Beginner’s Guide to Twitter
By Cara Sutra
Twitter is a fantastic FREE way to reach potentially millions of people’s eyeballs – with YOUR words. I hope you all find this beginner’s guide to Twitter useful. It’s certainly a great social media platform for marketing! But be wary – be over zealous on the marketing and not enough on the effervescent twitter personality and people will get bored and ‘unfollow’ you – in the worst case they’ll start to complain (and we all know complaints spread much faster than compliments!). It’s all like a big game of Sims, or Theme Twitter…. They’re your people, look after them, entertain them, don’t depress them – then when they love you, use that to your advantage to SELL SELL SELL. Ha!
Tweets are limited to 140 characters. It’s called tweeting for a reason, keep it brief, sharp, witty, acerbic etc. Conversations are for MSN – and if you like to write journals then start a blog.
Trending topics show you what’s hot on Twitter. Look to the list on the right hand side, you can select international trending topics, or opt for just the country of your choice. I go for UK only trending topics. I can use what’s in that list to draw people to my twitter, get them to talk to me, follow me and create awareness of my personality on twitter. Use trending topics about the news to gain publicity, or silly/funny ones to entertain and gain audience that way.
Use hashtags to make a word (or string of words without spaces) instantly clickable in your tweet. This has various impacts, people searching for an already used and popular ‘hashtag’ will see your tweet come up in the search, people can click on your hashtag and see all tweets with that same hashtag in it and you can also make up your own hashtags for comedic effect (oft done on twitter, eg: ‘Oh my god someone just looked at me weird on a bus #scarystalkertypes’) Popular hashtags in use include #fail #lesbian #sex #orgasm #sextoys #sale #offers etc.
NB There are Twitter based ‘magazines’ that will find hashtags in tweets and feature what you have put in that tweet, for instance, if I tweet so and so, 50% off today only [insert link here] #offers – the twitter magazine account for the #offers hashtag may find me and feature my link in their webmag – which is then retweeted (see retweeting section) possibly ‘facebooked’ and sent viral, reaching even more people.
Tagging people in a tweet
To mention or ‘tag’ someone in a tweet, you need to use the @ sign directly before their Twitter name. If you do this at the start of the tweet you are talking ‘to’ that person, if you mention them in the middle you are mentioning them. You can tweet ‘to’ someone else on twitter and ‘mention’ someone else in the middle of the tweet, or even ‘cc’ someone at the end of a tweet so they see it too.
Retweeting means to publish to your own twitterfeed, a tweet that someone else has tweeted. To do this, simply click the retweet button under someone’s tweet. If the person you are following has selected to make their tweets private, you won’t see this option. Instead you will have to manually type a new tweet, starting ‘RT’ and then @[the person’s twittername] then copy and paste their tweet into yours, and tweet it, so it looks like a RT (retweet).
If you want to just be a bit of a social whore, you can think up something witty and reach (hopefully) zillions of peoples (tweeps) by stating something like…. ‘RT if you hate Monday mornings but love coffee’ and hopefully everyone will then surge to click RT, you’ll be in all their twitter feeds and take the world of Twitter by forceful storm. That’s the plan anyway.
(quoting/talking to someone in that tweet all at once)
If you want to be clever, you can opt to show all your followers the great stuff someone said at you, and talk all in the same tweet. Simply copy and paste their tweet, stick ‘RT’ at the start, then at the end of what they said, stick a < sign then simply type your lil reply. Your followers will see what they said and what you said back! Awesome!
To reply to someone’s tweet, simply click reply. Then type what you want to say to them after where it says their twitter name.
Find out what everyone has been saying about you, to you and all that kinda thing in the ‘mentions’ area. This is denoted by the @ symbol at the head of your twitter feed. Check this constantly so you know who to talk back to, who’s nice or nasty about you and all the lastest buzz about YOU.
Using the @ sign
When you use the @ sign to tag, mention or reply to someone in a tweet, PLEASE make sure you put a space before it but NOT after it. It should read ‘I think @TheCaraSutra should buy more shoes’, NOT ‘I think@TheCaraSutra should buy more shoes’ OR ‘I think @ TheCaraSutra should buy more shoes’. If you type it wrong, the person will NOT be tagged correctly and they won’t see your tweet. This could lead to people thinking you’re ignoring them, missed marketing opportunities, nuclear explosions… well. You never know. Also, some annoying tweeps (that’s twitter speak for peoples on twitter) change their twitter name rather often. Make sure you know what your mates are actually called before you tweet to @jamesjohnson not @newjamesjohnny.
Follow backs (#followback)
This is a pile of poo, in my opinion. However, when you first begin a Twitter account, it does you well to gain a large following by er, following every Tom, Dick and @suckmycock. Once you have loads of people you’re either following or that are following you, PRUNE the people you follow. It does you well to make sure your twitter feed is not bunged up with every ‘oh my god those beans on toast were TOTALLY awesome’ or ‘jesus the neighbours make me suicidal’. Only follow the people you WANT to follow and don’t let anyone bully, threaten or tell you any different. ‘follow for a follow’ is pointless. It’s just number bumping and neither one of you probably has any interest in what the other has to tweet. Make your twitter efficient, by following those relevant to your interests and needs. You’re the important one, make people want to follow YOU.
If someone annoys, upsets, harasses or otherwise takes a dump all over your twitter, simply click ‘unfollow’ on their profile. Ta-dah! They are OUT of here. If you want to stop them being able to follow you, just click block. People sometimes complain that in my pruning sessions I have ‘unfollowed’ them (whine, whine). I tend to tell them to be more interesting in future and I’ll reconsider.
Direct Messages (DMs)
You can send people that follow you, a Direct Message. You cannot send DMs to people that don’t follow you (this cuts down on abuse etc).
Private Twitter Feeds
Some people choose to make their twitter feeds private (not great for marketing, but personal accs do this sometimes). Their tweets will only be visible to people they allow to follow them. You have to send a follow request in order to see their tweets.
If you want to stick a link into a tweet, it makes sense to use an URL shortening service. I like bit.ly, it’s free, you can customise them and it keeps track of old shortened tweets too. Also, people can’t tell what you’re linking to til they click it, so it’s easier to manipulate them into hitting ‘click’ and getting them to land on the (hopefully) money making page of your choice.
Linking from other social profile sites
Loads of social sites are interlinked now, you could spend a week sorting it out, and I advise you do set some time aside to sort out an online profile/character that will be your main socialling image. If it’s the real you, great. If it’s an identity of your choice, stick to the one across all the sites you have socially profiles on. You can link your Twitter to Facebook, Tumblr (handy for entertaining pics that people can ‘re-tumblr’ and it links to your Twitter name), Yfrog (upload photos from your mobile esp if you have an iPhone) and a zillion other sites.
Companies on Twitter use RT (retweeting) competitions to increase visibility of their brand/Twitter account/get more followers to see their tweets. If you enter these competitions by RT’ing the said tweet, all your followers see that you have stated their tweet. They too may choose to then follow that company, enter the competition, etc. If you enter a RT competition make sure the comp is open to residents of your country.
If you are a company running a RT competition, you need to ensure that the tweet you are asking people to RT includes: WHAT you can win (name and bit.ly link), HOW you win it (RT, or sometimes better RT & follow!), WHEN it ends.
Make sure the winner you select lives in a country you send to! Also when announcing the winner, ask them to DM you their details (name & address) but ensure you also then follow that person (otherwise they can’t DM you).
All the best people on Twitter (!) know about follower ratio. If you follow 1000 people but have 2 people following you, chances are you live alone (or with your cat) and eat out of tins warmed by candlelight. If you have 3000 people following you but only follow 10, you’re a mega superstar with possibly a legion of fans right at this moment camped outside your house waiting to gaze upon your radiant loveliness as you walk past the window. If you follow and are followed by about the same amount, you’re either a ‘norm’ or you did that silly ‘follow back’ thing and Twitter has become meaningless and pointless.
You want to be a star! Hopefully this will grow by itself but being witty and pruning often can help shape your ratio into something impressive and spectacular.
You can choose a custom picture for your background on twitter – maybe something related to what you tweet about, your site, etc. You can also write a short bio – I would advise it contains a link (even if you have to bit.ly it) to the site you are most trying to promote via Twitter, either a company or your personal one. Bios are great to give people a short description of who you are and what you’re about in a short, funny snippet and it can often be the final decision maker for people thinking of following you.
Tweet often, be funny and entertaining, up to date, but not distant either. Be real – people need to know you’re a person not a logo, brand or company. Have pink laundry days, bad Monday mornings, get out of bed late, have bad hair days – but draw the line at a week’s worth of wrist slitting misery – no one wants to read about it, similarly no one wants to read about how dreamy your life is jetting to work in your private jet with your favourite rock star before being mani and pedicured by Brad Pitt then sleeping in Agent Provocateur and Chanel every night.
PS Tweet most things! Be raw, be passionate, Tweet from your phone. The key is to Tweet often – once a week is not enough for most things, especially not Twitter! I hope you’ve enjoyed and found this beginner’s guide to Twitter helpful.
Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter here too. Thanks!
~hugs~ and tweets ….