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Twitter for newbies

Twitter Basics for Newbies: Is Twitter Enough?

Today in a consultation a client asked me whether Twitter was enough to be found on the Internet and spread their message, or if they should be utilizing additional social media platforms. The answer to this question may differ depending on who is asking, but the short answer is: Yes, one social media profile can be enough, and Twitter is as good as any.

If you have the means to invest in a robust social media marketing plan and engage with an expert to manage and implement your vision then by all means do not limit yourself to a single platform! There are real drawbacks to choosing just one social media platform, mainly that you are limiting your audience size. Some folks might maintain active profiles on all of the most commonly-used social media platforms, but most of them are only engaging in one or maybe two. If you want to cast the widest net possible, you should reach out to multiple platforms.

However, most of us live in a place called reality where we do not have the social media marketing budget our vision deserves. We need to be strategic in our planning and intentional in our actions. If you are brand new to social media and doing it all on your own you are likely limited in the amount of time you have to dedicate to creating profiles and generating new content. It is better that you pick one and do it well than to try to do too much, not be able to keep up and give up on social media entirely.

There are apps out there that claim you can create one post and it will automatically share it with multiple platforms, but please do not believe them. Each platform has different character limits and image size requirements. More importantly, each platform is its own community with a distinct audience and culture. People are not going to Twitter to see links to your Instagram post, and they are not going to Facebook to sift through a pile of hashtags. An occasional cross-platform post may be called for every now and then, but checking the “also post to…” box is not winning you any followers.

What is @?

In the Twitterverse the @ (at symbol) signifies a username or handle. You can change your username, but you should not do so willy-nilly. Your username is a big part of your Twitter identity, and also used in the URL for your profile page. For example, my twitter username is @JTEComms and you can find my profile at https://twitter.com/JTEComms.

When you are composing a tweet (post) you can “tag” other accounts by including their username with the @ symbol. This is known as a mention. When you mention an account in your tweet the handle will automatically become a hotlink to that user’s profile, and that user will be able to see that you mentioned their page in their analytics. Think of it as a shout-out or a namedrop. It alerts them that you are talking about them while drawing their attention to your account, and allows your followers to easily connect with their content.

Alternatively, if you start out your tweet with a username it is as though you are speaking to that person directly. This is not the same as a direct message, which is a private message that goes only to them. This is more like calling out their name in a crowded restaurant to get their attention, and everyone else in the room can hear it, too.

What is #?

Twitter is all about hashtags (#)! Similar to the @ sign, when you put a # in front of a word it creates a highlighted hotlink. Clicking on that link will bring up a list of every tweet that contains the same tag. You can use hashtags to find people who are talking about the subjects that are important to you and your brand. And you can put hashtags in your posts to help other people find you.

Another way to think of hashtags is like an exclamatory summary of your post. If you have any millennials in your circle you may have already heard this leak into conversation. “Molly’s dad just bought here a new car. Hashtag daddy’s girl!” (In Tweet form that would be #daddysgirl – no spaces or punctuation in your hashtags).

Don’t go crazy – try and keep it to a max of three. And don’t feel like you need to use them in every post.

Engagement

In order to build goodwill on Twitter and create your own community you need to engage. This means you need to follow relevant accounts, reply to their tweets and retweet their posts (share their tweet on your own feed for your followers to see). Follow a few topics relevant to your industry and join in the conversations!

Do try to remember when using Twitter for your business to stay on brand. This is not your personal Twitter account, and unless you are an animal-related organization you should not flood your feed with cat pics. Remember what your vision is and ensure that your posts, comments and retweets reflect that.

Have more questions about Twitter? Or other social media? Let’s talk!

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