Twitter 101

November 20, 2013
BY Patti Neumann

071913_patti_neumann_smIn light of the recent Initial Public Offering (IPO) a few weeks ago and many email requests to teach Twitter to individuals, here is a 101 tutorial on Twitter and how to tweet. Hopefully, you will see how its real-time strength works for businesses and creates opportunities to get messages out to the world.

You do not have to tweet. Facebook is the giant, but more than 224 million brands, people and businesses worldwide do utilize Twitter and many other social media networks — from Instagram to Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest, blogs and LinkedIn, among others — integrate the service into their “sharing” mechanisms. If you want your message, comment or opinion in front of the most powerful people and businesses, this is the best and most efficient way.

Wikipedia defines Twitter as “an online social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to send and read ‘tweets,’ which are text messages limited to 140 characters. Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through the website interface, SMS or a mobile device.”

All of the information must be concise and fit in a 140-digit, text-style message, so grammar is definitely not up to the English literature professor’s par.

To get started, go to twitter.com and create an account to set up your “handle.” Next, start following people. To “follow” someone on Twitter means to subscribe to their tweets; when they post something, it will appear on your main newsfeed for you to see.

News is often spread on Twitter through “retweets.” A retweet re-posts information originally tweeted by another Twitter user for all of your followers to see.

The @ sign is used to call out usernames in tweets, like this: Hello @Twitter! When a username is preceded by @, it becomes a link to that user’s Twitter profile. Mentioning another user in your tweet by including @ followed directly by their username is called a “mention.”

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. It was originally created as a way to categorize messages. The list on the left side of your newsfeed shows you all of the topics that are “trending” by compiling the most commonly used hashtags on the site at that point in time. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message, or in the trends list, shows you all other tweets marked with that keyword.

Businesses such as food companies or, better, mobile food truck businesses that change menu items and locations frequently, find Twitter especially useful. Local mobile food trucks in the area tweet their expected times and locations, for followers to see and stay updated. People choose to follow them because they can get real-time information.

Now script a tweet to @CITYPEEKpatti with the #citypeek #jewishtimes and we will follow you back! Did you know that youcan also follow @jewishtimes?

Patti Neumann, CEO/chief social thinker of Baltimore’s CITYPEEK.com, can be reached at patti@citypeek.com or CITYPEEK Patti on Facebook/twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram.

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