Twitter is one of the most popular social networks, and its own flavor and culture.
If you’re feeling a little confused about tweets and hashtags, you’re definitely not alone. Using Twitter is nothing like any of the other social networks, and using Twitter for business is a whole different ballgame.
To help you navigate the Twitter seas, here’s NeONBRAND’s Twitter 101.
How is Twitter Different?
The big three social networks – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – are nothing alike.
That’s probably why all three are popular. Millions of people use them all for different things, which is important to remember as a social media marketer.
By the way, if you’re absolutely brand new to Twitter and you don’t recognize terms like retweet, direct message, and newsfeed, you might want to start with Mom This is How Twitter Works. It’s slightly outdated now, but you’ll still learn all the basics.
Here’s what makes Twitter distinct:
Those of us who started on social media in the Myspace age still tend to think of a profile as a sort of public online questionnaire.
Even Facebook, which allows you to publish things like your birthday, where you went to school, and who you’re dating doesn’t give users extensive personal profiles.
Twitter has even less profile information.
Your profile on Twitter is basically your picture, a sentence, and maybe a link.
If someone visits your personal Twitter page, they main thing they’ll see is a library of all of your tweets and retweets.
Tweets are limited to a maximum of
140 characters 280 characters, and you can attach pictures, .gifs, or other visual content.
Here’s what that means:
Content on Twitter has to be concise, and that has prevented a lot of more annoying content from clogging up feeds – that’s the stuff that Facebook filters out of your timeline, by the way.
There’s much more wit on Twitter and a bit more creativity.
Short, poignant, catchy content wins.
Follows, Not Friends
Instead of sending a friend request, if you want to see what someone posts on Twitter, you follow them.
That doesn’t mean they’ll see what you post, though.
Your Twitter feed is more similar to a Facebook page than a Facebook profile because if you want people to see your tweets, you have to entice them to follow you.
Mentions, Replies, Likes, and Retweets
A mention is a tweet with someone’s handle in it – Twitter lets them know that you tweeted something about them.
Replies are, in essence, Twitter’s method for having conversations about posts. They’re a little clunky, and they’re not good at handling group conversations, but Twitter seems to be working on this.
When you like someone’s post, it’s just an acknowledgment. There was a big kerfuffle when Twitter changed from a “favorite” with a star to a “like” with a heart, but either way, it just means that you enjoyed a post enough to acknowledge it.
Twitter changed from favorites to likes because calling it a favorite seemed like too much commitment.
Instead of shares, Twitter has retweets.
There are two ways retweets show up in your feed. If you add a comment to a retweet, the post shows up like this:
If you don’t add a comment, the original tweet shows up in your timeline with a little retweet icon:
Technically, #hashtags are terms that tag your tweets and add them to a library of tweets with that same term.
In other words, if you post a #selfie, Twitter users can look at the #selfie tag and see your post with all of the other tagged selfies.
That’s not the primary way that hashtags are used.
The Twitter culture is witty, clever, and trendy, and hashtag use follows that formula.
We could do a whole post on hashtag strategy (and we probably will) but for now, just pay attention to how people are using hashtags on your feed, participate in hashtag games like #HappinessIn3Words, and learn as you go.
Access to Influencers
With Twitter’s follower-based platform, it’s much easier to get access to influencers because the field is wide open.
You don’t need approval to follow and interact with celebrities, business moguls, or other popular users.
In many cases, it’s easier to get in touch with and noticed by generally inaccessible people on Twitter than it is anywhere else.
Our in-house blogger was retweeted by Redfoo once, and it was even during that 18 months where he was relevant. It can be done.
When news breaks, it breaks on Twitter first.
As people tweet about things in real time, Twitter shows the topics that are getting talked about a lot in their Trends section.
Trends aren’t necessarily global – you’ll see trends that people you follow are tweeting about, things that are of particular interest to you, and stuff happening in your physical area.
Sometimes, these are hashtags – for example, if a hashtag game is really taking off, you’ll usually see it there.
Sometimes, it’s news topics, celebrities, or other keywords that are in a lot of tweets across the community.
Twitter’s Feed Algorithms
For most of its existence, Twitter’s feed has displayed the most recent tweets from people you follow at the top, and there has been no filtering.
This is changing.
Because of things like the follow-for-follow etiquette that used to be common practice – more on that later – this unfiltered, latest-first approach has resulted in cluttered feeds that don’t show the content people most want to see.
Twitter is working on it, but for the most part, they’re still showing recent posts at the top.
Direct messages (DMs) are a more private communication method than mentions and replies.
Some marketers have adopted the practice of sending thank-you messages to everyone who follows them, but this is really annoying and comes across as spammy, so we don’t recommend it.
DMs work great for finding people to collaborate with, especially after you’ve interacted with them publicly through mentions and retweets.
Certain people get tons of messages, though, so don’t always expect replies.
Some popular accounts and people have even deactivated their DM feature, and many users keep a privacy filter so that you can only message them if you both follow each other.
Whenever you inbox somebody, be respectful of them and their time. It’s great that you have a method for contacting influencers, but abuse it, and you’ll get blocked.
Twitter’s Ad Product
Twitter allows you to advertise by promoting tweets, promoting your account in an attempt to encourage people to follow you, and promoting trends.
Here’s the thing:
Advertising on Twitter is far more expensive than promoted content on other platforms.
Because of the expense, the currently low engagement numbers, and the amount of time and skill required to craft good content, we don’t use Twitter ads at NeONBRAND.
The ROI just isn’t there for us.
We would rather spend our time using marketing tools that perform better and require less time and effort.
Instead, our Twitter strategy is 100% organic.
Let’s talk about how we get that organic engagement:
Twitter Strategy for Business
Free exposure sounds great, doesn’t it?
That’s what organic reach is – it’s eyeballs on your content and your brand without paying for it.
The time you spend creating and promoting your Twitter content is an investment, and since you have a limited amount of time, it’s more valuable than money.
Posting whatever comes to mind might not generate enough of a return on your time investment to make it worthwhile.
A little bit of practice and strategy, though, can make Twitter one of your biggest marketing assets.
Value First, Value Next, & Value Last
To give value to your followers means that you’re giving them something for free that they would willingly pay for in other circumstances.
People pay for things like entertainment, information, and community.
They do not pay for junk mail.
If your feed becomes a string of advertisements or marketing messages, you’ll lose followers in a hurry.
On Twitter, the most valuable content tends to be short, useful tweets that make an immediate impression.
Humor and wit go a long, long way.
Because of the way Twitter displays content and the way people use their Twitter accounts, the best way to get traction on Twitter is to tweet a lot.
Tweet once or twice a day, and your tweets get buried in the feed.
Tweet regularly throughout the day, and your followers are likely to see at least some of your posts.
That’s easier with:
Unlike other social networks where your friends and followers see most of your posts, on Twitter, you can recycle old posts with positive results.
Most of your followers will be seeing it for the first time, even if it’s the third time you’ve posted the same tweet.
As long as you’re focusing on value, even followers who have seen this content before will likely engage with it again.
It’s easier than coming up with fresh content.
And it’s more effective than posting lots of different things.
This requires a little explanation:
Back in the day, the Twitter etiquette was that if someone followed you, you followed them back.
While early adopters learned how Twitter worked, they adopted the follow-for-follow etiquette because it was one of the first networks with a unidirectional follow process.
“Friendships” weren’t two-way, and early users thought that following back was the same as becoming someone’s friend.
As Twitter grew, though, this became fairly unruly.
People started following hundreds of accounts they didn’t actually have any interest in seeing, and tweets from their friends and other interesting content got buried in the junk.
Today, follow-for-follow is still a thing…for marketer accounts.
Users that always follow back tend to be lower quality follows since they’re following too many accounts to notice your posts.
There’s a certain amount of value in the social proof of a large Twitter following…
But be aware that a small number of engaged followers is far more valuable than hundreds of thousands of mediocre followers, bots, and other marketers.
You’ll know you’re posting the right stuff when your tweets get good engagement.
Likes, retweets, and replies are engagement, though the best kinds of engagement are the kind where people go to your website.
Click through rates on links (the number of people that click links to outside websites) are higher on Twitter than on other social networks, but those links should be value focused.
Plus, by varying the types of content you post, you’ll get more engagement while you give more value.
It all goes back to value.
Crossposting is a common practice on social media, but native posting is much more effective.
Crossposts work like this:
You link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that when you publish a status update on Facebook, it automatically shares to Twitter without you taking any extra steps.
That looks like this:
Not nice, is it?
When you link Twitter and Facebook, and your Facebook post is over the character limit, your tweet contains an unattractive link. Would you click on that?
The same is true for Instagram.
While posting a picture on Instagram, you can easily share it to a linked Twitter account.
It looks like this:
The photo caption is displayed, and there’s a link to the picture that opens Instagram.
Here’s what it looks like when you post content natively:
That’s much better, isn’t it?
Native content also gives you the ability to talk to your different audiences in the way that’s most effective for that specific group of people.
Even if we use both Twitter and Facebook, our mindsets are different while we’re on the different platforms.
One-size-fits-all is just as bad for marketing as it is for yoga pants.
For businesses and marketers, maintaining a healthy volume of posts is even more important, but your time has more demands on it, too.
That’s why we use these tools to help.
Hootsuite is a scheduling tool that allows users to write Tweets now and automatically post them later.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn’t have a feature that lets you schedule posts.
For the casual user, this is fine.
But for companies using Twitter as a marketing tool, Hootsuite is basically a miracle.
Archie tracks keywords and hashtags of your choosing and engages with those posts on your behalf.
We use it to like posts, though tools like this are often used to automatically follow certain accounts in hopes of a follow-for-follow.
Meet Edgar takes tweet scheduling a step farther by allowing you to build organized libraries of potential tweets, then it posts from your library on a specified schedule. Rather than individually typing each tweet, you choose the topic, and Meet Edgar continues recycling your content until you tell it to stop.
Since the original posting of this article, Meet Edgar has changed their platform. It no longer allows you to automatically schedule from a library and is much more like Hootsuite.
They’re pretty snazzy, and they free up your time so that you can actually do the stuff you need to do to run your company.
[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]Twitter use can get more advanced, but when you’re just starting out, this Twitter 101 list is pretty comprehensive.[/tweet_box]
Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything yet.
You’ll pick it up as you go.