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Marketing / Social media

Chirpy advice: Twitter tips for beginners

If you've been reluctant to try Twitter because it seems like everyone is communicating in another language, don't worry, it is possible to break the code.

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Are you ready to join the millions of people who network and promote their businesses on Twitter? Great! Head over to Twitter and get yourself an account.

Here we go!

What is a tweet?

A tweet is the message you compose and send on Twitter. It can be a maximum of 140 characters, yep, including spaces. To get your message across within the set limit, use abbreviations, symbols and other shortcuts – just make sure people can understand your message, or there’s no point.

How to compose a tweet

Click on the icon of a quill at the top right of your Twitter page, and type your message into the box.

What is the @ symbol used for?

If you want to direct your tweet to someone in particular, include the @ symbol followed by the person’s username. Unlike other social media you can send a tweet to anyone as long as you know their username (aka handle). They don’t need to be following you too.

"It can take a while to get going but once you've hit 100 followers, people seem to find you, and you don't have to work as hard to get each follower."

Example

Tweet: @FlyingSoloAu When are you coming to Queensland?

If you’d like to send out a tweet to all of your followers, just leave off the @username.

How to reply to a tweet

Just hit the reply button and compose your tweet. It will automatically include the @username/s that the tweet will be returned to.

Example

Reply from FS: @LogiQA Love to. Will just bring a few friends. How big is your BBQ?

Reply from me: Very funny @FlyingSoloAu

If you want more than just the recipient to see the tweet, make sure the ‘@username’ isn’t at the start of the tweet.

Want more articles like this? Check out the social media section.

Direct messaging

You can send direct messages to people who follow you. These messages are only seen by the recipient. They should definitely not be used for spam.

To send a direct message, click the envelope icon in the top right of the screen.

Retweets

If you’d like to share a tweet that you’ve seen in your feed (the list of tweets from everyone you are following), this is called a retweet. There are two main ways you can do this. You can choose the retweet option (two arrows chasing each other) and it will send out the tweet exactly as it appears.

Or, if you’d like to add a comment before you retweet, you can use the retweet-quote option (app only). It is convention that you include ‘RT’ or ‘via’ in the tweet to acknowledge the person who originally sent it.

Example

Retweet: Great article 😉 RT @FlyingSoloAu Chirpy advice: Twitter for beginners (link)

If you are using your computer, copy the tweet you want to share, compose a new tweet and paste it in. Again, make sure you add the ‘RT’ and tweet the author’s username to show that it’s a retweet.

Hashtags #

You can happily use Twitter without using hashtags, but they are useful. Hashtags help to group together tweets about a particular topic. They are used at events so that attendees can interact with others tweeting at or about the event, e.g. #FSLive. They are essential for Twitter chats so that participants can follow the flow of tweets.

If you are going to use a hashtag it’s a good idea to do a quick search to see if it’s already being used for something else. Just go to the search box at the top of the screen, type in your desired hashtag and see what comes up.

There was a case a few years ago where a bakery used #notguilty to promote a pastry, but that hashtag was being used for a murder trial verdict. Awkward and not good for business!

Twitter tip: Watch and learn

So now you are ready to jump in! Or are you? If you were attending a business networking event for the first time, would you race up to the microphone and start selling? Probably not.

Think of Twitter the same way. When you first join, find your friends or existing business connections and follow them. Learn from how they interact; this way you’ll find your feet and hopefully avoid any regrettable situations.

How to grow your followers as a newbie

After you’ve followed your friends and existing business connections:

  • Connect with businesses you interact with on forums like Flying Solo.
  • If you read a tweet you like, follow the person who wrote it.
  • RT or favourite (click on the star) of a liked tweet. This will let the sender know that you liked their tweet, and may prompt them to follow you. ‘Favouriting’ a tweet also adds it to your favourites list so that you can view or retweet it in the future.
  • If one of your tweets is favourited or retweeted, say ‘thank you’, it can help open up conversations, which often leads to follows, and more importantly, to build new relationships.

It can take a while to get going but once you’ve hit 100 followers, people seem to find you, and you don’t have to work as hard to get each follower.

You’ve now got all the information you need to make a smooth debut on Twitter. No excuses.

What tips do you have for Twitter beginners? Or do you have any further questions?

Mary Gardam

is the Principal Quality Advisor at LogiQA. She has held a number of senior quality roles but is now enjoying introducing small business to the benefits of business systems. Mary also lectures in Quality Systems at Griffith University.

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