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Twitter is an online social networking site commonly used for public or broadcast communication. It is great for: following leaders in your field and establishing yourself as a leader; keeping up to date with news within your industry; making new contacts; gaining media attention; and being a source of news for your industry or target audience.

What are Hashtags?

A hashtag is a label for content and may look something like this: #socialmedia or #smallbizmarketing. When you create a hashtag it immediately becomes a clickable link. Twitter automatically aggregates tweets that share the same hashtag, helping others who are interested in that particular topic to quickly find more information related to the hashtag. Make sure you use appropriate keywords for your hashtags so your tweets are easily searchable.

If starting out with Twitter, here are some important points to consider:

  1. Be Short and To The Point!
    You can only post 140 characters (letters, symbols & numbers) in a post or what is known as a ‘tweet’. This has an advantage of keeping your posts to the point, ensuring they will be read amongst all the other thousands of posts that followers may browse for. If you want to have a conversation on Twitter it is similar to Facebook, a short, public, back and forth exchange. Alternatively, private messaging, known as Direct Messaging (DM) is also possible on Twitter. You must be following each other before you can send a DM.

  2. Fill Out Your Profile
    Make sure you spend some time filling out your profile. If you’re representing yourself include a great photo of yourself for your personal profile. If representing your business, use your business logo as the profile picture – definitely don’t stick with the default ‘egg avatar’. Have a look at how others in your industry have set out their profiles and what they say about themselves. Try and make your profile look as engaging and interesting as possible.

  3. Grow Your Followers
    Be happy to start small. Start following other users by putting a search term of people or topics that are of interest into the search bar. You will soon get suggestions of people you might like to follow based upon who you are already following. You could search for common keywords that you think might be searched by your customers or are common in your industry. In no case should you buy followers! That is a sure way to lose legitimacy on Twitter.

  4. Be Quick to Respond
    News breaks on Twitter before it breaks in mainstream media. News can be instant and on the spot. If you are going to really embrace Twitter, it requires you to also respond quickly. You don’t have to spend all day on Twitter, you can dip in and out, but if you respond to a tweet or a DM it should be within a day or you could be seen to be out of touch. You can set up alerts within Twitter that push a notification to your app or email, alerting you when you receive a DM or reply.

  5. Remember, it’s Public!
    The default setting means that your tweets are public and could therefore end up on mainstream media. So be very careful what you say. Media often use tweets as quotes in their news articles. Be aware of your public image and be genuine, personable and maintain integrity at all times. There is a private messaging option (called Direct Message or DM) and also an option to ‘protect’ your tweets, meaning that they are only viewable to people who you’ve permitted to follow you.

  6. The Twitter timeline:
    Twitter timelines or ‘feeds’ typically appear as a stream of alternating paragraphs. Your organisation’s Twitter ‘full profile’ page can be tailored to closely resemble the branding of your website. 

ACCAN’s Twitter Profile Page

This image shows ACCAN's Twitter  profile page. It features contact details (Twitter 'handles') for staff, indicators for topics under discussion ('hashtags'), and a sign-up facility for visitors to join Twitter."

 

Twitter usage - excerpts from Case Studies

The following are short clips from two of our case studies highlighting practical usage of Twitter:

Case Study: Arts Sector – Helen Perris 

Helen Perris, singer, song writer and music teacher says: “I’m probably, you could say, I’m a Twitter addict. I’m on Twitter every day.” She has about 1300 people following her on Twitter.

 Case Study: Education Sector – The Cyber Safety Lady

Leonie Smith, ‘The Cyber Safety Lady’ uses Twitter “when I’m initially taking the bookings, and then... strategically up to the event, promoting it.”

  

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