Twitter for beginners

Twitter is a fast paced social networking and information platform that is considered micro blogging. It’s growing at a rate of more than 25 per cent users per year. So really, what are you waiting for?

Twitter is, perhaps, my favourite medium. I love the active yet succinct conversational aspect of it. I have found that it encourages people to be extra creative to get their message across, as there is a limit of 280 characters per tweet (a short message). Tweets have a very short life span—generally up to a few minutes, maybe more if you’re lucky. So the content really does have to be timely and engaging in order to catch someone’s attention.

It’s also really portable—you can add it to your smart phone or tablet and tweet when you are on the go or out at an event. It differs from Facebook in that it has a shorter shelf life, so you can tweet more often with less information. Facebook is slightly more static in that you will want to reduce your posts to a couple per day.

Once you have created a Twitter account, you can post tweets that anyone can read and reply to. The exception is that you can choose to have your account set on private and only people who “follow” you can see what you tweet. Your followers will see your tweets displayed in their timeline. A timeline is a column of live tweets from everyone you follow (or what they have “retweeted”).

You can have as many Twitter accounts as you would like and they can all be easily accessed from your smart phone.

Getting started with Twitter

Twitter has such a good getting started guide that there is no point me reinventing the wheel. You can also read about Twitter for business.

Twitter terms

Here are some basic terms to get you familiar with Twitter.

Retweet

A retweet [RT] is when you share someone else’s tweet. There is a special function in Twitter that makes this effortlessly possible.

A RT is like a little magic gift from the Twitter Gods. A person may retweet you which means all their followers will see your tweet and know that you exist. Essentially, if someone retweets you, they are saying ‘hey, take a look at this’ (hopefully for the right reasons). If people like what you are saying, find your information useful and topical, they may retweet you.

Retweet others. Remember that retweeting is saying to your followers ‘hey, look at this’, so only retweet things that you want your followers to look at and that mildly associate with you.

Tip: the best time for getting retweets is generally very late evening.

Tweets containing images garner more interest and retweets than not (some statistics even suggest up to fifty per cent more!) Now Twitter has a multiple image upload option, so you can display many images in the one tweet. Uploading your images straight to Twitter will increase their chances of a retweet or getting noticed as opposed to linking via Instagram, Twitpic or Facebook.

Followers

Like Facebook, you want to increase your followers (known as ‘likers’ on Facebook) because the more people that sight your message, the wider your potential sales group is going to be. The people that you follow will also have valuable information, share interesting links to articles, blogs and websites and holdentertaining and stimulating conversations. The best part? You don’t even have to leave your bed!

Tip: follow people that you want to follow you back.

Handle

A handle is your username. It’s the name that sits at the end of the “@” symbol that people will identify and interact with and search for you with. It is all one word and can contain numerals, letters and the underscore symbol.

Choose a handle that relates to your business and that people will automatically know is associated with your business. For example, if your business name is Spirit Heaven, see if the handle @spiritheaven is available. (It’s not—I’ve checked). You may have to come up with a few closely-related alternatives:

  • Spirheaven
  • Spirit_heaven
  • Spiritheaven_Adelaide

Hashtag

A hashtag is a noun for a topic talked about on social media— particularly utilised by Twitter—that is preceded by a hashtag symbol to make it searchable within the social media platform. It’s a quick way of finding other users that are interacting about the same topic. It’s more than forgivable to let proper grammar and spelling go for the sake of a good hashtag.

To make your hashtag effective keep it as short as possible, which may mean using abbreviations, skipping some words or not using spaces. Do a quick hashtag search before using one to see that you are keeping it consistent with others.

Tip: keep the hashtag readable, succinct and clear.

Here are some hashtags that will help you connect with your desired community that you can use intermittently throughout your tweets:

  • your city e.g.,#sydney
  • your services/products e.g. #massage #healing#yoga
  • people e.g. #rumi#ellendegeneres
  • your events e.g. #spiritday#psychicexpo
  • regular Twitter favourites e.g. #ff#askTwitter
  • activities e.g.#amwriting
  • campaigns e.g.#icebucketchallenge

Remember: don’t be hasty and jump onto a hashtag that has absolutely no relevance to your tweet. You’ll just look silly and lose respect.

A trending hashtag will generally have a lifespan of about twenty four hours this relates to current affairs and hot topic news or entertainment items, whereas locations and activities have an ongoing presence.

Trending topics

Twitter collates a list of topics that are talked about the most on Twitter.

Think the trending topic doesn’t apply to you? Think creatively! Maybe the topic is Ellen DeGeneres. Why not do your research and tweet this:

Did you know that @EllenDegeneres gets four #massages a week?

Sure, I just completely made that up but with a little bit of a Google search you could find some relevant facts that will enable you to jump on the trending topic bandwagon, making you a part of the biggest conversation in the world, thus making you more noticeable and searchable.

Trends Map will show you a map of where you are and what is trending, using a word cloud (the bigger the word, the more it is trending).

Direct messages

A direct message (or DM) is otherwise known as a privatetweet, between someone you follow and who also follows you. Auto DMs look amateur and “spammy”. I suggest giving auto DMs the flick and engaging people in conversationinstead.

Twitter bio

Include a succinct bio on your Twitter profile. Don’t leave it blank and keep people guessing. Use key words and utilise (but don’t overuse) the hashtag function. Include industry relevant keywords, such as blogging, yoga, dietician etc.

Putting a location is important, particularly if a lot of your business is in person. List all your websites and what you do there.

Here’s an example of one of my Twitter bios:

@jones_writer

Copywriter + content writer + marketer + creative writer + author. Adelaide.

Image

Make sure you put an image as your avatar. Don’t leave it as the default “egg”; people will assume that you are a “spambot”.

Show them you are a real person and someone to connect to. Make your headshot clear and visible. People love to know who they are conversing with. A happy headshot or logo is ideal.

In your header picture (the wider one that sits behind your profile picture) you can include a picture of your logo, a product or one of your images. Remember to keep your branding (your look and feel) consistent.

Tip: don’t be fooled by the seemingly impersonal approach that social media offers, I have met a lot of fantastic people on Twitter.

Tweet structure

Your very brief sentence goes first, followed by any relevant links (you can use a service called Bitly to shorten website links for aesthetic and space saving reasons) and then leave relevant hashtags until the end of the tweet.

Tip: if you’re linking to an external page such as your website, blog or Facebook ensure you have a sentence that entices readers to click!


Why not get a professional freelance copywriter to write your tweets?

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