The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter

Twitter is a horn of plenty in terms of information, networking and engagement. If you’re a business, Twitter might be the right platform for increasing your exposure rate and your customer base at the same time. Though Twitter can be both confusing and chaotic at a first glance, these basic advices will get you far.

Understand Twitter
Twitter is unlike other social platforms in many ways. First of all, profiles are public by default, and although you can choose to make your profile private, the transparency and straightforwardness of Twitter is really what makes it great – because it gives you the potential to connect with the whole world and vice versa.

Besides being a very public place, Twitter is characterised by speed. That might not be relevant if all you need is to connect and converse with your friends, but if you plan to promote your brand on Twitter, speed is paramount. Depending on how many profiles people are following, a tweet has a lifespan of only a couple of minutes. So to gain visibility through your Twitter page, you should Tweet consistently, ideally at least once per hour. One way is to schedule your tweets to publish automatically.

Know your limit
Although Twitter is currently working on a way to expand their character limit – possibly up to 10,000 characters – the limit of 140 characters per tweet still applies. This includes links and images. Links take up 23 characters, no matter the length or size. For images, it’s 24 characters. However, to avoid hiding the actual text behind a lengthy link, we recommend that you shorten it for your tweet – and are some of the most popular link shortening services.

The hashtag was originally invented as a means of organizing the trillions of tweets that exist on Twitter. It is now an integrated part of most social media platforms and allows people to connect their tweets and posts with existing hashtags, or to find content about specific subjects by searching tags.

Including hashtags in your tweets is important in order for people to find you on the platform. For instance, if you’re tweeting about Donald Trump, mark it with #Trump. Then, people searching for news or opinions on the presidential candidate will be able to find it through a simple search.

Read more about good hashtagging practice right here.

You are what you tweet
While you are free to tweet anything, to gain a respectable reputation on Twitter contributing information that is valuable to your community is key. If you’re representing a business, you should tweet about that and all that relates to it – but without turning your page into a billboard. And though adding a little personality can make your brand more likeable, a trip to the beach or your grandmother’s birthday do not fall into the category of valuable information. Off-topic tweets could cost you, followers – because unless you’re famous or a personal friend, people follow you to get updates and information about your specific topic, not you.

If you share content from other sources, always acknowledge them for it. Crediting people as a source, for instance by including their Twitter-handle, might be the beginning of a beneficial relationship, or at least it could make them more inclined to return the favour later.

Retweets, @replies, and @mentions
Retweeting is a way to share another person’s interesting information with your own followers. Viral content tends to spread via retweets. Always remember that a retweet should be thought of as quoting someone or citing a source.

You can choose to either retweet something directly to your wall, or add a quote or comment. Generally, the latter is a better way to drive engagement, as users will often retweet your acknowledgement of their work or opinion. That way, you get free exposure within that person’s set of followers, which might encourage them to follow you as well.

You can direct a Tweet at a specific Twitter user with @replies and mentions. The @reply feature is intended to make communication between users easier, i.e. a way of conversing. For instance, use the feature to start discussions based on other people’s content, or to acknowledge it. Again, this can be an effective and meaningful way of driving engagement and visitors to your Twitter page or website. Be aware that duplicated, unsolicited @replies to lots of profiles are considered spam behaviour.

Direct Messages
Direct Messages are the private side of Twitter and allow you to have private conversations with other users. You can send messages to individuals or groups, as long as they follow you. Some accounts, especially those belonging to businesses, have enabled a setting to receive Direct Messages from anyone, and you can send a Direct Message to these users even if they don’t follow you.

With Hypefactors, you can schedule tweets, analyse your performance on Twitter, and much more. Learn more about what we offer.