I’m sure you’ve heard of Twitter by now, but if you’re still wondering what it is and how it can be used as a part of yoursocial media marketing strategy, this blog is for you.

Twitter consists primarily of tweets, or 140 character long (or fewer) messages. Users follow other users to see their tweets, which appear in the main feed. This sounds simple enough, but why do businesses need Twitter? It allows them to quickly gather and spread information, and also provides the potential for improved customer service and communication. Twitter requires participation, but how you participate and how often you participate is up to you.

Setting Up Your Account

When you visit Twitter.com, you’ll see an area on the screen where you can sign up for an account. As you’re setting up your profile, keep the following in mind:

  • Use your real name or your business’ name – you want it to be easy for people to find you!
  • Include specific keywords and hashtags in your bio.
  • Mention a specific location.
  • Include a link to your website.

Crafting High-Quality Tweets & Using Twitter to Your Advantage

Once your Twitter account is set up, you may be wondering what you should tweet about. Use your Twitter account to:

  • Participate in a conversation
  • Publicize events
  • Share blog posts
  • Give updates
  • Ask questions

Above all, your goal here is to find a way to connect with others.

Twitter Vocabulary Words

@replies: Tweets that start with @username are replies. You can click on @username to visit that person’s Twitter profile. Keep in mind that when you tweet at someone, only that person and those who follow both of you will see that tweet in their timeline. If you need to get around that, start your tweet with a period: .@username.

Followers: Followers are people who have “followed” you, or opted to see your tweets in their timeline.

Direct Messages: Direct messages are private communications seen only by the sender and recipient.

Retweets: Retweets are a way to share other users’ tweets with your followers. When someone retweets you, it increases your visibility. You can use the retweet button to share information someone else has tweeted, or you can ask your followers to retweet your tweets to increase your reach and get your message to more people.

Quote tweets: Quote tweets are useful when you want to share something someone else posted, but add your own information. These tweets show up as your tweets but give credit to the original author. Quote tweets usually follow this format: [your thoughts] RT @username [original tweet].

Hashtags: To create a #hashtag, simply add a pound symbol (#) before a word or phrase. Hashtags (and general terms) are clickable and searchable on Twitter, and if you search for a hashtag, all tweets using that hashtag will appear in the results. Hashtags can become trending topics (see below). Hashtags are also used to coordinate Twitter Chats, or organized and scheduled conversations around a particular topic. Make sure not to make up your own hashtags – use ones that others are using for the widest reach.

Trending Topics: Twitter tracks what people are talking about, and the most-talked about topics are known as Trending Topics. These are found next to your timeline, and are typically a mixture of current events and fun hashtags, such as #ThrowbackThursday, which is often used to post older pictures. Businesses can use trending topics to find places to insert themselves. Relating their product or brand back to current events or a hashtag that is trending can help expand reach.

Favorites: Favoriting a tweet has multiple uses – use this feature to like a tweet, acknowledge it, or even just to remind yourself to come back to the tweet later. If you’d like to favorite a tweet, just click the star below it. One you favorite something, it is saved as a “Favorite” on your profile. Favoriting tweets is another useful way to connect with your followers – we often use favoriting to acknowledge favorable and positive things other users tweet about us.

Lists: Lists allow you to create a custom stream of users. You can add anyone to a list, and you can create public lists that other people can follow. Businesses can use lists to follow relevant influencers and keep up with the content they are tweeting. If you are following thousands of users, your timeline will become very crowded, to say the least. Lists allow you to keep track of just the users you want to see.

Finding People to Follow & Building Up Your Followers

There are multiple ways to find people to follow, depending on whether you are looking for a specific person, or just looking for people to follow in general. You can:

  • Use their username to find them
  • Use your existing social networks to find them
  • Use the search function to search for them
  • Rely on Twitter to recommend people you may want to follow

You’ll also want to build up your list of followers, or those following you. Relying on reciprocity is an easy way to do this. When you follow someone, they’ll see your Twitter profile and may decide to follow you. Other ways to increase your followers include strategically reaching out to other users by tweeting at them, and using relevant hashtags to increase your reach.

Managing your followers is also important. It’s completely acceptable to unfollow other users, especially if they aren’t adding value to your feed. Note that Twitter does have limits on how many people you can follow. Any user can follow up to 2000 accounts. Once you hit that number, the number you can follow depends on your number of followers. So, for example, if you have thousands of followers, you’ll be able to follow more than 2000 accounts.