In Part 1 of this 3 part Twitter series, we discussed what Twitter is, why it is important, and how it can help your business. In this part, we are going to build on that information by covering the fundamentals you will need to wade your way through Twitter.
First, we will start with finding people on Twitter, then we’ll move into attracting followers, then finally we will discuss some of the Twitter lingo.
By the end of this post, you should understand some basic methods for attracting followers, and you’ll know the differences between Retweets, Direct Messages, At-ing, and Hash Tags. Let’s dive in!
Twitter Tracking: Finding People on Twitter
Finding friends on Twitter is extremely easy. You can use the search function (at the top of Twitter’s website) to locate people tweeting about subjects you care about. There are tools out there that you can use to auto follow people, but I don’t necessarily suggest this route. When you select your followers manually, you’ll take more care than a software just following anyone who mentions a word or phrase.
Often, as a courtesy, people may follow you back, but don’t be disappointed if they don’t. Focus on following quality, interesting people, and begin interacting with them. This will get you more comfortable with Twitter.
You can also use websites like hashtags.org (we’ll talk about hash tags later) to follow certain hash tags, and see how popular they are. Additionally, the website shows you the last few messages that mention that Hashtag.
Get Twitter Followers
One of the more discouraging parts of Twitter is trying to get followers. It can be tempting to follow as many people as possible, and hope they follow back, but you may end up with a very useless group of followers who don’t care about what you have to say, and who flood your main page with tweets you don’t care to read.
Instead, begin tweeting. Start sending out interesting tweets, and use hash tags (we’ll talk about those below). Eventually, you’ll get followers who are interested in what you have to say. Interacting with your followers will also help to increase the followers you get. This will be because of people retweeting your interactions.
The most important thing to remember is to tweet quality content. It will either need to be relatable, informative, or humorous. If your content is uninspired, unrelatable, uninformative, or not funny, then people will have little reason to follow you. You must add value, or else you’ll be ignored.
Twitter Talk: What is a Retweet?
Retweeting is similar to those forward emails that you hate getting, except people don’t hate retweets. If I say something that you think is hilarious or insightful, and you want to share it with your followers, you can retweet it. (Think of it as me telling you a joke that you think is funny, so you go and tell your friends, that is a real world example of a “retweet”).
Rather than copying and pasting what I said, you can simply click on the retweet button, and Twitter will post that message to all of your followers. As you can see, this is an excellent way to obtain followers.
If you say something insightful, and one of your followers retweets it to their 5,000+ followers, I would be willing to bet you’ll get a few followers from that.
Twitter Talk: What is a Direct Message (DM)?
Twitter realized there is a need to send messages privately without everyone’s followers being able to see the message. They invented direct messaging. This is done by putting a “d” at the front of your tweet followed by the person’s twitter name.
It might be tempting to abuse this feature, but don’t be tempted. Twitter is very strict about abusing their system, so unless you have a genuine reason to Direct Message someone (such as a thanks for following or to let them know that you’re going to a convention), you should probably leave it alone.
Direct Messaging is perfect for providing important information that you don’t want broadcast publicly. I caution you however: ensure that you’re extremely comfortable with Direct Messaging. I’ve seen plenty of messages go out publicly that were intended to be direct messages!
Twitter Talk: What is the at (@) symbol?
I’ve been teasing you throughout this article. On Twitter, you will see many messages that contain @ and # symbols. The @ symbol is immediately followed by a name, such as: @WealthArtisan or @HumbleLaura, and this creates what is called a “mention.”
Let’s do a test. Go to Twitter right now, and type in “Hello @WealthArtisan” and click “Tweet.” I will now be alerted that you mentioned me in a message, and I will have the opportunity to reply to it. Essentially, this is a public way of holding a conversation between two people. Everyone will be able to see what we are saying to each other, but we will be alerted that we are talking about each other.
If this sounds confusing, think of it as you and I being in the same public place with lots of people around. You say “Hey Wealth Artisan, your site is the coolest!” Everyone around us can hear the message, but I know it is directed at me.
Twitter Talk: What is the hash (#) symbol?
The hash symbol followed by a word is like a category that lets people know what you’re talking about and it categorizes your tweet under that category. People can click on your hashtag and see other tweets related to it.
This is also how twitter can tell what is trending (being talked about a lot right now). Try this right now: go to twitter and type in “Hey @wealthartisan, I really love #frenchfries!” I will then be alerted that you told me that you love french fries. If I click on your hashtag, I can see all recent posts that are talking about frenchfries.
Please note, spaces aren’t allowed in hashtags, so if you said “Hey @wealthartisan, I love #french fries” it would look like you’re talking about French rather than french fries. You could say #french_fries, if you feel the need to add a space.
Often, if a space is required, people omit it and run the words together. It might seem confusing at first, but you’ll get used to it. The ultimate goal of hashtags is to tell people what your tweet is essentially about, make it easier to find, and help third party software (we’ll talk about those later) know what you like to talk about.
Great job getting this far. If Twitter seems intimidating, don’t worry. You will get the hang of it, and once you do, it will be another marketing tool in your toolbox. If you have any questions, be sure to ask me in the comments.
In the next part (Part 3), we are going to talk about 3rd parties, and how they can extend the functionality for Twitter (and you).