The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Twitter
Where is Twitter? What’s a Hashtag? Who is a ReTweet? Why are all those symbols being used? How do I do this? Learning how to use Twitter can seem a bit like learning a new language, but when it’s such a valuable tool for your business, it’s important to get it right. Let’s get started on how to use Twitter for your brand.
You’ve got to walk before you can run so let’s start with the basics. Signing up for Twitter couldn’t be easier. Enter twitter.com in the address bar and fill in the required fields of email or phone number, and a password.
Twitter will then ask you to create a username. If you plan on using Twitter for your business, use your business name with capital letters for each of the words; if that username is unavailable, add a location identifier after the name, such as NL for Newfoundland and Labrador or YYT for St. John’s. Keep in mind your username will be all one word.
Click the Create My Account Button and you’re on Twitter!
Your next priorities will be your account bio, profile photo, and header images; but don’t worry, Twitter makes that easy too.
Upon creating your account, Twitter will give you the chance to “Follow” some friends, popular users, and brands you’ve heard of. It will also offer to check your online address book to add your contacts. You can do so, or skip this step, it’s up to you, but we’ll come back to Following in a moment.
Clicking on the round egg icon in the upper right hand corner, you can select Settings and Privacy to choose your timezone, location, and make any other changes to your account you’d like. Ensure your Tweets are public by checking that this box isn’t clicked.
Hit Save and from there you can click that egg icon again and select Profile.
Who Are You
On your Profile Page, when you click Edit Profile, Twitter will walk you through the simple process of adding a profile picture, a header image, and creating a bio. Profile images are 400×400 pixels and should be your logo if possible. Your header image should be a symbolic image for your business.
Your bio should be a description of your business, you can make it fun or serious, but it’s got to be brief – you have only 160 characters (or keystrokes) to make your point.
Learning the Twitter language is essential before you start Tweeting. Here’s a quick rundown:
A Tweet is a post with a maximum 160 characters or keystrokes. Though the fewer you use, the more likely it is to be read. You can include links, gifs, emojis, photos, and tag locations by clicking the icons below the Tweet box.
A ReTweet is when someone shares what someone else has written and it includes attribution to the original poster.
An @ is used to speak directly – and publicly – to someone else’s account.
You can private message if you want to speak directly to someone without posting publicly.
A Hashtag; symbolically the # before a keyword in a Tweet creates a link, grouping together topics. #YYT for example will bring you to a list of Tweets from everyone who has used that hashtag in their post. Choosing a great hashtag, is an artform we’ll get into in another post.
Now that you’ve set up your account, it’s time to start following and getting followers yourself. Find other Twitter users by searching for them in the top right corner of the page, and once you click through to their page, select the Follow button. You are now following that page. Each page you follow will create the content that goes into your custom feed.
So, who should you follow? While that’s up to you, here’s a list of ideas;
- Your friends and family – a natural choice
- Leaders in your industry – to keep up on the trends
- People and businesses you admire – for inspiration and ideas on what to post
- Media outlets focused on your location and industry – a great source to ReTweet from
You’ll start to notice a few people following you back, but once you start Tweeting is when you’ll really see growth in the number of followers. Tell your other networks you’re on Twitter, mention it and add your user name to a post on Facebook, link your account to your website, and you can even put your username on traditional marketing materials like brochures, business cards, and ads.
Now you can start Tweeting.
When it comes to writing a great Tweet, as in every other social interaction – whether in person or online – you want to be engaging, entertaining, and offer value to the audience you’re talking to.
Each Tweet is a maximum of 160 characters long, as mentioned above, and every single one should be considered a brand expression. So, keep on message, deliver the same value you would if talking directly to a customer, and give them a good reason to follow you.
Remember to use the tools at your disposal, hashtags, ReTweets, and @’s to engage in conversation with your audience and other users – this will help you grow your follower base too.
Twitter is far more fun on the go, so download the app from your favourite app store and login, using your username and password. You can use the settings panel to determine which notifications you receive, like direct mentions of your brand, for example.
This way you can Tweet on the go, reply to messages instantly, and enjoy your feed in those moments when you want a little inspiration for your own posts.
A Few Bonus Twitter-Tips
- Twitter is best learned by using it, so don’t put too much pressure on every Tweet you write. Tweet as often as you like, as Twitter is fast moving and your users may not see every Tweet you post.
- You don’t have to read every Tweet. It will consume you if you try, just scroll and enjoy what works for you.
- Once you get the hang of it, start using lists to organize your Tweets. One for marketing, one for friends, one for the silly stuff that makes you laugh – your lists are up to you. Lists will help you focus on what’s important and will let you ReTweet stuff that’s really relevant to your audiences.
- Respond to everyone who reaches out. It seems like a huge undertaking, but until you’re established on Twitter, it’ll give you a chance to connect on a more personal level with those who have questions.
- Find a scheduler that works for you. There are plenty of options out there to help you schedule posts in advance; from Buffer to Hootsuite. Choose one you like and that’s easy for you to use because it means you’ll use it more often.
Welcome to the Twitterverse
Follow these steps to get set up on Twitter and you’ll have no problem bringing your brand into the Twiterverse. Have fun and enjoy meeting and interacting with this new audience and you’ll likely see benefits to your business.
Have I forgotten a step? Have a great story about your Twitter interactions? Have a hilarious first Tweet you want to share with me? Contact me! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter; @sheldon_payne