In the movie The Matrix there’s a scene where Morpheus asks Neo if he wants to know what the Matrix is. He goes on to say “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is – you have to see it for yourself.” Twitter’s a lot like that. We run workshops that help people use Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and WordPress all the time, but whenever Twitter comes up people seem have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept.
The irony is Twitter is the simplest of all the social media platforms – no widgets or plugins or tabs or apps or complex profile set ups. Create an account in seconds, and you’re off to the races. Updates, or tweets as they’re called, can be up to 140 characters. No problem there. The puzzlement sets in soon after the first tweet which typically goes something like this: “We’re on Twitter!”. It’s then that you quickly realize this is the most boring thing ever. Where are all the people? Where’s the engagement? Who’s seeing my posts? What’s the frequency Kenneth?
Simplicity turns to bewilderment which turns into apathy and then abandonment. The Twitter account you were so excited about last month is now an orphaned bird left to die a painless death, but don’t feel so bad – no one was following you so no one noticed. Reminds me of a tweet someone posted: “If someone with no followers tweets, does anyone see it?” The answer is a resounding NO!
Herein lies a key component to getting started with Twitter. In order to get noticed you must start following people on Twitter. Depending on your intent you’ll probably want to follow people based on their geography, interests, occupation or avocations. Twitter has a great search feature that let’s you find out who’s talking about what. Switch to the advanced and search local. This is a good tool to find people and companies on Twitter with specific types of interests. It’s also a great way to conduct market research.
It’s highly recommended to fill out your Twitter profile. Be sure to include a picture so people can get a feel for who you are. We’ve heard countless people say they will not follow someone without a profile picture. Once you start following people you’ll notice some follow back and some don’t . There are programs that will follow mass amounts of people, and then drop them if they don’t follow back. We DO NOT recommend any type of service like this. Where’s the value in having 60,000 followers that will never engage with you nor are interested in what you’re doing.
Twitter has three types of posts: your tweets, @ mentions and direct messages (DMs). Your Twitter handle is your account name with the @ symbol preceding it. For examples our company Twitter handle is @mmlabs
Your tweets are the things you post. Tweets consist of up to 140 characters, but use this real estate wisely. We recommend posting tweets with a maximum of 120 characters which makes them easily retweetable. A retweet (RT) is when someone takes what you tweeted and they send it out to all of their followers. It’s their way of saying I really liked what you tweeted. It’s the highest form a compliment someone can pay you.
When you want to converse with someone start your tweet with their handle. This indicates that you’re talking directly to them.
You can also mention someone indirectly by referencing them in your tweet by listing their handle somewhere in the post. Provided they’re listening when you mention someone they will get a notification.
Direct messages allow for private communication between two people. The interaction is private. Someone must be following you in order to send them a direct message (DM). Conversely, you must be following someone in order for them to send you a DM.
Like the Matrix, you have to experience Twitter for yourself. Go ahead. Take the red pill. In a future post we’ll take you further down the rabbit hole.