What is Twitter and why does it keep following me around?
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?" by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers."
The short format of the tweet is a defining characteristic of the service, allowing informal collaboration and quick information sharing that provides relief from rising email and IM fatigue. Twittering is also a less gated method of communication: you can share information with people that you wouldn't normally exchange email or IM messages with, opening up your circle of contacts to an ever-growing community of like-minded people.
You can send your messages using the Twitter website directly, as a single SMS alert, or via a third-party application such as Twirl, Snitter, or the Twitterfox add-on for Firefox. (See below for links to Twitter tools and applications.)
Your tweets are displayed on your profile page, on the home page of each of your followers, and in the Twitter public timeline (unless you disable this in your account settings.)
You can receive tweets by visiting the Twitter website, IM, SMS, RSS, email or via a third-party application.
For more information about what Twitter is all about, see:
- Still Don’t Get Twitter? Maybe This Will Help
- Twitter in Plain English
- Twitter Fan Wiki
- Official Twitter Blog
- Twitter Handbook Blog
- The Big Juicy Twitter Guide by Caroline Middlebrook
- Twitter Profile on CrunchBase
- Versatility Made Twitter What It Is Today: A Research Paper on Twitter
- Twitter: New User Quick Start Guide
- Mashable's Twitter Guide Book
Why Twitter is Useful
Twitter has many uses for both personal and business use. It's a great way to keep in touch with your friends and quickly broadcast information about where you are and what you're up to. For example, "I'm downtown and aching for some sushi. Anyone like to join me?"
For business, Twitter can be used to broadcast your company's latest news and blog posts, interact with your customers, or to enable easy internal collaboration and group communication.
To learn more about how you can make use of Twitter, see:
- Twitter 101 for Business
- 62 Ways to Use Twitter for Business
- Top 10 Twitter Tips for Beginners
- 4 Ways Companies Use Twitter for Business
- 17 Ways You Can Use Twitter: A Guide for Beginners, Marketers and Business Owners
- Chris Pirillo's Top Five Uses of Twitter
- 5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good
- Twitter and Internal Office Use
- How to Use Twitter - Tips for Bloggers
- A Day Without Twitter
- Top 10 Uses of Twitter and Tools
- 18 Super Useful Ways To Use Twitter
- Power-Tweeting: 101 Everyday Uses for Twitter
- How We Use Twitter for Journalism
How to Use Twitter
Visit the Twitter website and click "Join for free" to create your account. Consider using your real name as your user name to help your friends find you more easily.
Once your account is created, login and click "Settings." From here, you can setup your account details, manage your password, register your mobile phone and IM account, configure how you receive Notices, upload your photo and customize your account's design.
Your Twitter page is located at twitter.com/your-username
You can "tweet" from your Twitter page, your mobile phone, IM account, or via a third-party Twitter client.
- From your Twitter page: S imply enter a message in the text field at the top of the page and click "Update."
- From your mobile phone: Send an SMS message to 40404.
- From your IM account: Send a message to either email@example.com (Jabber/GTalk) or TwitterIM (AOL).
Your tweet will be displayed to your followers, either on their Twitter page, mobile phone, or any other way they are setup to receive Twitter updates.
Following Other Twitter Users
Finding and adding friends to your "Twitterverse" is easy.
- From the Twitter website: Login to your account, visit your friends' Twitter pages and click "Follow" underneath their photo. If your friend's account is public, you will immediately start seeing their tweets on your page, otherwise your friend will need to approve you before you can see their updates.
- From your mobile phone or IM account: Send the command follow username.
See the Twitter website for a complete reference of Twitter Commands.
@Replies and Direct Messages
When you send a message with @username at the beginning, it's understood that your message is intended for that specific user, but all your followers can still see the tweet. Note that for the intended recipient to see your message on their home page, they must be following you, otherwise they will only see your message on the Replies tab.
To send a friend a private tweet, use the Direct command: d username message.
Learn more about using Twitter:
How to Network with Twitter
The following blog posts are aimed at bloggers and other professionals who would like to use Twitter for business.
- How to Get More Twitter Followers
- 5 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Presence
- Building Your Twitter Presence Part 2 - Pre-Prepared Tweets
- Building Your Twitter Presence Part 3 - TweetBaiting
- 8 Tips for Power Networking on Twitter
- 14 Ways To Get Unfollowed on Twitter
Twitter In The News
- Recap: The Folks At Twitter Have Been Busy This Week (04/13/10)
- Sarah Killen, Conan O'Brien's First Twitter Followee, Enjoying Her Fame (03/06/10)
- Meets Socks The Cat: Twitter Superstar With 500000 Followers
- Twitter Implicated in Break Up Between Aniston and Mayer (03/29/09)
- Buddhist Monks Say Twitter Can Lead to Happiness (03/12/10)
- Twitter's Tweet Smell Of Success (03/18/09)
- The Future, Growth and Monetization of Twitter (06/11/08)
- Twitter refuses to ban abusive users (05/22/08)
- Why Twitter Matters: Can the fledgling microblogging service become a social media powerhouse to rival giants like Facebook—or will it be gobbled up? (05/15/08)
- Twitter Emerges as Key Communications Channel in China Quake (05/13/08)
- Twitter Gaining Momentum But Still Niche (04/29/08)
Subscribe to the Twitter Tools RSS feed and get notified of the latest tools added to tweeternet.
To suggest a tool, app or resource just add me to your del.icio.us network and share the link!
More Places to Find Twitter Tools
- The Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter
- Twitter Apps
- Twitter Fan Wiki's Apps List
- Lee Odden's BIGLIST of Twitter Tools
- How We Tweet: The Definitive List of the Top Twitter Clients
- 25 Twitter Apps to Manage Multiple Accounts
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The power of Twitter for businesses has grown immensely over the past few years. Newsworthy content for businesses can no longer get significant coverage from issuing a press release to traditional media sources, alone. Sharing your press release on Twitter allows your message to reach a more targeted, relevant audience, for FREE.
Sounds great, right? What’s the catch?
Twitter has a rapid moving news feed, so tweets have a tendency to get buried if they don’t stand out. Also, a single tweet is limited to 140 characters, so the likelihood of grabbing the attention of your readers is determined by how eye-catching your 140 characters, or essentially one line of copy, is to your prospective audience.
How to make sure your press release gets noticed
First, make sure your company has a solid presence on Twitter. Make sure you are satisfied with your network of followers and your brand is well established, meaning you are actively tweeting multiple times daily and interacting with your followers. If your brand isn’t as established on Twitter as you would like, blogs such as Social Media Examiner, HubSpot, and Hootsuite, are some of the leading references for businesses looking to improve social media engagement and brand recognition.
Secondly, it’s important that you’re tracking the attention your press release gets. If you have a platform that is set up to track how many clicks from Twitter to your release you’re getting, such as HubSpot, Hootsuite, Twitter Analytics, or Google Analytics, that’s great. If you do not have a tracking tool, it doesn’t mean you can’t leverage your release the same way, you just won’t receive exact data, click-rate, etc.
The tweet itself
Out of the average 400-500 words in a press release, the headline is absolutely the most important. It’s suggested to keep your headline within 100 characters, so it’ll be the bulk of your tweet. The remainder of your tweet should include hashtags.
Hashtags are the words or phrases that follow the # sign in a tweet. Hashtags are designed to track trending topics and organize subject matter. For example, if you were to type in #SuperBowl during the playoffs in Twitter’s search bar, everyone who tweeted using #SuperBowl will appear on your news feed, regardless of if you follow them. The reason this feature is good for business is, a hashtag allows your tweet the potential to reach more than just your own followers, increasing its visibility. To make sure you’re using hashtags properly, research what your partners and competitors are using on their accounts.
What to do
Use conversational language. Your followers want to know there’s a real person behind your tweet and a good test is, if it doesn’t intrigue you, it’s not going to intrigue them.
Use hashtags, but do not, I repeat, do not overuse or misuse a hashtag. Doing so will make you look amateur and using too many hashtags can water down the importance of your message.
Attaching an image to your tweet can be helpful in grabbing your audience’s attention, however don’t force it. If your logo or another applicable image does not apply, don’t use it.
What NOT to do
You will more than likely be tempted to tweet your release multiple times because of how fast it disappears on your news feed. Reminding your audience about your release is okay, as long as you reword it and tweet it at a different time, preventing your followers from thinking it is spam.
Don’t write a misleading headline in an attempt to get more clicks from your followers. They will quickly realize and you’ll leave a bad taste in their mouths.
Don’t start your tweet with a Twitter handle (i.e. “@cvshealth launches new…”). Doing so will limit your potential reach.
When it comes to any marketing or public relations messaging, a company has to choose what their business goals are, establish measurable objectives, declare who their target audience is, and choose the tactics the company plans to use in order to get their message across as efficiently and successfully as possible.
If your company does not currently have a Twitter account, or the account has little to no followers at this time, some press release distribution services will tweet your release for you, using their own Twitter account. For example, www.prnewswire.com and www.PRunderground.com are two distributions that offer a social add-on option.
Currently, the switch isn’t easy.
They are experimenting with ways to highlight tweets that are most relevant to you when you visit the service. There are three ways that could be done:
- completely automated algorithms
- human curation
- a combination of human curation and automated algorithms
The first would be nirvana, but like some of google’s search automation, or some of the terrible article spinners that lazy marketers use, 100% automation would probably be an awful result. The second would be great for employment, but too expensive and very bad for the company’s bottom line. So a combination of automation and human editing or curation could do the trick. Facebook is already going down the combination path and it seems to be working.
It will be very interesting to see if they can do it.
Twitter is all about you.
Whether you are a real person, a business or a brand, and earlier this month, you got a makeover. The first time you saw it, you might have thought there was something wrong with your browser. Something looked different, and you might have wondered if your computer had been hacked or maybe your browser was on the blink.
There were three changes to tweets:
- Best Tweets: Tweets that receive more engagement appear slightly larger
- Pinned Tweet: You can pin a Tweet to the top of your page
- Filtered Tweets: You can choose which timeline to view when reviewing other profiles
The pinned tweet is a nice idea, because it gives you a way to highlight a specific tweet, that isn’t pushed down by your less important tweets. I’ve always tried to handle this by choosing the order that I tweet at a particular time, but that only lasts as long as you can hold of saying something new.
Filtered tweets are good too, because you can set whether you look at tweets, tweets with photos or videos or tweets and replies. I like this.
Best tweets might have to grow on me over time. Increasing the size of the font for tweets with added engagement is a reasonable idea, but I’m not sure I like it yet. And what happens to a tweet that goes viral and gets massive engagement? Does it take over the whole screen?
The other things that changed are that the new web profile allows for a larger profile photo, and a customized header. Nice changes.
What the Trend says it is “The front page of the real-time web.”
If you want to discover the current trends on Twitter, and the reason they are trending, What the Trend tells you what and why.
Two types of messages drive What The Trend – short phrases and hashtags.
The site gets its trending information using the twitter API, then What The Trend members pitch in, to say why they think the items are interesting, providing a short description of it. Then, What The Trend staff moderate the descriptions and send them back out in their own feed. That feed runs on many other sites, including Twitter.
Tweeternet will keep an eye on it and it we think it is valuable, we may decide to run it at Tweeternet too.
The current top 10 things trending, as I write this are:
Currently Trending on Twitter, According To What The Trend
- Katie Couric
- #sincewebeinghonest people are being honest.
- #thingsthatpissmeoff people disrespecting my personal space.
- #iLoveWhen Things, people or activities you love.
- NHS NHS patients able to get free treatment almost anywhere they want – public or private – under radical reforms unveiled.
- TAYLOR WON Taylor Swift wins ACMA Entertainer of the Year.
- Pet Shop Boys The Pet Shop Boys will support Take That on their upcoming Progress Live tour.
- Kate Bush Singer Kate Bush says she is ‘likely’ to release new music this year.
- Alan Titchmarsh One Direction are going to be on the show 3/4pm tonight.
- Martin Luther King The third Monday in January is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US, a national holiday remembering the famous Baptist preacher and civil rights pioneer.
Tim Martin, the NewsBlaze Technology Specialist says there is a new exploit affecting thousands of twitter users.
Twitter updated their website last week and there is now a vulnerability.
This exploit only affects users who are on the twitter.com website, so anyone using a third party website or a software application, is not affected.
Twitter released a basic acknowledgment of the flaw and says that it’s working to correct it. “We’ve identified and are patching an XSS attack; as always, please message @safety (Twitter’s official security account) if you have info regarding such an exploit,” the company wrote in a tweet.
XSS is shorthand for Cross Site Scripting. This Twitter Exploit should be resolved quickly.