Get a handle on Twitter
Do you have a coworker, colleague or friend ready to step into the digital wilderness and adopt twitter? This article can get them started. Even experts might find some new insights on the networks valuable tools.
Let’s start with the basics. What is Twitter all about?
It’s a social network, much like Facebook or Myspace, where users share thoughts, information, news and anything else in 140 characters or less. This social network makes communication measurable and cheap. Twitter profiles are usually public, meaning anyone in the world can see what you post, unless you choose to make your profile private. On Facebook you ‘friend’ someone to follow their profile. On Twitter you ‘follow’ each other for regular updates.
Following isn’t exactly the same as friending on Facebook, rather it’s choosing to see their updates on your twitter feed.
Now that we know what Twitter does, lets tackle some unique jargon associated with the network.
- Tweet: A 140-character message
- Retweet: Sharing or crediting someone else’s tweet
- Feed: The list of tweets you see on your homepage. The list is comprised of users posts that you follow
- Handle: Your username
- Mention: How a user references another user in a tweet. (i.e., @bluepelican). The user who is mentioned is notified when the @ is placed before their username.
- Direct Message (DM): A private, yet still 140-character message from one user to another. Users have the choice of accepting DM’s from only users they follow or from the general public.
- Hashtag (#): A popular way to note a topic that is searchable (i.e., #Obama). Using the # symbol allows the post to be indexed using the hashtag as the reference point. If you want to search for the latest election news, you would search #election or #election2016.
Twitter has a glossary of these and more topics, should they get confusing later on.
Twitter accounts are free and can be created by either downloading the mobile app on your android or iPhone or just by going to www.twitter.com. You will need to enter your name, email, password and create a handle of your choice. Once you verify your email, you’re ready to tweet!
Once you have an account, you’ll want to find some interesting people or groups to follow. Twitter will suggest plenty, but feel free to use the search box at the top of your screen or in the upper right hand corner of your app. When you find someone you’d like to follow, click the ‘follow’ button in the top right to start seeing their tweets on your homepage.
You now are seeing tweets roll in all the time! If you have the mobile app, you’ll be notified when you’re mentioned or someone follows you. You can disable these settings in the preferences pane of twitter or in settings online.
To really get involved, try ‘retweeting’ posts that you like, or you can click ‘reply’ and add your own thoughts to a tweet. Replies can be seen by anyone who see’s the regular tweet. This increases exposure and helps you grow your fan base.
Linking in twitter
Since twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet, you’ll want to shorten any links you post. The website bit.ly provides this service for free! You can even create an account and track how many people have clicked on your link to measure engagement.
Twitter is a great tool for learning, following, and sharing your voice. These tips should help you get through the door – from there you can craft your own voice and persona and engage with the world!