In our first of a three-part installment we introduced you to the world of Twitter. Now that you have a better understanding of why exactly you need to venture out of the Facebook realm and into the Twitterverse, we’re going to help you navigate through the murky waters with Twitter 101. Let the class begin!
Give yourself a name.
First and foremost you must come up with your Twitter Handle. A Handle is the same as a username – it is how people will identify you on Twitter. Despite seeming like a relatively simple task, choosing a handle is not something to be overlooked. When choosing a handle you want to go with something clever but not so clever that your potential followers cannot identify you! We have found that the shorter the handle the better. It allows people to retweet you and/or mention you in tweets. And remember, Twitter only allows for a fifteen-character maximum for handles (this becomes a theme as you will find out)!
Who’s paying attention to me?
Now that you have your fancy new Twitter Handle it is time to start building followers because really that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Since you are brand new to Twitter you must be wondering; where am I going to find all my followers?
Your best bet is to:
— Google your friends – Twitter firstname lastname – to see if they are busy tweeting.
— Spend some time reading their tweets before you dive in – this will give you a sense of how they interact with others and what sorts of things they tweet.
As you begin to send out your own tweets the challenge then becomes engagement. If you want to move beyond just tweeting with your friends, whether it be to colleagues, potential customers, etc, you have to provide content that others will want to read (and hopefully retweet!). If you are tweeting interesting articles, anecdotes, useful information, or anything that is helpful/beneficial your friends will begin to retweet, mention, or reply to you which will in turn increase the reach of your tweets. Consistency is key when tweeting, both in quantity and quality, so take care what you write and the rest will take care of itself.
What’s in a tweet?
So you’ve got all these followers excitedly awaiting your tweets but hang on, you’re not sure how to formulate a captivating tweet! There are a few important things that you must know before you put your fingers to the keyboard and begin tweeting to the world.
Undoubtedly your initial tweets will include links, whether they are to your company’s website or a cool news story. While this is all well and good, including a link’s full URL will almost always leave you falling victim to the golden rule of Twitter – NO MORE THAN 140 CHARACTER IN A TWEET! That’s right, your creativity must be boiled down to 140 characters, which means that you will in fact have to be even more creative. Fun isn’t it? There is a simple solution to those pesky long links – URL shortening tools.
— There are tons of different shorteners out there – becomes a matter of preference
— Twitter 101 can make it easy for you! Twitter now has its own link shortener built right in
— All you have to do is paste your link and it will shorten automatically (even though it doesn’t appear shortened in your tweet it will once you submit it)
You’ve got your followers, you’re tweeting ferociously, but now what happens when you want to acknowledge other people, respond to people who (hopefully) have tweeted at you directly, or mention other people in tweets?
There is an important distinction to be made between the different ways in which you can acknowledge someone on twitter – replies, mentions, retweets, and direct messages.
— Used when someone has tweeted directly at you.
— This is done by placing the “@” symbol before someone’s handle – use when you want to interact directly with another user.
— In order to reply you must begin your tweet with “@username” of the person who originally tweeted.
— This will ensure that the tweet shows up on their profile and will only be seen by the person you replied to and anyone who follows both of you.
The next means of acknowledging someone on twitter is the mention. The mention is very similar to a reply but the end result is very different.
— Seen by all of your followers – as opposed to just mutual followers
— “@username” can be anywhere in the tweet – as opposed to a reply where it must be at the beginning. Some people have been using Twitter for years and still do not know the difference!
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is important to give credit where credit is due – the retweet.
— Used when someone you are following tweets something so insightful or interesting that you just feel compelled to tweet it yourself.
— Under every tweet that someone you follow writes, there is an option to “retweet” it. The original tweeter will receive a notification that you have retweeted them but Twitter etiquette suggests that you should be more thorough in your acknowledgment. This is simply done by writing “RT” or, retweet, at the beginning of the tweet. Simple enough, right?
Let’s say you want to share something privately with a follower – seems almost impossible in the very public Twitterverse doesn’t it? Not to worry, Twitter has accounted for this with the Direct Message.
— Found in the drop down menu under your profile
— Allows you to send a private message to someone who is following you – only the recipient will see it
The final tool to add to your tweeting arsenal is the hashtag (#).
— Powerful tool when used correctly
— Marks relevant words and categorizes your tweet – makes them easier to find in Twitter searches
— #FF example – Follow Friday is a weekly tradition where users recommend other users to follow
— When added to your tweet the #FF becomes a clickable link taking users to a list of other public tweets containing the #FF (great tool for small businesses)
Apps Apps and more Apps!
Now that you’re an expert tweeter with more followers than you ever imagined it’s time to work on making your newfound success easier to handle. Here are some basic steps to get you started:
— Download the Twitter app for whichever operating system your phone runs on (iOS and Android being the two most common)
— This will allow you to tweet on the go from your cell phone for those times when inspiration strikes and a computer is nowhere to be found (!) – not to mention the ability to see and respond to tweets from anywhere.
– Once you’ve gone mobile you can turn your attention finding the Twitter Client that best serves your needs. There are numerous programs out there, all claiming to be the answer to your problems. Twitter 101 recommends Hootsuite.
— Manages all of your social network sites – Twitters, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and many more.
— Allows you to schedule tweets, posts, etc ahead of time to coincide with events like store openings, contests, sales, etc.
— Provides analytics to monitor activity on all your sites – particularly valuable for tracking things like trending topics or keywords related to your product
Hopefully by now you have a better grasp on what Twitter is, how it can help you, and how to go about using it. In the third and final installment of our Twitter series we will tackle the more advanced features of Twitter – TweetGrid, more Hootsuite, Friend or Follow, Twitter Parties, and oh so much more. Never heard of these? All the more reason for you to check back next time! In the meantime go out and get involved in the Twitterverse because reading about it is all well and good but nothing beats real world experience.