10 tips for Twitter newbies

Posted on: March 31st, 2011

I’ve come across a few people in the past couple of weeks who are just starting out on Twitter, so I thought it might be useful to do a Q&A-style post to help answer any queries you may have if you’re a newbie.

1. What does retweet mean?

Retweet (or RT) means forwarding a tweet you’ve received to all your followers.

2. What’s a hash tag?

Hashtags (#) are really useful for searching specific conversations/topics. So, if you write a tweet that’s aimed at freelancers, you could add #freelancer or #freelancing to it and anyone who’s searching on those terms will see your message.

They’re also used a lot around events. So, for example, I went to a conference recently called Women Unlimited and everyone who tweeted about it used the hashtag #WUC2011. That meant, anyone who wanted to be kept up to speed about what was happening at the event simply searched #WUC2011 and they could see all the tweets relating to it.

Essentially, a hashtag allows you to find conversations about – and participate in – the subjects you’re interested in.

3. What’s #FF?

It stands for #Follow Friday and it’s a bit of fun that happens on a Friday. If there’s someone whose tweets you enjoy and you think others would too, simply write #FF and their Twitter name (with the @ symbol) and send it on a Friday.

4. What does ‘creating a list’ mean?

When you follow lots of people, it can be hard to read everyone’s tweets as there are just so many to scroll through. If you create different lists, you can read in one place everything that a specific group of your people is saying. For example, you could have lists such as ‘My friends’, ‘Web experts’, ‘Classic car enthusiasts’ – or whatever. Think of it as a filing system for your tweets.

If you click on the ‘Lists’ tab in Twitter, you’ll see ‘Lists by you’ (ie those you’ve created), Lists you follow (other people’s lists you’ve chosen to follow) and ‘Lists following you’. You can choose to make your own lists public or private.

5. What are Tweetdeck and HootSuite?

Like lists, they are ways of organising your Twitter feed – but better. That’s because you can also manage your other social media accounts from them. For example, I use Tweetdeck to manage my @CaroleSeawert and my @FreelanceFacts Twitter accounts, as well as my Facebook account. Saves me having to log in and out all the time.

With Tweetdeck, I have created lots of columns so I can easily see all my separate lists, as well as the results for any searches I have running. Both Tweetdeck and HootSuite are free.

6. How do you send someone a message that only they can see?

I always use Tweetdeck, so in Tweetdeck, if you hover over their photo four little icons appear: ‘reply’, ‘direct message’, ‘retweet’ or ‘other’. So click on the ‘direct message’ icon (which is an envelope). Or simply type D (upper case ‘d’) before their name instead of @. Only they will see that.

If you use Twitter.com for tweeting, call up the person’s profile and click on the ‘message’ tab. This will send a direct message to that person only.

Don’t forget that the person has to be following you back in order to direct message them.

7. How do I do a search on Twitter?

Go to search.twitter.com and type in what you want to search for (eg: chocolate cupcakes) and you’ll get a list of what’s just been tweeted about chocolate cupcakes. If you want to be kept up to speed on a daily basis, then create a hashtag #chocolatecupcakes (no spaces). If you use something like Tweetdeck. you can then create a separate column specifically for these tweets about chocolate cup cakes.

The great thing about searching on Twitter, is you can refine your search geographically so, if you’ve got a button shop in London, you can type London (or a narrower search) and see who’s tweeting stuff such as ‘Can’t find a silver button anywhere to match the one I lost’ and you can connect with them.

8. If I do an @reply to a tweet, does that just show on the page of the person who originally posted the tweet or can anyone who is following that person see it?

The people who are following both you and the person you’re replying to can also see that response. So, if you, Dan and Sue all follow each other, Sue will be able to see conversations between you and Dan. (But not if you’re sending a direct message – see above.)

9. Do you use Twitter for business or leisure?

Twitter is mainly a business tool, although you can tweet some non-work stuff so that your followers can see the ‘whole person’ and not just the business you. But it’s not like your Facebook profile where you post up all kinds of stuff that you know only your friends will see.

10. Facebook vs Twitter – why would you use both?

It’s not a case of either/or – having a Facebook business page (as opposed to a Facebook profile) and a Twitter account are two different ways of engaging with your audience.

If you’re new to the Twittersphere, you’ve probably got loads more questions, so feel free to ask them in the comments section below. I’ll reply to every comment, so do fire away. Best thing is to just start using Twitter – you can’t break it. And check out their FAQ page.

Related post: Five tactics for Twitter success

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3 Responses to “10 tips for Twitter newbies”

  1. Douglas Holland
    March 31st, 2011

    As always useful. If I attribute and Back Link can I use it as a PDF?

  2. Freelance FactFile
    March 31st, 2011

    Thanks Douglas. Yes, by all means you can use it as a pdf in return for an attribute and a back link. Could I ask you to add this text as well? (To prevent others from copying it and using it as theirs.) Thanks!

    Copyright © 2011 Carole Seawert

    Any further reproduction, copying, or other form of use of the information contained within this document is forbidden, without the permission of the author.

  3. Douglas Holland
    March 31st, 2011

    PDF With You via email

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