Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in Small Business, Social Media, Tips and Tricks, Twitter | Posted on Feb 15, 2012
How Does It Work?
With tens of millions of users, Twitter is an indisputably important tool for web presence and social media marketing development. It’s surprising, then, how reluctant so many people still are to sign up and start using it. A lot of people I’ve talked to say it seems “too complicated” or “flat”, and while I understand completely where they’re coming from, there really is a lot more to Twitter than you can see on the surface. This guide will hopefully be helpful to those of you who are unfamiliar with the platform and are looking to gain a better understanding of what Twitter really is and how versatile it can be.
The most basic function of twitter is to post small phrases or updates that can be seen and shared by the general community. Social exchanges on Twitter are essentially based on interactions between followers. Users create profiles and can choose to follow other users. Those selected users’ tweets will then be displayed to the follower on their homepage. There is no limit to who can be followed.
Having followers grants one a collection of advantages. Besides reaching more people, one can also send private messages to individual followers. The more followers one has, the more likely their tweets are to be seen and the greater their ability to generate interest in their subjects.
Tweets are composed of 140 characters and rely on a tagging system to signify common goals or connections. These tags are accomplished with the help of two symbols:
@: Reply – Placed before a username, the ‘at sign’ tags that user in the tweet, simultaneously creating a link to that user and notifying them of their tagged status
#: Hashtag – Placed before a subject of the poster’s choice, the ‘pound sign’ signifies that the tweet is associated with that subject and can be viewed with other posts containing the same tag. This feature is not restricted to private use and can be used by multiple parties to post about the same topic
Out of necessity, many tweeters use abbreviations instead of full words, allowing them more space to get their messages across. Some popular ones specific to the site are:
DM: Direct Message
FF: Follow Friday (tweeters posting #FF give an endorsement to people, companies, or products that they find interesting)
HT: Heard Through
Twitter is in fast paced and constantly changing, so it’s important to maintain a regular presence; posting two to three times a day is recommended, with anything up to five or six well-paced tweets being acceptable. As with any social media, try not to focus too much on individuals – no one likes to be spammed – but be aware of their presence and their importance to your campaign. Above all, stay current. That’s what Twitter’s all about, and your followers will drop you if you become boring or start telling them things they already know.
A great way to stay on top is to organize you and your follower’s tweets with a twitter management service. TweetDeck by Twitter is excellent for grouping, though it lacks technical features and is mostly used for collecting tweets more efficiently. A great tool for actually analyzing your activity is HootSuite, a web-based analytics service that monitors Twitter and other social networks and combines the data in order to form a more coherent picture of your profile’s efficiency.
Things to Remember
1. Twitter is a VERY public place with lots of users; everyone sees what everyone posts. If you have an issue or complaint about someone or something, be sure it’s constructive before you decide you need to vent. Not only will people find out about it, they’ll more than likely make an issue of it at some point in the future. Unless you’re trying to raise awareness, it’s better to share negative comments privately through Direct Messages or not at all.
2. People aren’t looking to get spammed. Including people in your daily business is an integral part of Twitter, but it’s also important to recognize established boundaries. Don’t tag individuals without cause and absolutely do not insert yourself in conversations that aren’t directly relevant to you or your business. There are people who monitor Twitter, and they are not at all kind to spammers.
3. Above all, stay fresh, stay connected, and make it fun; be the user you’d like to hear from. It’s a long road ahead, so stay energetic and attack the world with positivity. Tweet, develop, and make the internet a better place for you and those around you.