Are you new to Twitter? A Beginner’s Guide
How many Twitter users are there?
Twitter has been around since 2006. Tweets, @ and hashtags have become part of many people’s daily routine. There are 30million + active Twitter accounts in the UK alone.
Why use Twitter?
It’s almost an assumption that everyone is familiar with what Twitter offers, but there are still plenty of people who are mystified, curious or don’t see the point. Every month there are people who get online for the first time, maybe with a tablet such as an iPad or a smartphone.
Twitter is one of those things you can easily enjoy on a smartphone if you have one, in an idle moment, to keep you entertained and informed. If you don’t have a laptop or spend time on the internet generally, you could see this as ‘dabbling’ in the social media phenomenon. Maybe you could ask someone to help you set up an account, then try a few things out?
Alternatively, you could just go for a more traditional correspondence method with these gorgeous hand stamped bird design greetings cards pictured above! (Declaration of interest – available now from Bloomfield & Rolfe – my sister and friend’s company!)
Learn Twitter basics by using it!
Understanding it is largely a matter of using it, to find out for yourself how it works, although there are plenty of good articles and video tutorials online to help you (see below). Imagine you are sitting in a tree listening to all the others ‘tweeting’ – with over 200million active tweeters that is a lot of noise! Luckily the idea of Twitter is that you only subscribe to the tweets of the people or organisations you choose.
Twitter users share short snappy sentences around subjects or people they are interested in. You ‘subscribe’ to someone else’s Tweets by ‘following them’.
Then you get updates from all those you follow, in one long list. It’s fantastic if you have a specific interest or community. You can be kept up-to-date on news, events, new releases, new products. And of course businesses love it, they use it as a promotional tool.
Keeping Twitter under control
It’s a very immediate tool (it’s all about news and updates), and beware – you may well find it addictive. Every time you sign in, there’s a lot of chatter to catch up on. With a smartphone you have access to it on the move as well.
If you want to keep different areas of interest in different ‘feeds’ you can create lists to segregate them – you can make your lists either public or private. If you end up following hundreds of people, just the one feed can become too unwieldy, meaning you may miss something interesting unless you check in regularly.
Some Twitter Basic Pointers
- A Tweet is a message, comment, announcement, opinion, a link to a webpage or photo or video in 140 characters or less. It is generally topical – ie. What’s happening right now or what have you just heard about? If you have an account, you can Tweet.
- Everyone with an account has a profile where you briefly describe yourself, and where others can see everything you Tweet in one place. Choose a short ‘handle’ if possible, add a short biography, and add a photo which allows people to recognise you. The more info you give just adds interest for people thinking about following you.
- The challenge is getting your message short enough to fit! For some people, this takes some getting used to. There are ‘url shortening’ services such as http://bit.ly you can use when you include a web address which are usually too long to fit.
- You ‘follow’ other people by clicking their ‘Follow’ link, once you’ve built up a few people to follow you will see anything they Tweet, aggregated together in your Twitter Feed.
- Your Twitter ‘handle’ is your username, eg. @seajardigital and can also be used to find your Twitter webpage – http://twitter.com/seajardigital
- Hashtags are used as a way of ‘categorising’ content by topic. Anyone can invent a hashtag, then publicise it and it may take off with others using it. When a hashtag is really popular it is known as ‘trending’.
- You can search for people’s tweets or things about particular topics by hashtag – guess one eg. #cherries or #nakedgardening and see what you find!
- You can have fun ‘retweeting’ things you like or want to share. Some people never actually tweet themselves, but pass on others’ tweets to their own followers.
- Twitter ‘mentions’ are when you include someone else’s handle in your tweet eg.
Great lunch @bistroonthebeach – prawn avocado salad special – with @jalosp . Confusingly, if you put the handle at the beginning of the tweet, it’s only seen by them, and those who follow both of you.
- You can include a picture or photo in a tweet quite easily, see how to in the Twitter Help Centre.
Here are some more online Twitter Beginner’s Guides you may find useful:
- http://www.hashtags.org/platforms/twitter/twitter-for-beginners-basic-guidelines-before-you-start/ (which has a various links to other posts about aspects of using twitter and hashtags)
Seajar Digital now offers social media services for companies or individuals, helping them set up accounts and giving them ideas to get them going. I’m also happy looking after your feed for you if required.
Do get in touch for more information about how I can help you or your organisation.