As a true fan of Social Media and of the powers of Twitter, I have been observing new users for a while now, and have had the privilege of training those who have an interest in using Twitter more effectively.
Twitter has a lot of strange things unique to it – punctuation marks and abbreviations which may look like alien-speak to anyone who hasn’t learned it. Although there are many guides online (I particularly like the Mashable Twitter Guidebook) I can see why a lot of people might look at the stream of tweets and wonder what is going on!
There are 5 basic things you really need to know– once you understand them you will be well on your way. – hashtags, RTs, @replies, mentions, and url shortening.
Retweeting means repeating someone else’s tweet. The simple way is to put the abbreviated ‘RT’, then their @name, and then paste their same exact tweet. There are other ways (for example using the “retweet button” but the old fashioned way is my favourite as it shows up in the list of mentions.
Hashtags (eg #WeddingWednesday, #Photography or #FollowFriday #FF) – putting a hash sign next to a word makes it a link which if you click on brings all the tweets with that same topic mentioned. You would put a #, then no space, then the word. This is great for Twitter searches – adding one of these makes you be found and possibly followed by a lot more people.
URL shortening – you can paste a long URL in a url shortening tool (I prefer Bit.ly) to generate shorter URLs for your article links – this looks a lot cleaner and more professional.
Replies – Reply to other’s tweets from your update box by typing “@theirusername” followed by what you want to say – or hovering over their tweet and clicking on the “Reply” button – which makes their @username show up in the update box. @replies appear in the public timeline – so they are part of a public conversation. It’s a good thing to use them as this is what makes Twitter interesting – seeing the conversations between people, and potentially being able to join the conversation!
Mentions – Using someone’s @username in your tweet is called a “mention”. This would show up in their replies and mentions part of their Twitter page (on the right side, under @theirusername). Including this in your Tweet, you will in a way be talking ABOUT them and they will see that. So, for example if you tweeted “Had a great meeting with @topleftdesign and @tamhall – they are fantastic” then you are in a way promoting us, and we can also reply to you and say “@ThisIsLisa thanks, it was great to learn all about your VA business – you really know your stuff”. As this is all part of the public timeline, this is a way for others to promote you too!
I hope that has been enlightening and I welcome your comments on this – you can even tweet me (just put @topleftdesign in your tweet) with your feedback. I will then reward you with some other useful tips!