Twitter’s been around since 2006. Almost a decade later tweeting has become second nature. Most of us have forgotten the rules, and many more never learned them. So, let’s do the world a solid, re-familiarize ourselves with the basics of Twitter.
Why 140 characters?
For those of you lucky enough to be born somewhere between the release of Rocky and Back to the Future Part II might remember SMS text messages. They’re still around, but this was of course before text messages were unlimited and overages would likely cost you your first born, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. 140 characters is all an SMS could be.
What can be said about the hashtag? They’ve been around since the 70’s, but for Twitter they are simply, “Twitter Groupings.”1
Hashtags allow millions of tweets to be collected and grouped by a single specific signifier. Making for easier and more specific searching, better SEO results for you and a wider audience reach for your company.
A few tips to keep in mind when using hashtags:
- Keep it simple. Don’t get too obscure, unless your intended audience is extremely niche.
- Take advantage of the hashtag of the day — #MotivationMonday, #TipTuesday, #WednesdayWisdom, #ThrowbackThursday, #FollowFriday — to name a few.
- You might also take advantage of sites like Hashtags.org to keep track of what’s popular. Chances are you can make something work for your audience and start to engage new followers.
Twitter as a Social Experience
The Twitter platform provides a space for discussion, criticism, friendly catching up, selling products and services, providing technical support (more popular than ever as of late) and most importantly an almost real-time updating service for news, television, politics, the list goes on.
It stands to reason that the more you tweet, the more people you follow, the more people follow you, and the more you interact with your audience and others, the larger the reach you’ll have. And if you want to take advantage of the increased spending, dedicated digital attention span and growing crowd-sourced buying habits, then by all means, get on board; it’s a good train.
Retweet, Modified Tweet and Quoted Tweet
General engagement help engage your audience by providing valuable curated content as well as a call for additional sharing and retweeting.
A retweet allows you to do exactly what it sounds like, retweet an existing tweet. Simple, cut and dry. No modification allowed.
Sometimes you need to expand on that tweet. Maybe you need to explain to your audience why you’re retweeting. This is where a quoted tweet comes in handy.
What if the original tweet was already 140 characters? This is where a modified tweet or MT can come in handy. You still want to give credit to the originator, but only pull out the important parts. Always give the originator credit.
The dos and don’ts
DO make sure that you have a reason for tweeting, be it a business plan or a marketing strategy or a general theme. People come to your Twitter account for a reason, and if that reason changes or is inconsistent you are more likely to be unfollowed.
DON’T use tweet expanders like http://tweet-expander.com/. It takes people out of the site or app, and that’s not a great way to keep people engaged.
By now I’m sure you’re a Twitter pro, or at least better prepared for the journey ahead. Twitter is more important than ever as the pace of life and information starts to steadily speed up. Making sure information is transferring hands clearly and cleanly and that you’re not taking advantage of the system is just one step forward to a better 2015, one tweet at a time.
1. Phrase coined by Stowe Boyd in 2007.