Just before you start utilising Twitter, I want to introduce you to a few of the main features that you may have noticed on Twitter. Some of these features are linked to messages and you may have seen letters and symbols that make relatively little sense. This mini-guide is here to help. First up, a glossary of the main terms of Twitter:
A reply is basically where you want to react to what someone else has twittered by replying to it publicly. If you place the ‘at’ symbol in front of their name (with no space) then what you write back will appear in the replies list on that person’s profile, as well as on Twitter for everyone to read. Large-scale conversations can start this way and it can also increase your followers as people will follow you if you’re twittering something interesting that adds to the conversation. You can find all the replies that mention you by clicking on your username on the right of the screen.
A retweet is simply the name given to what happens when you forward a tweet that someone else has posted. To signal that it’s a retweet and not your own post, you put the letters RT (no space between them) before the tweet you want to forward. As you gain more followers and become more influential in your field, people may ask you to retweet what they’ve said in the hope of obtaining a larger group of followers.
Once you’ve created your account on Twitter, you may notice the words ‘Trending Topics’ in the right column beneath your profile information. Next to it is an arrow which, when clicked, will reveal the topics that people are talking about most on Twitter. This is done via Twitter Search, which I give you a tutorial on at my site. When you click one of the words in the list, it searches for it on Twitter and shows you a list of the most recent posts to mention that keyword. This is a clever tool as it gives you a concise idea of the trends on Twitter. This will be particularly helpful to all you entrepreneurs out there. The bonus chapter at the end of my book shows you how to use this and gives you even more great tools.
Fear not, they’re not related to the narcotics trade. These are the keywords that are placed directly after the hash or pound symbol (#) in people’s tweets. By putting one of these in your tweet, it makes that word into a link which people can click on. When they do, it will search all the posts that mention that hash tag. Again, this can be useful when you want to determine what people are talking about. If you see a trend that is linked to your site, write something about it on your blog and post a link to it on Twitter so that some of the traffic that’s talking about that subject is directed to your site. If you’re into internet marketing, you can also use this to see what people need before delivering it to them.
One popular hash tag is the ‘Follow Friday’ tag. Every Friday, the good people of Twitter can tweet about the people they like to follow and who they think others would like to follow.
DM simply stands for Direct Message and is the way in which you can communicate privately with other Twitter members, rather than tweeting to all of them at once. You must be following the person you want to DM and they must be following you for you to be able to send them a message. Unlike a reply, these messages are only seen by the person you’re sending it to.
Although we are going to be using Twitter for business and as a means to drive more visitors to your site, I need to make one thing clear before we get started. It’s a point that many marketers will disagree with but I know from experience that I’m right, no matter what business you’re in.
People don’t like being sold to, so don’t use Twitter to direct sell to anyone.
However, people do enjoy having their problems solved or to get good information about the sites that interest them. If you only tweet things like: ‘Buy my DVD now’ followed by a link to it, no one will want to follow you and no one will purchase from you. They have to know you, then like and then trust you before they will want to buy from you.
Work on building their trust by providing good information and you’ll be impressed by how many people will become interested in how you can help them. Go to your followers with useful offerings and then let them come to you.
Matthew Duggan is an entrepreneur and social media author. He lives is London and is currently working on a social media e-course.