the opinions and musings behind the expertise
#Twitter101: Welcome to the Twitterverse
Posted: July 27, 2013
So you've been sitting on the fence for a while and it looks like this social media thing is catching on and you are ready to join the global conversation... but where to begin? What do you use it for? And most importantly… why should you bother?
Q: What the heck is Twitter? Isn’t it just another Facebook?
A: Well yes and no. They share many similarities like the ability to share status updates, pictures, videos and links. Facebook is to Twitter like a phone is to a CB radio. Facebook is generally targeted at people you already know that are in your “Friends List” whereas Twitter broadcasts your posts for everyone to see.
Q: Not really making the distinction, why is this better?
A: It isn’t a case of better, just different. Visiting someone’s Facebook page is like being invited to someone’s house. You can see pictures of their family and their vacation, movies and books they like, and hear jokes they think are funny etc. Twitter is like being in the middle of a party with conversations happening all around you. You can listen to what people are saying, participate in conversations or start one up with someone.
Q: Ok I think I get it now, so how do I use it?
A: Now you’re talking! Let’s break it down…
Twitter Handle: This is the name you are known by on twitter (denoted by the ‘@’ at the beginning. All Twitter handles start with those). It can be your name or a nickname or the name of a business, it’s up to you. You can share some information about yourself in your Twitter profile linked to your handle.
Tweets: These are the short 140 character messages in Twitter. It forces users to be brief and succinct with their posts. A tweet can contain pictures, videos and links as well as Twitter Handles and Hashtags (links tend to be long, but they can be shortened by sites like TinyURL). You can tweet at someone, reply to someone else’s tweet or send a direct message if they are following you.
Hashtags (#): These little bad boys are called hashtags. You can think of them as the topic of your tweet, much like the subject line of an email. Including a hashtag (a word followed by # with no spaces or punctuations) in your tweet allows you to establish a conversation or join an existing one. Hashtags are essentially searchable keywords (eg. #GrumpyCat, #RoyalBaby) of a conversation. It allows you to find the conversation and tune into the discussion. This is how a subject ‘trends’ on Twitter and they are very useful for promotional purposes.
Following: This is like bookmarking a person on Twitter, allowing their tweets to come up in your feed. It essentially means you like what they have to say and are staying tuned for more. Unlike hashtags, this is based on a person, not a conversation or topic.
Retweeting and Favoriting: Any tweet can be shared again by ‘Retweeting’ it. This passes along the message so that people who follow you may see it. Clicking ‘Favorite’ is the Twitter equivalent of a Facebook ‘Like’. A large number of retweets and favorites increase a tweet’s popularity ranking and thus the likelihood for it to be seen by more people, possibly starting to trend.
Q: Ok I think I get the gist of it, so how do I use it for my business?
A: Once you’ve set up an account for your business, you can begin sharing information about your business online and communicate with existing or potential customers. Make yourself known in the business circles by interacting with them. Offer promotions and events and allow people to follow you in real time. Get creative in your advertising with the use of hashtags. There are worlds of possibilities!
Like most things in life, you get out of Twitter what you put into it. It’s a great tool that lets you keep in touch with people and keep an ear to the ground for what’s happening. With a little effort, you should have no trouble incorporating Twitter into your promotional plans for your business.