Using Twitter is pretty easy, but using it well requires some finesse. At first the lingo makes you think that you belong in an aviary, but as you begin to follow more people, all the noise will begin to make more sense.
“Tweeting” simply means posting an update on your Twitter account. First you must sign up at www.twitter.com. It is a snap and takes just a few minutes, but I suggest giving some thought to your username and bio (and of course, your pretty background)
You may not want to hear this, but the majority of the most successful Twitter users tweet a lot! Interact frequently and at varying hours and you have the best shot and being noticed.
The first way to interact with others is to mention them. If you send a tweet with a user’s name such as @username, it’ll appear in their @replies tab and they can read it.
To reply to a specific tweet, click the “reply” icon next to it. The @username will be automatically added to your tweet-box, and you can make a reply.
If you like something you see tweeted and you want to share it hit the “retweet” button. This takes the tweet, and adds “RT” in front of it. It’s sort of like saying “Hey, I like what you wrote!”
All of these kinds of tweets will appear in your public timeline, meaning that they will show in a feed for all of your followers and if anyone goes to your Twitter feed. Tweets are also indexed by Google!
However, if you send a direct message to someone, then the tweet will only be seen by the recipient. You can only send direct messages to users who are following you.
Types of Tweets
Some of the most popular ways that people use Tweets:
- Checking in with people / networking
- Asking questions
- Learning about a certain topic (try , Twitter Search for live info on any topic)
- Raising awareness (here in Israel people post about security drills, for instance)
The biggest mistake that I see is people who use Twitter basically as an RSS feed of their newest blog posts, neither responding to anyone else, posting from anyone else, or in other words, interacting. Twitter is a community, not a megaphone.
The 140 Limit
You’ll quickly notice, if you didn’t know already, that all of your tweets are limited to 140 characters. For some people this presents quite a challenge. I suggest thinking first about what you want to say and then editing it down to 140 characters. Don’t use too many abrev or it will b anoying 2 read 🙂
- Use a link shortener such as TinyURL
- Use contractions
- Eliminate some punctuation such as commas or periods (even though it breaks my heart)
- Be concise!
I also suggest making your post significantly less than 140 characters, because if someone else wants to retweet your post, they’ll be stuck, as the addition of “RT @yourusername” tacks on additional characters.
The last thing you need to know in order to get started is how to navigate hashtags, a topic with a # at the beginning to mark it. Basically, it’s a way to organize tweets by topic. One of the most common ways it’s used is at conferences. If there are a large number of people writing about what they hear or communicating with others, they may want to use #nameofconference in their tweet so that others can find them. The hashtag creates a link out of the topic, so that someone can easily find all of the tweets containing that hashtag, thereby making search and communication about a specific topic easy to trace.
I recommend not going full force into hashtags until you know what you’re doing. A tool you can try out is Twubs.
If millions of people are using it, it can’t be that hard, but data shows that most of the people who sign up for Twitter don’t know what they’re doing. Be smart about what you tweet, and you can learn a lot, meet interesting people, and develop business leads. Good luck and have fun!