Twitter: Understanding the Basics

twitter basics

Twitter understanding the basics:

140 Characters – Write a twitter post called a “tweet” is under with a maximum of 140 characters. There are other services such as and others that truncate words for you. Anything over140 characters will not be shown within your tweet.

SIDENOTE: There has become a stronger and stronger call for more characters within twitter. Many Twitter supporting companies have allowed users to up their letter count but as it stands now –

“@” handles – are your name and the names of other tweeters. When you post something in reply or making comment to another tweet you can add their handle. Example: “I agree with @ACMECOMPANY you should always be consistent in what you say about your brand”

DM, or “direct message” – once you’ve acquired a base of followers you can tweet them directly. This means that your other followers will not see this conversation as long as your putting a “D” prior to your post to that tweeter. Example: “D @ACMECOMPANY Sure let’s meet to get on the same page for tomorrow’s presentation”

RT, or “retweet” – a retweet is when you read someone’s tweet and want to push it up to your follow base to see. A retweet is also acknowledgment (or credit) of where you got your information. Example: “RT @ACMECOMPANY – here’s a great resource for new tweeters

Trending Topics – this is an area on your twitter dashboard that shows you the most popular topics that are being discussed on twitter at that time.

“#” Hashtags – a hashtag is referencing a word or acronym that when people search for independent of knowing you they’ll pull up your tweet. Also hashtags are often used when many people are in the same vicinity talking about a specific topic; such as a seminars, conferences or a trade-show. Example: “I found @ACMECOMPANY at booth 123, they have great new products! #automotive #SEMA”

Tweetup – a tweetup is a time and location where tweeters meeting in real-life or “real time.” Tweetups are often used at seminars, conferences or a trade-show to meet after hours and discuss the days events.

Shortened URLs – When you add links to post they take up an incredible amount of characters dependent upon how long they are. Therefore there are a multitude of websites online that allow you to truncate your long URL’s down to a more manageable size.

Here are some of the more popular URL shorteners:

“Following” – When start an twitter account it’s best to go out on twitter and search other tweeters based on criteria that you feel would be suitable to follow and engage in conversation with. Example: search for “photography” you will be presented with a massive list of potential tweeters, read their tweets (make sure they tweet often as well, you want to follow active tweeters) and follow them. This will help you build a group of tweeters that is not only knowledgeable about topics you like or are involved with professionally, but often the return the favor by following you.

“Followers” – Followers are people that are following your tweets. There are a couple of important rules to follow when someone follows you. First, thank them for following you and secondly return the favor if you feel they would make a suitable contribution to your growing list of tweeter that you are following.

Your “Avatar” – This is your twitter profile picture
Include in your Bio and/or custom background the names (or @usernames) of the people twittering from your company account. It’s also a good idea to include additional contact info, like email addresses.

“Tweet Stream” – is the singular list of a given tweeter.

Best Practices for businesses who twitter:

Your twitter voice should be – authentic; positive; transparent and on brand.

Be mobile with your conversation – twitter not simply in the office but from your phone, while at seminars, conferences or trade-shows.

Engage in conversations – Tweeters take note of tweets that are “conversational” and those tweeting simply to ‘push’ their own messaging. Twitter is about interaction, discussion, sharing information and establishing/maintaining relationships. It’s no different than being in a room full of people, you’re not going to spend much time with someone that has a blatant sales agenda.

Establish yourself as the authority – Tweeting as the voice of authority within a category is always important. Be prepared to for people to ask you engaging questions about your company, product and services in order to define you as an authority.

Tweet often – Not tweeting is one of the biggest turn-offs to a follower. It’s much like a company that come out of the woodwork only when times are bad and they need help. Just like newsletters, emails, face-to-face discussions with your own clients – they expect that you are actively and aggressively trying to set the best example.

Check your facts before you tweet – just because you heard it from someone else doesn’t mean it true. It’s important that you get it right the first time.

Respond quickly and transparently – if someone reaches out to you with a DM or a public @ posting, you should try to respond as quickly as you can. “Transparency” is the truthful and open approach to messaging your company. In this day and age where facts can be check within seconds it’s best to make false claims rather than tell your follower that you’ll get them more information ASAP!

Tweet your RSS from your companies blog – Use Twitter as a conduit for people to connect with your other messaging. If you post a video to YouTube – tweet them to it. If you upload a new blog post –tweet them to it. If you launch a new website, service or want extra traction to your public relations – tweet them to it.

Tweet useful content – It’s always best to tweet and converse in conversation that is beneficial to our ‘audience’ of followers. Remember to keep on point of your brand. And while it’s good to be unique and authentic to stray to far from your conversational messaging.

Make sure your tweets provide some real value – You know better than we do what is valuable, but here are few examples to spark ideas:

  • Incentivize: Offer Twitter exclusive coupons or deals
  • Take people “behind the scenes”
  • Tweet about successes & failures
  • Recalls, renewal and warranty information
  • Post pictures from your offices, stores, new products, etc.
  • Share sneak peeks of projects or events in development

Self Monitoring & Optimization:

Search for your company name, product names or acronyms to learn if other tweeter are having good/bad experiences, and respond to them. Reach out, this is your chance to make rapid improvement with people engaging in your business in real-time.

Consider establishing multiple accounts to represent your company. This can be very effective for local audiences who are interested in very local information or for followers only interested in one specific product or service.

The number one rule is to listen to what others are telling you and adjust appropriately.

Here are just some examples of traffic–driving strategies:

  • Create a tool/application and promote your profile alongside it.
  • Buy a banner ad (Facebook or Google Ad Word) to target savvy audiences, link it to your profile.
  • Use Twitter as a tool for tech/customer support.
  • Organize a contests and coupons through your Twitter profile.
  • Include links to your twitter in your email/forum signatures.
  • Twitter on your blog/other blogs and include a link to your profile.
  • Connect your blog and other social media profiles to your Twitter page.
  • Learn to pitch Twitter influencers with articles relevant to their interest.
  • Explicitly ask another user to recommend your profile or exchange recommendations.

Twitter Applications:
Top 21 Twitter Clients (According To TwitStat)

Twitter Real-World Business Case Studies:

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