I believe Twitter is the toughest social media outlet for people to grasp – and also has potential to be among the most powerful. When I first joined Twitter in 2009, I didn’t get it at all – and I floundered. But once I finally figured out how to make it more meaningful for me and my business, it became an awesome tool for networking and inspiration. Based on my experience, here are 5 ways to make Twitter more meaningful…

1) Be intentional about connecting with like-minded tweeps and role models. For me, that meant visiting the Twitter pages of well-known people I admired – like Wayne Dyer, Oprah, Martha Beck – to look through their lists of folks they had followed. I followed many of those people…and then I visited their pages to see whom they followed. Eventually, people started following me back and soon, my number of followers began to rise. My Twitter feed was – and still is – full of positive, fun tweets from people who feel like kindred spirits.

2) Put the best YOU forward. I’m often amazed how many people under-utilize the 160 characters available in their Twitter profile. Use that space to creatively and concisely let people know who you are & what you care about. It’s another great way to attract like-minded, like-hearted peeps.

3) Affirm others. I love retweeting someone’s uplifting or entertaining message – and adding my own twist/response. It’s a lovely way to tell others – even total strangers – that they’ve been heard and appreciated. What an easy way to spread kindness in a few seconds. And pssst! As you do this for others, you’ll start noticing others affirming your messages, too. Twitter karma!  {P.S. To retweet, just put “RT” and a space before the person’s twitter handle, like this: RT @liv_lane glad you’re giving twitter a try!}

4) Follow hashtags that mean something to you. Whenever you see a # before a word, that’s a hashtag in Twitterspeak. Click on the word and you’ll see all the most recent tweets from around the world also feature that hashtag. So, you might suddenly have a column full of #painting tips, the chance to connect with fellow #Adele fans, or an opportunity to network with people taking the same ecourse or attending the same conference as you {for instance, many bloggers follow the #savvyblogging hashtag to share resources and ideas with fellow bloggers}.

5) Keep track of your tweeps. When you decide to follow someone, you’ll see a drop-down box that includes the option to create a new list or add that person to an existing list. Let’s say you adore gardening; you can create a list that just tracks the tweets of people you follow who love to dig in the dirt as much as you do! I’ve created lists for local tweeps, favorite friends, artists, blogging resources, inspiration and more.

Happy tweeting, all!