Since the launch of Twitter the almost redundant hashtag has now gained celebrity status, (and perhaps overuse syndrome) but what in fact is Twitter all about?
Firstly, what is Twitter all about?
Twitter is a social media platform where users share their thoughts, news, information and jokes in 140 characters of text or less. Twitter makes global communication cheap and measurable. Profiles are (usually) public — anyone in the world can see what you write, unless you elect to make your profile private. Users "follow" each other in order to keep tabs on and converse with specific people.
If someone is following you on Twitter it’s not necessarily an admission of friendship, but nonetheless affords interaction and conversation — at least in short bursts. The purpose of Twitter is to get your message out.
So what makes Twitter different to other social media platforms?
The short format of the tweet is a defining characteristic of the Twitter platform, allowing informal collaboration and quick information sharing that provides relief from rising email and IM fatigue. Twittering is also a less gated method of communication: you can share information with people that you wouldn't normally exchange email or IM messages with, opening up your circle of contacts to an ever-growing community of like-minded people.
Understanding and mastering Twitter Speak
There are certain words and jargon native to Twitter that you may already have heard in passing. These terms and their abbreviations are essential for understanding the Twitter Platform.
- Tweet: A 140-character message.
- Retweet (RT): Re-sharing or giving credit to someone else's tweet.
- Feed: The stream of tweets you see on your homepage. It's comprised of updates from users you follow.
- Handle: Your username.
- Mention (@): A way to reference another user by his username in a tweet (e.g. @retailconnectnz) Users are notified when @mentioned. It's a way to conduct discussions with other users in a public realm.
- Direct Message (DM): A private, 140-character message between two people. You can decide whether to accept a Direct Message from any Twitter user, or only from users you are following. You may only DM a user who follows you.
- Hashtag (#): A way to denote a topic of conversation or participate in a larger linked discussion (e.g. #retailconnectnz, #allblacks). A hashtag is a discovery tool that allows others to find your tweets, based on topics. You can also click on a hashtag to see all the tweets that mention it in real time — even from people you don't follow.
Tying it all together
While is can be a good idea to link your Facebook and Twitter accounts together (it certainly saves alot of time) in doing so the first 140 characters of your Facebook message becomes even more important. Social Media Platforms have different characteristics so tone and content are extremely important to ensure engagement across platforms.
Next week we will be looking at how to master the design changes to Twitter.