Twitter 101 – Tweeting Basics

April 17, 2012 How-Tos and Tips, Social Channels

Here’s a fast track guide to getting along with Twitter and Tweeters!   Its a gentle guide for the emerging best practices.

Why Use Twitter

There are many reasons to use Twitter, but here are my top three.

  • Branding. The more others refer to you or “retweet” what you tweet, the greater your reach. Extend your brand by tweeting “retweetable” tweets.
  • Communications. Twitter can be a powerful communications tool, particularly because of its potential to reach not just your own followers, but your followers’ followers and so on. Google  and other search engines are also including tweets in search results now.
  • Community. By engaging your followers, you can begin to build a following, and join in conversations in meaningful ways.

How to Use Twitter

When you first open up Twitter each day, here are a few key things you’ll want to do to make the most of your “tweeting time.”

  1. Check @ messages. First check to see who has publicly referenced you in their tweets and acknowledge, answer or respond.
  2. Check DMs. Next check your direct messages (DMs) from people who have messaged you privately. Note that you don’t need to respond to auto-responders that say things like “Hey, thanks for following me! Can’t wait to learn more about you.” Responding to those is not expected.
  3. Check your Twitterstream. Read through the first few pages or screens of tweets to see what the people you are following are saying, and to see where there might be appropriate opportunities to retweet, respond or reference them.
  4. Check Searches. You save searches for terms such as your brand name, product names, and keywords pertaining to your business or industry. These can be good sources of additional tweet fodder.

How to Make Your Tweets “Retweetable”

Twitter limits the length of tweets to 140 characters. In order to make your tweets “retweetable” (to make it possible for others to retweet you without having to edit the tweet), you need to reduce the the maximum length even further. Add five to the number of letters in your Twittername, then subtract that from 140. So, for example, there are 14 letters in “stellardigital” — adding five to that is 19. So subtract 19 from 140, which equals 121. That is the maximum length of my “retweetable” tweet.

How to Retweet

There are two standard ways to retweet – adding “RT @Twittername” at the start of the tweet,  and adding “via @Twittername” at the end of the tweet. Either is acceptable, but the latter takes up more valuable “character real estate” — it’s longer, so you can fit less into the retweet. It is acceptable to change spellings of words to make a retweet fit the character limit.

You can also use Twitter’s built-in retweet button, but this is a newer feature has not been adopted by everyone,  and it’s not the ideal way to retweet as it seems less “personal.” You can personalise retweets by adding a comment at the beginning or end.

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