A guest post by the multi-talented Ashley Faulkes: I have gotten to know Ashley through the LinkedIn group Bloggers Helping Bloggers. After discussing a few web topics, we agreed a post on Twitter for Beginners would be of great use to those small business people just starting out in social media. Thank you, Ashley! (introductory note by Leora)
Social Media is a powerful tool for the modern small business. And Twitter is one of the most important ones.
Don’t be intimidated by Twitter. Grab it by the horns and get on for the ride.
To make the ride as easy as possible, I have created this guide for beginners to help understand how to create an account, and get started with Tweets and Followers.
Create an account
Creating an account on Twitter is quite easy. They don’t require much information, just your name, email and a password.
But once you have an account there are a few things to consider.
Creating your Twitter name
When you use twitter, you need a username. This is not always your full name, so you need to come up with something that works for you.
A Twitter name:
- is limited to 15 characters including letters, numbers and underscore (ie. “_”).
- should be recognisable (ie. Either your name as one word, your brand/company name etc).
** Funny names are ok if you are not worried about branding or customers, otherwise think about it seriously
Filling out your profile
Once you have your username, update your user profile and add the following so people know a little about you or your company.
Note: this is under the Me menu at the top. Then Click on the top right “edit” to add the following information
- Photo (your main photo or logo)
- Header (the image behind your photo if you want one)
- Name (should be filled in already)
- Location (if you want people to know where you are)
- Website (your website URL)
- Bio (a description of you, your interests or your company and what it does/sells)
** The most important are the name, photo and bio.
You can also choose from Twitter’s default background images to make your homepage look a bit more stylish. Or upload your own.
With a complete account, now you are ready to tweet!
Before you head off and start tweeting there are a few things that are helpful to understand.
The @ Symbol
When sending a tweet to someone, people’s names start with an @ symbol.
For example, your friend John Smith, might have the twitter name johnsmith (although that name is probably taken already!!).
And when you tweet and want to mention him you would write
Eg. I was just visiting my friend @johnsmith on the weekend.
The # Symbol (and Hashtags)
Hashtags as they are called, are groupings or topics within Twitter.
Add them to your Tweet when you want it to be found in or to be part of this topic.
These are useful because people doing a search on twitter will see your tweet under this tag when they search for that word.
You can place these anywhere in the tweet, but I find it more useful at the end where it does not disturb the main text.
Eg. #socialmedia, #2012olympics, #justinbeber
Types of tweets
Sending a tweet is very simple, but it can sometimes be more complicated than you realise.
So before you make a mistake and send the wrong person a message or include the wrong people, take a look at these examples.
Personal (Private) Message
If you really want to send a private message to the person via Twitter, this is how you do it:
Eg. D johnsmith this is my personal message to you
Note: It is the D that is important at the start of the tweet
Who sees this?
- Just you and them
Reply or Semi-private Tweet
If you wish to send a message to someone, include there name at the start of the Tweet. This is the default when you hit “reply” in twitter which is below the tweet.
Eg. @johnsmith hope you are having a great day
Who sees this?
- You & them
- and all people who follow you & them (so it is not private, it’s kinda private)
- So if you have followers that don’t know(follow) them too, they won’t see it
** Beware, johnsmith will only see this reply if he is following you
If you put the @johnsmith later in the message (anywhere but the first character), even more people will see the message
Eg. Did you see this message @johnsmith
Or .@johnsmith did you see this message (note the dot at the start)
Or hey @johnsmith did you see this message
Who sees this?
- You and them
- All your followers
- All their followers
Beware the Twitter Limit
There is a character limit of 140 on Twitter. In the message box there is a number at the bottom that goes down as you type, this is how many characters you have left. All characters are included eg. Links, hashtags, people.
If you find someone’s tweet interesting and you think they are worthy of sharing to your followers, this is when you retweet.
Below the actual tweet, is a button you can use to retweet. Just move your mouse over the tweet and you will see it.
The original tweeter’s name is usually added to the end so they know how much you like their tweet.
Double check you have not gone over the twitter limit and click Retweet.
Following and Followers
So who are these mysterious people. The following and the followers. Sounds a bit like a cult?
Your followers are people who are interested in what you are tweeting, and your tweets appear in their Timeline (this is a list of tweets that appears when you login to twitter).
Vice versa: you follow people who’s tweets you are interested in, and their tweets will appear in your Timeline.
But how do you find these people?
In the beginning who might want to search for people you know in the Twitter Search or simply ask people you know what their twitter name is?
Beyond that you can use the #Discover menu of twitter to find people with similar interests, find friends via your email accounts etc.
So now you
- have a twitter account
- know how to find followers
- how to properly address people
- add hashtags to categorize your tweets
There is of course a lot more to Twitter, but first get comfortable with this and then check out some more info on sites such as these: