When it comes to twitter, people can be divided into three groups; those who use it constantly for work and pleasure because they enjoy it and get a lot from what it offers, (and who also give a lot by helping others) those who send out tweets for promotion, but don’t really interact in the social, helpful way that it was intended to be used in and those who say ‘I signed up and I have an account…I think.”
I have been in all three of these categories. I knew how it worked. I knew it’s benefits for promotion and I had an account. I had gone so far as to create an instructional video on how to use twitter before I ever really used it in the way it’s intended myself! It was only over the course of a wonderfully quiet, two week long Christmas holiday one year, that I actually ‘got into’ Twitter. So while these tips will help you to learn how to use it technically, it should also help to make it enjoyable to use. I see this as crucially important because social is an area where you really get out of it what you put in.
1. Sign Up
Signing up for an account is easy, Twitter will guide you through the basic steps and you can begin the process at Twitter.com.
2. Exploring the app on desktop and mobile
- When using twitter on a laptop or desktop computer, you’ll see a menu in the top left of your screen that lists – Home, Connect, Discover & Me.
- Home will show you, in chronological order, the things people you follow on twitter have said today. You can view more by scrolling down.
- Connect is where you find out if someone has said something to you or about you on twitter, if the person has included your ‘twitter handle’ – your username with the ‘at symbol’ directly before it. If someone has ‘mentioned’ you in this way, a little blue, dot or light will appear under the word ‘Connect’. This is twitters way of notifying you that it’s there.
- When you click on ‘Connect’ it will list all the tweets that have mentioned you and other activity I’ll explain later on. It’s important to note that these messages are visible to the general public. There are ways to send and receive private messages, which I’ll detail later.
- The Discover section helps you find tweets on particular subjects or to find out what’s being most talked about today. The ‘hashtag’ symbol was a way to categorise tweets in the early days of twitter. For example, people would add #fashion onto the end of a tweet about fashion. Today, though the hashtag is still used, you can also search by words or phrases that aren’t especially marked or denoted. Simply searching the word ‘fashion’ or ‘summer fashion’ will bring up tweets that use that word or phrase.
- Finally the ‘Me’ section. This simply shows you your profile – the part of your account that other will see.
In the top right hand corner, you’ll see a little blue box with with what looks like a feather pen on it. This is your ‘compose a tweet’ button. When you click this, a pop up appears where you type your 140 characters. This message will be public and you can include a link, photos and someone’s twitter handle if you’d like them to be notified of the tweet. For example, “Was really great to meet @username at XYZconference yesterday.” ‘@username’ will then be notified of the tweet so that they can respond.
4. Private Messages
Also in the top right hand corner is the ‘settings’ button – this is in the form of a wheel icon. When you click this, you’ll get a drop down menu that includes a ‘Direct Messages’ option. This is where you can check for private messages and also send private messages from. In order to send a private message, the other user must be following you. This is to prevent spammy private messages. If you have a direct message waiting to be read, a little blue dot wil appear underneath ‘Me’ in the top left menu.
5. Following & Followers
When you find someone that you wish to ‘follow’, simply visit their profile by clicking on their username and click the ‘Follow’ button with the twitter icon on it. From then on, this users tweets will appear in your home feed and they will have the ability to private message you if they wish to do so. If you don’t want their tweets in your feed anymore, simply go to the same button, which will now offer the option to ‘Unfollow’. This area also lists the numer of tweets this user has sent out. By clicking on that number, you can scroll back through all their tweets chronologically. This can be great fun on the account of someone funny and very useful for research if someone often shares links to resources you are interested in.
Trends can be fun to keep an eye on. They are alongside your home feed, on the left hand side. These are the top ten most talked about things on twitter at that very moment and you can set it geographically too. If you click ‘Change’ you can set your country, region or city, so you see trends most applicable to your area. With the natural Irish sense of humour, having your trends set to Ireland can be great fun. To see all the tweets from one of these trends, simply click the trend name.
7. Find Great Twitter Users
This is one of the most important parts of making twitter fun and useful to you. It takes time to gradually build up a list of people you follow that mean your news feed is full of little tweets that you love to read, rather than just a lot of what looks like noise. The best way to do this to begin with is to try some Google searches for users specific to things you’re interested in. You’ll find plenty of lists such as ‘Top comedians to follow on twitter’ or ’10 Best Business Founders to Follow’ etc. Try following some that look like they’ll be of interest. More importantly, if you find that all of one users tweet are boring, unhelpful or promoting things you aren’t interested in, go to their account and hit ‘unfollow’. Twitter is no good if your news feed has more filler than killer.
8. Tweet in the Language you’re targeting
If you’re targeting Russian customers and followers, tweet in their language and use relevant hashtags (categorisation within twitter) that apply to them or that they already use. This helps you become easier to find, understand, trust and follow! Many online and digital markets forget about the multiple non-English speaking markets available to those companies operating online. Translation companies aid the localisation not just of your website, but also of your social marketing, interactions and customer service/customer care.
9. Favourite, Retweet and Reply
When you hover your mouse over a tweet, you’ll see some symbols that allow you to reply to a tweet, mark it as a favourite or retweet it.
Replying includes the twitter handle of anyone mentioned in that tweet including the person who wrote it and allows you the remaining character for a response. If you can help out with a query, or have an insight to share, hit reply.
Marking a tweet as a favourite adds this tweet to your ‘Favourites’ list, which can be found through your twitter profile page. It’s a good way to keep a record of links or info you may want to come back to later. It also lets that tweeter know you appreciated their message – this is positive and encouraging.
Retweeting takes a tweet and re-shares it with all of your followers. For example if you follow the user @username, but your followers don’t in turn follow them, what they tweet will be seen by you, but not by your followers. When you retweet, all of your followers now see this user’s tweet too. It’s great to retweet to help people out or share something that was useful to you.