To give you the lowdown on Twitter, we first need to understand what it is and how it works. If you’re like me, when you first hopped onto the platform, the sheer variety of different functions and nicknames for those functions left you scratching your head. In this post I’ll be going through those functions with a description of each one to help get you started.
So, for starters, what is it?
Twitter is an information sharing platform that consists of text-based updates (‘Tweets’) of 140 characters or less. It allows users to create messages and share them with ‘Followers’.
How do I get started?
Once your account has been set-up (if you don’t have one yet, here is a guide to doing it yourself), you’ll notice there is a blue button in the top right hand corner of the dashboard which looks like paper with a quill over it. This is the ‘New Tweet’ button where you click to open the ‘What’s Happening’ box (pictured). From here you can type a message of 140 characters or less, add a location to your tweet or upload an image. Think of this as a status update – you can write anything from ‘Hello World’ to ‘Guess what event we’re hosting this Friday?’.
On the right side of the screen you’ll see how many ‘Followers’ you have, as well as how many accounts you are ‘Following’. You ‘Follow’ someone when you are interested in keeping up to date with what they are tweeting. You might follow your customers, friends or just strangers who you find interesting. Your ‘Followers’ are the number of people who find you interesting and want to keep updated on what you post.
You’ll also notice an area that tells you what is ‘trending’. Twitter is built on an algorithm that determines what topics (or conversations) are the most popular based on the number of individuals who use a hashtag at any one time. A hashtag (#) helps you find interesting tweets by grouping updates based on their topics. You can join a conversation by adding the hashtag to a keyword – so, when I tweet ‘I love Social Media’ I might actually tweet it as ‘I love #socialmedia’ to make it easier for people who are also interested in social media to find and respond to my update.
You can send your customers a public message by using the @ symbol when Tweeting (pictured). You will need to insert the users Twitter handle (username) after the @ for it to be directed to them. These messages are public and are a fantastic way of communicating with friends and customers. You can also send ‘Direct Messages’ (DM) by going onto the profile of account holders if you wanted to send something more sensitive.
You can also share interesting posts by ‘retweeting’ (RT) them. Retweeting lets that account holder know that their content is valuable due to you having made the decision to share what they have written for their followers with your own. Once retweeted, that post will appear on your own timeline of tweets.
And here concludes the basics of Twitter! I hope this guide helps you get started on the platform – keep an eye out for more social network 101′s and a post on making the most of the platforms for your business!