Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Simplicity of Twitter

Written by  on April 17, 2012 

I like Twitter. It’s my favorite form of social media and connecting. If you’ve never been on Twitter, it can be hard to understand the concept. Actually, the first 30 days of using Twitter are a little confusing. It isn’t that there is a lot to learn, but grasping that it is as simple as it is can be mind-boggling. It’s easier if you think about it as more social and less media.

I know some of you are thinking, “Courtney, Twitter has been around for years. Everyone already knows all about it.” I used to think the same thing, but when I spoke to 60 really smart business women last Fall, less than 5% of attendees had a Twitter account. A handful had heard of Twitter and the rest looked at me like I was crazy taking about twits and tweets.

What is Twitter?

According to Wikipedia, Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”.

Why should you consider Twitter?

Like any social media platform, Twitter is not for everyone, but you’ll never know unless you try. Here are a few reasons to consider …

  • Twitter is simple. You don’t have to read a book or hire a social media expert to use Twitter. I think it’s much more user-friendly than Facebook or Google +.
  • Twitter isn’t time-consuming. Like anything else, you could spend mindless hours on Twitter, but if you follow the rules of engagement, use Twitter for good, and then get back to work, it can add value instead of steal time. I typically spend less than 20 minutes a day during the week on Twitter.
  • You can meet people on Twitter. If you like celebrities, you can see what they are thinking and ask them questions. Ok, bad example. You can connect with politicians. Uh, scratch that. What about authors, teachers, and specialists in fields that you care about? See who is talking about traveling, cooking or learning to knit.  I love meeting new bloggers, simple living advocates and writers. They are all 140 characters away.
  • People are nice on Twitter. Just like the grocery store, the people you meet on Twitter are usually nice. They can also be smart and helpful. When you encounter the opposite, a simple “unfollow” will suffice.
  • Twitter can help your business. This simple sharing format lets your clients/readers/people share the good (and bad) about you and your business. It’s word of mouth on fire.
  • Twitter replaces headline news. I hear about breaking news on Twitter before anywhere else. At that point, I can go deeper for details or move on.
  • Consuming information is manageable. If you follow 5000 people, you will experience information overwhelm. If you follow 50, you can manage what your tweeps have to offer. I suggest starting small. You can see who I follow here.
  • It’s easy to search on Twitter. Don’t know what to cook for dinner. Search for #dinnerideas. Need a little inspiration, search #inspirationalquotes.
  • It’s easy to share on Twitter. You don’t have to attach pictures, accept friends, create albums or anything but type up to 140 letters about what you would like to share.

You don’t have to be a social media expert to learn twitter, or know much at all, but here are a few common terms that will help.

Simple Twitter Terminology (From the Twitter Glossary)

  • Direct Message - Also called a DM and most recently called simply a “message,” these Tweets are private between the sender and recipient.
  • #FF - #FF stands for “Follow Friday.” Twitter users often suggest who others should follow on Fridays by tweeting with the hashtag #FF. (I think you should recommend others any day, not just Friday)
  • Hashtag - The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users.
  • Mention - Mentioning another user in your Tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username is called a “mention”. Also refers to Tweets in which your username was included.
  • Retweet - The act of forwarding another user’s Tweet to all of your followers. When you Type “RT” before someones user name and share their tweet. For example: I tweet, Twitter is cool. Then you retweet with RT @bemorewithless Twitter is cool.

I love Twitter for many reasons, but mostly because it’s simple and accessible and forces you to consider what you say. You can’t be wordy. If you are new to Twitter, say hi to me @bemorewithless, or ask a question. If you are a regular on Twitter, I want to hear from you too. If you don’t comment here, this blog can become a one way conversation. Twitter can change that.

Like most anything in life, you can make Twitter as simple or complicated as you like. Keep it simple and get started! If you have a Twitter account, please comment below with your Twitter profile url and description and what you think about Twitter so readers can connect with you too!

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