4 Hints for Broadening Your Twitter View

Twitter is tech, so that must mean that it's stuffed with jargon and terminology right? Right. Now that you've learned some of the basics, it's time to broaden the view like we've suddenly discovered widescreen.

Let's broaden your social media view (image courtesy of  HDPaperz )

Let's broaden your social media view (image courtesy of HDPaperz)


Refresher Course

Before we dive in, lets have a quick refresh from 5 Top Twitter Tips for Newcomers about @ and #.

No, not the stuff for stoners, I'm talking about @ and #. If you look at Twitter, you'll see a lot of these symbols. Everyone with a Twitter account has a username that starts with @. For example, mine is@RocketPolishUK. If you were to put my username in a Twitter post (known as a 'tweet'), then that would 'address' everything else you write in that tweet to me. I would then be alerted that you'd tweeted to me. The # is used to create a tag. So if you put #socialmedia in a tweet, then everyone who searches for #socialmedia tagged tweets could see your tweet. Bear in mind though that while it's possible to communicate with anyone on Twitter via the @ it's not courteous to use it a lot with strangers. How would you like to get lots of messages from someone you don't know?

You can create your own #s to use in your tweets to tie them to a specific project. I use #RPmuses for every tweet that's part of my Dance with a Muse project to surround myself and others with motivational or positive thoughts. Susan Boyle's social media people created their own # for a party for listening to her then latest album. Somehow they made the mistake of not reading it properly, so #susanalbumparty was born. I'm sure you can spot what Susan Boyle's team missed!


To Reply or to Follow, To Favourite or to Retweet

To what or to what? Don't worry, it's all pretty simple. Take a look at the bottom of every tweet and you'll see the following:

Learn more about replying, retweeting, and favouriting on Twitter

Learn more about replying, retweeting, and favouriting on Twitter

The first icon is 'reply'. If you see a tweet that you want to reply to, then click on this and say what you've got to say. Remember to keep it classy though because the person who posted the tweet you're replying to, their followers, and your followers will see it. Behaving badly could harm both your brand and your individual reputation.

The second icon is 'retweet'. Let's imagine you've found something that you genuinely think others would be interested. Maybe someone's posted some great info on a topic you like to tweet about. A simple way of reacting to that is to click retweet, which means that it'll go out from your account (but marked as a retweet). This means that all your followers will see it and the original tweeter will be notified of the retweet. The more retweets, the more likely it is that it'll be discovered by others.

The third icon is 'favourite'. If you've found a tweet that you like, but don't think it'll be of any real interest to others, then you can still register your interest. Click on the star and it'll be listed as a favourite, and the original tweeter will be notified.

Finally, if you click on a tweet, it'll appear as the only thing on the screen. On the same line as the username, the @, you'll see:

What's 'Following' all about on Twitter?

What's 'Following' all about on Twitter?

If you click on this button then you become a 'follower' of the account. This means that you'll see everything they tweet, retweet, and favourite. This is obviously a great way of keeping track of someone who interests you.


The Hottest stars in town

I know, being told what's trendy is boring, but have a  read of this if you don't understand what 'trending' means. On Twitter's homepage, right beneath your username, is Twitter's 'Trends' window. It combines what's going on worldwide, and what's going on relative to your location and who you follow. In other words, there's an algorithm in the background trying to select at least some things that might interest you. Taking a look at mine right now, it looks as the worldwide outnumbers what's tailored to me by about 2.5:1. I'd prefer it if the ratio swung more towards what's being tailored to me, but never mind. It gives you a quick idea of what's popular on Twitter right now and social media is all about the 'right now'.

So what's the point of critical mass for Twitter trending? When does something shift from not trending to trending? No-one knows. As it's algorithm based, I'd be surprised if there was a fixed, Xeno-esque single point at which something can be said to be trending. I'd expect it to be a blend of:

  • What's popular right now vs yesterday
  • Search queries
  • Common text within tweets, including @s and #s
  • A high proportion on a particular subject

All just reasonable guesses of course and by no means complete. It's Twitter's intellectual property, so don't expect them to blab!


Searching for content on Twitter

Searching for content on Twitter

The Searchers

At the top right of the Twitter homepage is a search bar that allows you to search for all kinds of things within Twitter. It enables you to find accounts on Twitter, so if you're searching for someone's account, you can find it pretty easily. Just enter their name and you stand a good chance of finding them.

Also, you can use it to find popular hashtags. For example, if I go to the search engine and enter '#spr' then one of the options that comes up is '#spring'. If I click on it, then the most recent tweets with '#spring' in them will appear. This illustrates how you can use it to find what's going on with particular topics. Type in something that's relevant to your business and see what you can find. It also enables you to learn whether a hashtag is already being used currently. This could be vital if you're launching something, because the last thing you want is for your hashtag to point your followers to the wrong thing. The bakers, Entenmanns forgot to check this, leading to their promotion getting mixed up with reaction to a murder trial. Yes, it can be frustrating if every hashtag you can think of is already being used, but don't just plough ahead as the price you pay could be heavy


Sequel bait

So now you know the lingo, can favourite, retweet and follow, and search. Things are looking up, aren't they? See, it's not so complicated. Have a play with Twitter and see what you can find. There's more to come too, an inevitable sequel!

If you've just started using Twitter, how are you finding it so far? You can tell me in the comments, and like or share this post if you found it useful. You can let me know in the comments.