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Published on October 2nd, 2014 | by Sally Wenham

How To Use Social: Twitter

Here at the Post Office Shop, we understand that Twitter is still somewhat of an unknown quantity for some people who don’t know how to use it to benefit their business! So we thought that we would provide a quick guide to the platform and some hints and tips on how to use it effectively.

Twitter was created in March 2006 by a group of friends Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass. It was officially launched in July 2006. Since then, the popularity of Twitter has rocketed and the art of ‘micro-blogging’ has become more widespread.

Twitter allows the creation of messages, known as ‘tweets’ which are limited to a maximum of 140 characters long. The requirement to communicate within a limited number of characters requires the content of the message to be particularly concise, often at the expense of using correct punctuation.

The content that is seen is also very specific; thanks to users having to actively select which other twitter users they follow. This allows a Twitter user to follow other users based on certain subjects of interest; for example, a web development company following other web developers and organisations that provide hints and tips on web development.

An added feature to Twitter is that ‘Twitter Lists’ can be created; lists are a curated group of Twitter users. By creating lists, a Twitter user can group the people they follow by a subject or theme and only see tweets from those users. Twitter has recently updated its lists facility to allow up to 1,000 lists with up to 5,000 accounts each within them. This now means users can have lists for even more themes such as retail, ecommerce, web design and so on.

Twitter allows conversations between users, by using the ‘@’ symbol followed by a users’ Twitter Handle (username) which will send that particular user a notification that they have been mentioned in a tweet. This tweet will then show up in that users’ news feed.

trending-examples

An important aspect of Twitter and one of its trademarks is the use of hashtags (#). Placing the # symbol in front of any word in a conversation will denote that word as being the general tweets topic. By using hashtags, there is the potential that the tag will begin to trend; this is when a hashtag is being mentioned frequently. Recently, Blackberry used the hashtag #BBPassport to promote their new Passport smartphone.

Twitter is integrated with video applications such as  Youtube, allowing videos to be seen directly in tweets rather than as a clickable link taking the user away from the site or app itself. Twitter also owns Vine, an application which allows six second looping videos to be taken and shared.

Twitter can be used to drive traffic to a company website. For example, by circulating content which adds value to a follower, there is the possibility that follower will then recommend that company to others. This could be a whitepaper that is now available to download or a blog post which people may find interesting and informative. A key thing to remember is that word of mouth advertising is the most trusted kind and it’s totally free!

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