The beginners guide to Twitter

The Beginners Guide To Twitter

Twitter is a social media platform where users sign up and share their views, news, thoughts and even jokes using no more than 140 characters of text or less. With such a short space to write, you can crank out several tweets within a matter of minutes. That’s the reason why a Twitter feed moves so quickly.

With millions of people adding tweets to the stream every second and in turn people are sharing those tweets by way of retweeting, you can imagine how much information flows.

Everyone that signs up gets given a profile which can either be public or private. If it’s public, this means everyone can see your tweets. If it’s private it means you someone who wants to see your tweets would have to send you an invitation. You have the ability to accept or deny access. Until you make a decision, their request will remain pending.

When someone starts following your Twitter profile, they will see everything you tweet in their feed the very second you press the tweet button. Your followers aren’t necessarily your friends and most will never have contact with you, but both parties have the ability to send messages to each other or comment on a tweet posted.

So let’s give you a basic breakdown of some of the popular terms used:

Popular Terms

A Tweet: – A 140-character message. You can now add images, gifs and videos to your tweets. You don’t even need to add any text to your tweets anymore.

Tip: Try to produce and tweet your own content where possible. This could be a recent blog post, the picture you have taken for a job or even video. The more the better. This way, more people will see you and your brand and will be able to familiarise themselves with you regularly.

Retweet (RT): Pressing the retweet button means that you are sharing content of someone else’s tweet with the people who follow you. This is kind of like a thumbs up to their content.

Tip: When you press the retweet button you are able to add an additional 140 characters to the tweet (which will be positioned just above it). The original tweet will be shortened and truncated.

Feed: Sometimes called a stream – This is a collection of tweets that have been posted from all of the people you follow. If you don’t follow someone their tweet won’t be shown unless someone you follow retweets one of their tweets. These updates are in real time (give or take a few seconds)

Handle: This is basically your Twitter username. If you are a brand or a business, make sure the name is as short as possible and as close to the name of your business as possible.

Mention (@): You’ll see this symbol a lot on Twitter. If you want to mention someone in a tweet you need to use their Twitter handle. For example, my Twitter handles are @desmonddreckett and @XenmediaM. By placing the “@” symbol in front of the username you can mention someone in a tweet. Every time this is done the person being mentioned will receive a notification that they have been mentioned along with the tweet.

Here’s an example:

An example of an @ mention on Twitter

This will be visible to the public of that person’s stream.

Direct Message (DM): This is a private message from one account to another. You can only do this if you both follow each other’s accounts. You have the ability to accept or decline messages from certain accounts. This is sometimes needed when you receive too much spam.

Hashtag (#): Hashtags are a way to collate information on the same topic. Twitter was world famous for making hashtags popular. It’s hard to believe that they weren’t used before. So what are they and how can they help your tweet.

If you were writing about the latest president of the United States, not only would you use his name “Trump” you could also use the hashtag #trump. The categorises your tweet to join a list of other tweets that use the exact same hashtag.

So for example, if you type the hashtag #trump into the search bar, it will show you a stream of other tweets that have used this hashtag. You also have the ability to simply click on a hashtag link and see the same stream without typing into the search bar.

If you would like more of these terms, Twitter has provided an online glossary of terms for you to refer to.

These terms may seem a little confusing at first, but I guarantee you that when you start using Twitter in your business marketing you’ll understand the terms a lot more and begin to use them yourself. The more you use it, the more you’ll learn to connect with people both locally and around the world.

1. Signing Up

To start using Twitter you need to sign up and then fill in the bio. The bio should explain who you are and why people should interact with your account. Some have even described the bio as “what’s in it for me?”. Anyone that looks at your bio is going to be asking this question before they start following you.

At the time of writing my bio is:

“I help GROW small businesses. Co-founder @XenMediaM – We 2x, 3x, 4x business turnover #GrowWithXen – Views are my own.”

In order to engage in conversation, you must introduce yourself. By creating a handle (see Glossary above) you can quickly describe who you are. A handle is essentially your address or calling card and is how people will interact with you and include you in conversation.

Your account should be filled out in full. This includes your profile picture (normally your logo), a header image and a link back to your website.

2. Following and Followers

To start with, you should start following accounts that are tweeting content around your niche. I described using hashtags earlier. This is a great time to start researching accounts who you can follow. Simply type in an industry related hashtag into the search bar or a generic term related to your business.

Twitter suggests I follow these accounts

Twitter suggests I follow these accounts

There is software to speed up this process and I briefly mention it in my free eBook, specifically in the “Not Engaging With Your Followers” chapter.

Tip: Don’t use Twitter suggestions for people to follow. From my experience, most of the accounts are quite large and are very choosy who they follow back. Twitter uses an algorithm based on who you follow, what you tweet about, reply to and retweet to find suitable accounts to follow. This isn’t always accurate and I find some of the suggestions to be a wrong fit for my brand.

I constantly get suggestions to follow Forbes, Moz, Buffer and Marketingland. Most of which will never follow you. Even if you have thousands of followers. Over time, you’ll find there’s no point following accounts that don’t follow you back!

3. Getting stuck in

So now you’ve registered and are starting to see a nice stream of tweets of people you follow, it’s time to get stuck in and join the conversations that are happening. Don’t forget, you can only use 140 characters.

If you see a tweet that you or want to answer a question that has been asked, then simply click on “Reply” and write your tweet.

Tip: Stay away from politics, tweets of a sexual nature, or harmful tweets advocating violence. This is not something you want to comment on. If you want, set up a separate account for this. For a business account on Twitter, you’ll want to be as straight as an arrow without going out of your way to offend. Stray from this tip and you could face hateful reply tweets and bad press on Twitter.

You can also involve others in the conversation or simply quote them by using their Twitter handle. After you have sent that tweet, you have the ability to view the conversation at any time by pressing the “expand” or “view conversation”. Sometimes you will see a whole thread of other comments depending on how popular the topic is. This is called engaging on Twitter (something very few companies do).

Remember, each time you use someone’s Twitter handle they receive a notification. They have the choice to either reply and respond or just ignore it. Use these sparingly and don’t go too overboard. Accounts have the ability to either mute you or worse block you. This means they won’t ever see any of your tweets nor will they be able to engage with you and vice versa.

The larger your account gets and the more interaction you have will slowly start building your presence on Twitter. You’ll start to become an authority and the go-to account people what to follow and engage with. This takes time and a little patience.

The more engagement you have, the more people will follow you. The more people that follow you the greater exposure for your tweets and your brand.

4. Direct Communication

Very few people use the direct message (DM) feature of Twitter. These are messages you can send to your followers that are private (only you and the other account can see this message). If you want to use this feature, just make sure the content of your message is 100% sharable anyway. The person or company you are sending a message to can still share this or take a screen shot and share it.

sending a direct message on Twitter

 

You don’t need to be following each other for this to work. There’s a way to change the settings that allow people to send you direct messages even though you don’t follow each other.

Another way to communicate using Twitter is through direct messaging (DM). The messages are private, between you and the receiver, but keep in mind what you say could still be leaked — just make sure whatever you send is something you’d feel comfortable having publicly posted.

Go to Settings > Accounts > you should see a checkbox marked “Receive direct messages from any follower.”

5. Retweeting

This is the second most popular way to share content – the most popular is liking a tweet. Liking someone’s tweet is not visible to your followers on a desktop but will show up in the feed on mobile.

Retweeting a tweet is visible on both platforms.

Retweeting is a big ‘thumbs up’ for the content producer and generally, only decent content gets retweeted.

To retweet a tweet you simply hit the retweet button (see below)

6. Hashtags

Hashtags allow a social media platform to categorise the content on their site, a form of labelling. The symbol “#” placed before a piece of text within a tweet indicates that this is what you’re talking about in this tweet. You can have as many of these as you want (just don’t go too crazy)… I’d suggest a maximum of 3 hashtags.

To find out all of the other content curated around a certain hashtag you can simply click on the hashtag or do a search. This will then show you a long list of other tweets that have used the same hashtag.

clicking on a hashtag in Twitter

If you’re using hashtags for business,  try to use industry-related hashtags where possible. For example, if you are a plumber, consider using #plumbing #plumber #waterleak #plumbingtips (you get the gist). That way, if potential clients are doing a search, you may have a chance of appearing in the search results, especially if you use these hashtags frequently.

7. Crafting Your Voice

If you have set up your account correctly, you should be tweeting, liking and retweeting content. Where possible, try to be consistent with your brand and niche. The moment you start tweeting politics or what happened last night on “Game of Thrones” you’re likely to turn people off and will result in a slew of unfollowers.

Tweet about what you know, become an expert in your niche and only like and retweet content that would be beneficial and helpful to your followers. As you start building your brand you will start to be seen as the go-to account where people go and follow to find out information on your niche. In turn, you’ll receive plenty of likes and retweets.

About the Author Des Dreckett

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