Twitter Guide for Beginners

Back to basics! For many of us, using Twitter is a given, as natural to us now as writing a letter was in the past. But there are still large numbers of people out there who don’t know how to use Twitter – so here’s everything you need to know about Twitter in one easy blog…Twitter is a micro blogging platform which allows you to post regular and timely updates to your ‘followers’. Twitter restricts you to 140 characters per update.

The best results from Twitter are obtained by treating it as a conversation. It should be interactive and be used as an opportunity to converse with those who follow you. It’s important, therefore, to check in regularly and be as open and honest as possible. Allow your personality to shine through and your following will increase.

Regularity of Tweets

Your tweets should be timely and relevant – but don’t post so many updates you begin to look like a spammer or people will stop following you. Generally speaking, 1 to 3 updates per day will suffice, but this depends on your own Twitter usage and goals.

Scheduled Tweets

Some Twitter programs will allow you to schedule tweets to be sent out through the day. Though this will save you time, the temptation here is to allow your messages to be sent out but to never actually interact. In order to get the most out of Twitter, keep your updates timely, relevant and engaging – and get into conversations beyond your own tweets.

Following

Following a Twitter user is done when you find that person or company’s tweets interesting. By choosing to follow them, you will receive their tweets in your home feed – the same applies for those who follow you.

The types of accounts you may wish to follow would be:

–    Similar interests to your company;
–    Possible syndications – other companies who might help yours move forward such as suppliers;
–    Influencers – such as influential trade magazines or bloggers on your subject area;
–    Potential customers – anyone who has expressed an interest in the kind of thing you offer;
–    Followers – if someone follows you and they seem interesting and relevant, follow them back!

Retweeting

Re-tweeting is the process of ‘forwarding’ a tweet from someone you follow to your followers. So, you would retweet something if you find it interesting and feel it would be valued by the people who follow you.

Retweeting also has relationship building properties – those whose tweets you have retweeted will see that you have done so and will appreciate it. Retweeting can help you get into the consciousness of influencers and people of interest to you and can be a great conversation starter.

In the same way, if someone retweets you, thank them!

Direct Messaging

Otherwise known as DMs, direct messages are private messages you can only send to people you follow and who follow you back. No one else can see your direct messages.

Hashtags

Hashtags (#) are used to link together conversations or highlight important topics within a tweet. Find out more about how to use hashtags in my blog The Twitter Hashtag.

URL Shortening

Because of the character constraints of Twitter, some URLs may take up too much space. You can shorten these URLs by pasting them into shortening tools like www.tinyurl.com or using in built URL shorteners in your Twitter API.

Twitter.com

Twitter.com is the main site for Twitter. You can access all the functionality of Twitter at www.twitter.com.

Twitter.com Home Page

The Twitter.com homepage gives you all the basic Twitter functionality

  •  Timeline: This tab shows you all tweets from the people you follow.
  • @Mentions: This tab shows you all the mentions you have had where people have included your Twitter handle in their tweet.
  • Retweets: This tab shows you your tweets that have been tweeted again by other users.
  • Searches: Within this tab, you can save searched which are relevant to your brand.
  • Lists: This tab allows you to create lists of followers, essentially categorising them for your own purposes. These lists can be seen by your followers. You can also view lists that you have been included in.

Adding an Update

To add an update on Twitter, simply type your message into the “What’s happening” bar at the top:

How to Post Twitter Update

Posting Twitter updates is quick and easy

Following an Account

To follow another user, search for them in the search box. When you have found them, to go their page and select ‘Follow’. Their tweets will then be shown in your feed:

How to Follow on Twitter

Follow me! I'm @lauralhampton

Twitter APIs

There are various ‘Twitter APIs’ available – these are programs outside of Twitter that allow you to use your Twitter account, often with added functionality and customisation. There are many of these available on the web, including www.tweetdeck.com and www.digsby.com – you will no doubt find one that is right for you and your needs.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a popular Twitter API that allows you to manage multiple Twitter accounts at once – great if you have a business account and a personal account. Hootsuite also has its own inbuilt URL shortener.

You can download Hootsuite at www.hootsuite.com or get more information on how to use it in my blog How to Use Hootsuite.

Twitter for Mobile

You can also make use of Twitter on your mobile phone (if it is a smart phone). Various applications to try might be:
–    Twitter for iPhone
–    Twitter for Android
–    Seesmic
–    Tweetdeck

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