Twitter 101

Given that Twitter’s been around since July 2006 it’s easy to assume everyone knows how to use it.  But, assume can also be about making an ass/u/me.

I presented a seminar on social media the other day; the audience had only one person with a Twitter account and those that didn’t hadn’t because they didn’t know where or how to start.  What especially surprised me was that it’s not just the “oldies”; even the 20-somethings weren’t too sure on where to start.

Here’s a super-fast intro to Twitter 101.

If you’re contemplating using Twitter for your business (which I’d highly recommend) I suggest you start off with a personal account first.  This is what I did.  When I was ready to throw away my training wheels I launched @HaloBizNZ’s Tweet stream and haven’t looked back.

Twitter is free to set up at  All you have to do is follow the prompts and fill in all the blanks.  If your business already has a social media account elsewhere I’d recommend, if possible, to keep all your account names the same to help with brand recognition.  Your Twitter name can also be referred to as your ‘handle’ and is identified with the “@” preceding it, eg @waikatotimes.

Here’re some really basic things to be aware of when it comes to Twitter.

There’s an unwritten law that assumes when someone follows you, you follow them back.   Why you might ask.  Because that’s the way Twitter works; it’s just one of those social netiquette things.  Of course, if you’re a celebrity those rules don’t necessarily apply.

Some terms:  Twitter is the “space”, Tweets are what you create and send; Tweeting is the verb thereof.

You’ve only got 140 characters to state your case.  It’s therefore a good idea to keep your handle (name) short.  When it comes to Tweeting, every character counts; people won’t want to include you in their Tweets if you unduly compromise their ability to say what they want because your handle uses up lots of characters.

Once you’ve got your handle and your image sorted, the next thing to do is start Tweeting.  About whatever it is you do.  Not sure what to Tweet about?  You could start by converting your FAQs into 140 character Tweets.  Or attach your latest newsletter (yes – one of the many business benefits of Twitter is your ability to include attachments to Tweets – eg, photographs and hyperlinks).

However, while you’ve still got your training wheels attached and Tweeting personally (as opposed to professionally), start by Tweeting about your hobbies or interests.  The goal is to learn cause and effect; that is, watching what happens in the world-of-mouse when you do something.  Specifically, did you get the result you expected?

Tweeting on a regular basis (usually daily) for a few months should give you enough confidence to ditch your training wheels and launch your company’s Twitter account.  As with just about everything ‘social’ remember to be authentic, genuine and willing to converse with others.  Have fun!


This article was first written by Julie South for her fortnightly column on digital marketing in the Waikato Times.  Other Waikato Times articles on this blog.

Comments are closed.