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Got a new computer and want to try tweeting?

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What is Twitter?
Published by Tim Gorringe at ethemagazine.co.uk

You’ve heard about it, people keep going on about it and you’re not the least bit interested in it are you?

But it doesn’t hurt to understand it and possibly even have a go – you know, just out of curiosity. The problem is, it’s a little bit like driving a car for the first time, you have to know a fair bit about it before you can control the thing, it’s not a natural human thing to do so you have to learn the basics and they are not always intuitive. I’m going to tell you a little bit about twitter and how to use it, I won’t go into detail because there’s a lot of it and there’s not enough space here, besides it’s been done better elsewhere – see the references at the bottom.

Twitter is very fast moving, started in March 2006 by a chap called Jack Dorsey and by 2007 had 400,000 tweets per quarter, 100 million per quarter in 2008, 140 million tweets per day! in March 2011 and is estimated now to be handling 340 million tweets daily from over 500 million active users.

Tweet – a message of 140 characters maximum, it can include weblinks, links to other users and hashtags (which I’ll come back to later), you can also attach pictures and video clips. Tell everyone that follows you what you are up to, but bear in mind I don’t need to know about your damned cat, I’m sure it’s lovely but it doesn’t make my day better – unless it’s falling off something and even then it’s marginal.

Retweet or “RT” – taking another users tweet and posting it again yourself, automatically crediting the original source, all your followers can now see that tweet. (It’s easy, there is a button for it).

TweetUps – a gathering of other Twitter folk – real people in a real place, sometimes with beer. Basically you all conversed on twitter and want to meet for real, possibly you want to see if you can build a business relationship and make some money or you fancy your chances and have taken the precaution of bringing ‘something for the weekend’, tweet about it – we all want to know the sordid details.

Trending Topics – these are ranges of subjects that loads of people are talking about, to include your message into a group like this you precede the topic with a hashtag but you have to leave out any spaces, e.g.: #michaeljackson or #willyenlargement (I can’t recommend this yet).

Lists – You can organise the people you follow into lists like: Eastbourne business, charities, jokes etc

Promoted tweets – a newish thing; you can pay to have a tweet shoved on everyones timeline whether you follow them or not, probably costs a lot.

Hashtags – Preceding a word with a ‘#’ creates a hashtag. A hashtag makes a certain word easily searchable. Caution! if you use a lot of hashtags then you will get lots of spam or spammy followers – they have no value so block them and report them as spam asap. Using words like iPhone and Justin Bieber can have a similar effect.

If you tweet only your followers can see it, if it is retweeted then all the followers of that person can see it too – and infinitum.
If you reply to someones tweet only you, them and the people that follow BOTH of you can see it (unless one of you or them retweets it). You can counter this by writing something before the @mention in your reply then it becomes visible to every one of your followers, a simple full stop will do.

If you set up a new account or even if you already have one or 2 set up, please please use a long password, the longer the better and never share it or use the same one on all the places you need a password – even if you change it subtly e.g. badgershavesmellybums = 21 characters which is not bad, but if you add TW to the end its a bit longer and enables you to have a unique password just for twitter, you could add FB for your Facebook account?
Lots of sites suggest you have an 8 character password with numbers, capital letters and the odd weird one like >;*^ etc, this is old school, nowadays hackers use a bunch of graphics cards which can crack any 8 letter password in under 3 seconds, 21 characters takes almost 21 seconds, so basically make yours not worth the bother of waiting.

Those are the basics.
The following is a little more for the business orientated twitterers.

If you think real people will follow you if you repeatedly tweet links to ‘fantastic offers!!!’ on your website then you’re naive.

So now you’re thinking “so how do I get real people following me?”. Well you show your personality, if it’s a poor personality just be nice and be human.

Tweet regularly but not too frequently (rumour has it 5 times a day is enough), tweet about yourself and your interests, current affairs, music, film etc and occasionally about the industry you’re involved in. Make it personal and link to your business site now and again (once a day-ish). Too many external links are a bad idea generally unless they’re VERY good, otherwise they’re wasting peoples time.

Re-tweet when you read something good. People like it when you re-tweet, it will get you brownie points and people are less likely to unfollow you as you become a valuable ‘follower generator’.
If you are going to tweet about your products be sincere and don’t sound like a weedy advert.

Example 1: Visit our website for the best deals on amazing stuffed badgers!!! http://www.link.com

Example 2: So I’ve just spent three hours adding some new badgers to our site, they are genuinely good, take a look if you get a chance: http://www.link.com (and sorry for being a tit)

So obviously the first one is a load of pants, the second one is less pants, the difference is that the second one is human, it will be tolerated by many and clicked on by a few. The first one will result in unfollows.

You need to follow people too, don’t follow every account though, read some of their tweets and look at where they are based, if they’re a real person and not a tit follow them back, it might even be worth saying hello to them, to show you’re a human being. Don’t follow thousands either, you have to limit it or you’ll never be able to engage or get to know the tweeters you are following.

Your profile picture… tricky one this… it’s always good to have a picture of yourself, especially if you’re good to look at. A picture adds personality to your account but then you also want to reinforce your brand so perhaps add a background to your account that shows your logo etc.

Search & Destroy.

Example. You search for “stuffed badgers” and find someone who has tweeted “I wish I could find decent stuffed badgers online”, don’t respond with “Visit our website for the best deals on amazing stuffed badgers!!! http://www.link.com” …and you burn! sorry about that.

Respond with something like “Hi Frank, Not wanting to be a spammy nerd (maybe change that bit) but noticed you’re looking for stuffed badgers and we sell them, let me know if you want more info.”

Give your badgers away.

Also give away free stuff but be clever about it, don’t just put a link to a competition page on your site, make it twitter orientated. And DONT give stuff away to your 200th follower it’s not fair on the 199 other poor sods that have stuck with you for months, they probably retweeted you and got you to 200 followers! it’s mean, don’t be mean.

Example: “The best tweet about badgers gets a signed stuffed badger from us.”

And then there’s stuff like including your twitter address on your website, emails and marketing material, and when you do sell something via another route ask the customer if they’re on twitter and get their username so you can send them a lovely thank-you tweet… sigh.

So do all this kind of stuff and you’ll build up followers, followers that will evolve to be your target audience, but don’t expect overnight results it will take a LONG time, but then imagine the value in having 2000 real humans following you who have a genuine interest in stuffed badgers.

Right that’s all I have to say, ultimately be a human.

Oh and buy my book, actually I dont have a book I just said that for a bit of spice, but you can follow me on twitter, I don’t abide by these rules, I just tweet absolute rubbish. https://twitter.com/agentgorringe or https://twitter.com/ethemagazine

ps, don’t get drunk and login, it has huge comedy value but you can undo years of hard work in minutes.

some of the places I stole this stuff from:
http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Twitter
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter
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