Twitter can seem like a difficult social media platform to understand. If Facebook is like Windows, then Twitter is DOS. I tend to liken it to a ticker-tape. The point of either (rather aged) description is that it’s text-based and linear, making it difficult to follow any one conversation until you get your head around how it works.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet of some of the basics for using Twitter. This isn’t everything, but it’s a good place to start:
Tweet: Any post in Twitter
Retweet: Sharing someone else’s tweet. Many online systems offer a retweet button but another way to do this is to just add RT at the beginning of your post.
Modified Tweet: Retweeting someone else’s tweet and customizing it with your own modifications
Hashtag: When you put a hashtag (#) in front of a word, you designate it as a “keyword.” This hashtag then associates your tweet with other tweets that also use that hashtag. Click on any hashtag and you’ll get a new page with a list of other posts that use that same hashtag. Example: #coaching #getcoaching #masswomen (note: no spaces!)
Handle: A user name, designated by @. Example: @The_CommCoach
Twittersphere: The Twitter universe (Probably not a key term to know, but one of my favorites!)
- Complete your profile. A complete profile – including a headshot or logo – indicates an active account. It also helps others know who you are as they decide whether to follow you or connect with you. HINT: In the space provided for your bio, include any other Twitter handles you are related to (example: mine includes @ConstantContact).
- Be present. If you choose to automate (pre-schedule) posts, complement them with occasional “live” posts to show that you are checking in and present.
- Keep hashtags & handles under control. Limit it to no more than 2-3 hashtags and 2 handles in any one post. Twitter statistics indicate that Tweets with 2 or fewer hashtags are retweeted more often than those with 3 or more.
- If it isn’t original, cite the source of your material. Whether it is a famous quote, someone else’s tweet, or a link to an article… if it isn’t yours, clarify who it does come from.
- Engage with others. Have an online – and mostly private – conversation with others on twitter by starting a post with their handle.
- Take it offline. Connecting with people via Twitter is just the beginning. Tweets carry more weight when you take it offline and match a face to a handle. Plus having a conversation in real life is where the relationship grows. You never know who you’re talking to until you meet them and find out.
- There’s no such thing as private. Never, ever assume that a “private” conversation via any social media won’t be seen by someone else. Best Practice: Assume there are 3 other people in the room, or that someone is looking over your shoulder.
This should provide a good start. There’s more to know; Watching how others use it will provide some additional ideas.