Understanding Twitter (Part 2)

Hashtags & Searching

Ever wondered what this twitter hashtag thingy is? Do you see people putting things like #bizitalk #competition #charity in their tweets & wonder what they’re for? Using hashtags like #followfriday or it’s shortened version #ff help spread information on Twitter while also helping to organize it. These hashtags can help with networking, either for businesses or individuals.  The #bizitalk hashtag is used by business to meet other businesses who retweet and spread the word to other tweeters, so if I tweet about a particular item I have available in the shop at a bargain price, it would only usually be seen by my followers.  By adding this particular hashtag among others, there is a greater chance for other businesses to retweet my tweet and then, their followers will see it too.  This obviously increases a tweeter’s audience in effect increasing followers.  Individuals use #hashtags to find ‘like-minded’ tweeters.  You may wish to find others who enjoy baking so you can search for a #baking twitter community. Or perhaps you are into running? How about the #runchat tag? You can network or follow other like-minded people on virtually any subject just by using Twitter’s search facility and then join in with conversations on that particular subject using a specific hashtag.  One important thing to remember is that if you want to start a trend on twitter with like minded people using your hashtag – keep it short but different!  If you are planning a village fete or some other event & want to spread the word & get people talking about it, you first need to search for the hashtag that you are thinking of using. If you are having a book club event – Just using #bookclub may not be good enough – there may already be lots of people using this hashtag so search for it.  Try to think of something that will make your hashtag individual.  When you have chosen, then tweet about your event using that hashtag asking if anyone else would like to join & that they should add this hashtag to join in. You will be surprised at how quickly you get like minded people using the tag. Of course, don’t overdo hashtags – It is a total waste of time to just put lots of hashtags in a tweet – as no substance is there to encourage people to retweet and after all, that’s the name of the game!  You don’t need a hashtag if you want to find people in your own town, Just search the name of the town and you will get a stream showing all the tweeters in that location.  The advanced page of Twitter’s search engine has an option to search ‘Near this place’, you can also stipulate within a certain distance, using certain hashtags (there’s that word again!) Or even state what language they tweet in!

Next time: I’ll start with a list of Twitter terminology that you may see in other peoples tweets that may or may not confuse you. Twitterspeak!


Understanding Twitter (part 1)


I don’t pretend to be an expert on Twitter, far from it! I just like to tweet & have found that people seem to like what I tweet, even the business stuff.  I wanted to write a ‘How to tweet’ in layman’s terms.  Something that will help people who are totally confused and sometimes frightened by twitter.  So if you are involved in SEO, or are a Twitter expert and/or someone who has been tweeting since the year ‘dot’ – this is not for you.  In fact you’d probably be appalled at the way I plan to describe it’s uses.  But this is my blog and I will write it how I see it!

This blog is for the young mum, who has her own little business and is scared to ‘dip her toe’ in the ‘Twitter pond’ because she is overwhelmed by the timeline that is whizzing down the screen.  It’s for the ‘facebooker’ who doesn’t see what benefits there are in just tweeting what in effect is a Facebook status every so often, and with limited characters at that.  It’s for the person who has heard about this twitter thing on TV & radio and doesn’t really care what celebrities are tweeting about but is curious about it’s popularity and uses.  They want to know what use is it to me? Who would be interested in what I have to say if they don’t know me?

Twitter describes itself as, “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”
Oh no Twitter!  It is much more than that! It is different things to different people and is also very addictive!
Individuals use Twitter for different reasons. (I’ll explain the possibilities next time)
Businesses use it to network with other businesses & to advertise their goods & services.
For me, it’s a chatroom, where I can interact & share with aquaintances, friends, family & yes, dare I say it strangers!  As a business, everyone is a potential customer, so it’s very important to me to interact & have lots of followers.  How do I do that? I try to entertain, I have competitions, I make friends, I retweet. It’s as simple as that!
So, in a nutshell,  it’s a way to link up with like-minded people – total strangers in a lot of cases.  But, unlike Facebook, they don’t have access to your life if you don’t tweet it!
In a way, it can be termed as mini Facebook status updates using a maximum of 140 characters (which can be a struggle sometimes when trying to get your point across! I tend to have to go over what I’ve typed changing ‘to’ into the number 2, deleting definite articles, using the number 4 instead of the word ‘for’ & so on.  I also get rid of spaces where I can and hardly ever use punctuation!  The final sentence usually makes no sense, particularly if I want to leave space for all the ‘hashtags’ that a business needs to include these days! (We’ll get onto the ‘importance’ of the ‘hashtag’ in the next blog.
Another use for Twitter which has caught on is the ‘Twitter Competition’ – A process whereby individuals (known affectionately as ‘compers’) retweet certain phrases which include a particular word using a (yes, you guessed it) ‘hashtag’ to be included in a prize draw run by a business.
So who benefits from these ‘Twitter Competitions’?  The winner, obviously!  The business?  Some would say no, but many think it a way to increase their Twitter presence which in turn increases their overall ‘Web’ presence & can bring more people to their website increasing sales & revenue.  So yes for business, Twitter is very much a form of advertising & getting a name or brand known.  Businesses ask people to follow them and to retweet their prize draw phrase to get a bigger audience & therefore, more followers & more retweets.  Needless to say, the ‘Twitter Competition’ is very popular.
So what is a Retweet or RT?
This allows Twitter users to share the best links, tweets, and gems they find from others using the service.  But for beginners, it’s not immediately obvious what retweets are, or what tools to use to make retweeting easier.  Under most tweets there are options available.  Using these options makes communication & actions easier & quicker – sometimes!

These are the main options available:

  • Expand or View Conversation, means you can open up the dialogue & see what was said previously in the conversation
  • Reply is pretty self-explanatory – If you would like to interact with this tweeter, you click here.
  • Retweet, the magic link that every business would like people to click, so that their tweet reaches even more people. Let me explain: An original tweet will be seen by the tweeter’s followers only.  If this is then retweeted, then it is seen by the retweeter’s followers too, if it’s then retweeted again – well, it can go on & on which means more people see that business tweet/advert & there is a bigger audience for that business.   Another way to retweet is to add the letters RT to a tweet which has been copied & pasted from another tweeter, but this must include their Twitter ID to show that it was their tweet originally.  This usually limits how much of the original tweet can be sent out, as the original tweet may have used the whole 140 characters allowed.  You may then need to readjust the original tweet to fit it in which defeats the object & can totally change the context of the original!  Much easier to use the Retweet link!
  • … More  This option can have lots attached to it’s drop-down menu or it can have very little.  It all depends on whether you are tweeting from a phone (be it an iPhone or Android), from a tablet or indeed a PC or laptop.  I’ve found that they all show tweets & tweeting options differently and there are some things you just can’t do unless you are on a PC or laptop!  Most of the options here are self-explanatory though, so I won’t dwell on them.

The main thing is that tweeting is and can be as sociable as Facebook and I believe it’s easier to meet other people who have the same interests (be it business or other) than it actually is on Facebook because of the ‘hashtag’ phenomenon.

More ‘Twitter Facts soon!


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