Considering that Twitter barely existed 3 years ago, it is considered the fastest growing social media platform with around 300 million registered users to date. Yet many small business owners are still confused by the concept and have been avoiding what could be a great communication tool. So here are the basics that you need to know about Twitter.
1. Twitter is what is called a microblogging platform – meaning updates are short so that they are easy to read and comprehend.
2. Twitter updates are called “tweets.”
3. Tweet’s are limited to 140 characters.
4. Tweets can include links to other websites and content (and there are plenty of ways to truncate links so they fit nicely within the character limit.
5. Twitter does have privacy options, but they limit functionality so most people don’t use them.
6. Most tweets are public and searchable. This means you can search a term (like your company name) to find out who is talking about it and what they are saying.
7. Twitter keeps track of the words or phrases that are being mentioned the most, and compiles them into a list called “trending topics.”
8. Since information can be shared quickly and easily, Twitter is becoming the first place that news breaks, and where people are going first for their information. For example, news of Osama Bin Laden’s death broke first on Twitter. Also, needed help and supplies are getting to areas affected by the recent tornadoes faster, and people are using the search capabilities to find out where the needs are.
9. You can follow users on Twitter so you receive their updates.
10. Twitter makes it very easy to broadcast someone else’s tweets to your own followers using the “retweet” function – which helps messages and content spread quickly.
11. You can have a conversation publicly with someone through the “@ reply” function, or privately through the “direct message” function.
12. Twitter users organize their posts into categories by using what is called a “hashtag.” A hashtag is simply the number symbol (#) followed by a word or words with no spaces. An example of this would be #twitter101. You would search #twitter101 to find all of the posts specifically related to that subject. Anyone can make up their own hashtag and they can be as long and specific or as short and general as the user would like.
13. Within the framework of Twitter there are endless opportunities for companies to connect with and communicate to their target audience. For an example of a Twitter account you can visit mine, at http://twitter.com/brittanybotti.