway tweets).

While I do offer giveaways on my blog, at my readers’ request (I actually did a poll) I’m not a big entrant so these tweets aren’t helpful to me. So what I did was create a list I first called “Celebs”, but where I have basically listed anyone whose tweets I don’t want to miss (about 50 people. And the list is private, so you’ll never know who’s on it!) When I log in, I go straight to my “Celebs” list, and within a few scrolls I can catch up on the entire day for these Tweeters. Or Twits. When I have more time, like on the weekends, I scroll through my general timeline but can’t possibly read every tweet that’s been sent out.

So that I never miss anything that’s personal to me, I have my e-mail notifications set up so that if anyone @mentions me or sends me an @reply or a Direct Message, I find out right away and can respond.

I’m hoping this Spring Cleaning will help me to use Twitter in a more meaningful way, and to give my followers a better experience with @thismomloves too.

How about you? Are you a Twitter boycotter, newbie or expert? What will you do to Spring Clean your Twitter account?

{Epilogue: This is a bit of an experiment. Here is a link to the tweet for this post:
 Anyone who retweets it before Sunday, April 7th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time will be entered to win a $25 Tim Horton’s gift card. Your odds are good, because I am predicting that maybe a dozen people will do this, but perhaps I’ll be surprised. Good luck!}

11 comments on “How I Spring Cleaned My Twitter Account {And Tim’s Card Up For Grabs!}”

  1. 1) I LOVE the yellow top. It is a great colour on you.

    2)Boycot Twitter because it seems confusing. You totally just re-affirmed my assumptions;0)

    3) Heard about the Target dress, sigh, what a shame!

    4) Good LORD you have a reference shelf! Ah Kate, we love you for it!!

  2. I have so many people say that Twitter is confusing. It's a matter of figuring out how to tune in to what you want to watch/listen to, and being OK with tuning out the rest. 🙂

    Loved these 'tips' – if more people actually put some thought into how they use Twitter, I think we'd all have a better experience.

    You made my day, Kate! Thanks for the mention!! 🙂

    ~ Raylene

  3. followed and retweeted–I don't think I use twitter enough as it is–the twitter grid gets me a little confused occasionally but I still keep trying and sometimes it seems I doing great I get it other times I get so confused at who said what when,and thats on real time–lol–Thanks for the insite on the different lists -never paid attention to it before so now I will look for it and use it

  4. I've been on Twitter for a few years now and use it daily–mostly to tweet contests 🙂 I love contests! I use Hootsuite which allows me to see my tweets, my tweet feed, mentions and direct messages at all once. It's really a great tool!

    I retweeted your tweet @glogirl3

  5. I have been on Twitter for a few years and still learning. As when I am asked to retweet I just click retweet but I have seen some copy and paste ther tweet with RT in front of the tweet. As I enter giveaways I am not sure which way is proper. So still lots to learn 🙂

    silverneon2000 at yahoo dot com

  6. I love twitter, but you're right I find it overwhelming sometimes to scroll through all the giveaway and blog post tweets and sometimes i find the Triberr retweets to be confusing because I think it's the person retweeting who wrote it. (does that make sense?) I haven't had the time to keep on my twitter relationships lately and I feel bad but there is so much in my feed I can't keep up. I really need to learn how to put a list together and use Twitter more effectively 🙂 This is a great post thanks for writing it 🙂

  7. I just love this post. I try and do a Twitter clean up every so often. I even just did a clean up from several bloggers who are in those Triberr things; more tweets of others' posts than their own thoughts or links! So annoying!

  8. Further to Tabitha's point – sometimes I hesitate to resend posts from my Triberr tribesmates because of the headlines, in case people do think they're mine. "Baby On The Way" should not be anywhere near my Twitter profile!

  9. I started using Twitter when my son was born in 2009. I really needed to talk to other mom's and feel connected to someone other than my baby. I follow many blogs and now have so many friends because of Twitter. I just love it.

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