Twitter, the social networking micro-blogging service, is gaining popularity like wildfire. Everyone from celebrities, news entities, politicians, businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals like you and me, are using Twitter to connect with their publics. According to mashable.com, Twitter has an expected 1,192 percent annual growth rate. That’s astounding! On Kauai, businesses such as No Ka Oi Landscape Service (@NKOLandscape), The Grand Hyatt Kauai (@GHKPoipu), Deja Vu Surf Hawaii (@dejavusurf), and more are tweeting about the latest news and activities in their companies and industries, and even offering exclusive tips and deals for their tweeting customers (check out Bubba Burger @Bubba_Burger).
Ever since we opened an account on Twitter, people have been coming up to us to ask us how Twitter works. Twitter definitely takes some time to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fun and opens you up to a world of people and opportunities. To help you get started, here are our Tweet 16, the top facts and tips to help you get into the Twitterverse action.
- Twitter (www.twitter.com) is a micro-blogging site, which means that a Twitter post is limited to only 140 characters. That means each letter, space, symbol, etc. is counted as one character. In contrast, a blog post can be any length you wish.
- A post on Twitter is called a “tweet.”
- The original purpose of a tweet was to answer one question: “What are you doing?” However, tweets have now evolved to include anything from the link to their latest blog to asking questions (one woman asked the Twitter community if they could tweet her the city bus schedule on her route, and she got the schedule within minutes!), sharing business tips, and so on.
- Twitter is absolutely free! There is no fee to set up an account.
- Once you have a Twitter account, you will have a home page in the Twitter site that will feature your name, location, bio, people you follow, and people that follow you. You can post a message from your home page and check to see if anyone has mentioned you or sent you a direct message (more on this later).
- To keep tabs on topics, people, and organizations that are interesting to you, you can follow any Twitter user by clicking on the “follow” button found near their username. Following a user means that their tweets will filter in real time through to your home page so you can see the latest about what they’re doing, thinking, eating, etc.
- In turn, any Twitter user can follow you.
- All Twitter usernames are always prefaced by the “@” symbol when featured in any tweet, regardless if you are addressing that user or just mentioning something about them. For example, if you were referring to a stay at The Grand Hyatt Kauai, you would say “Had a wonderful weekend vacationing @GHKPoipu!” And, you can get to any user’s home page by going to www.twitter.com/USERNAME (e.g. www.twitter.com/GHKPoipu).
- You can reply to any Tweet at any time. When viewing a tweet, have your cursor hover over the right side of the post and a swooping arrow will appear. Click on that arrow, and you can reply to that user about their tweet. Remember that anytime you reply to someone, your reply is public. It will appear on your public timeline, or profile, as it is referred to from your home page, for all to read. Replies must stay within the 140 character limit.
- To privately send a user a message, you can send a direct message. However, you can only direct message someone if they follow you. If not, the only way to communicate with them is via a public reply.
- To make it easy for you, any time your username is mentioned on Twitter, it will be cataloged in your @yourusername menu item on the right side of your home page.
- A retweet, or RT, is when one user repeats what another has posted because they like, agree with, or want to emphasize the content of the tweet. When retweeting, begin the post with RT and the @username followed by their tweet.
- Twitter is a community based on reciprocity. Top twitterers follow those that follow them, join in on the conversation, don’t tweet only about themselves or what serves them, and add value to others. Sure, you can observe and take a back seat as you’re becoming familiar with tweeting, but once you are, participate!
- As with any social networking medium or electronic messaging system, Twitter has its share of spam, or junk tweets. You’ll learn to recognize and filter these out of your home page. In these cases, especially for spam harassers (spammers that won’t leave you alone), you will want to block these users.
- Along the same lines, treat Twitter as you would any electronic public forum and be careful with your personal, private information. One individual’s house was burglarized after tweeting that they would be on vacation.
- Now that you have the basics on Twitter, if you’re still not quite sure you understand it, don’t feel badly. We experienced the same feeling. We had been reading about and observing Twitter for some time before we actually signed up. It wasn’t until we jumped in and tried it that we got the full gist of it. And, we are still learning new things as we go along. So, if you have an interest in tweeting, try it out. It’s the perfect way to understand and become a proficient twitterer.
We hope these Tweet 16 tips are a helpful introduction to Twitter. Let us know if you have more questions. For now, we’re off to check out the latest news from The Garden Island (@thegardenisland), the weather from Guy Hagi (@GuyHagi), what Augie T (@augz1) is up to, where Ron Margolis (@RealtorRon) will be playing jazz next, what Giada De Laurentiis (@GDeLaurentiis) is cooking up in her kitchen, any new listings from Kymry Perez (@KymryPerez), what’s new at the Kauai Humane Society (@KauaiHumane), the latest from Ukulele Underground (@UUrayan), what Demi Moore is doing tonight (@mrskutcher), how to boost our website functions from kauaichelle (@kauaichelle), and getting a coffee question answered by Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks). …Oh, and when you get on Twitter, feel free to follow us at @FMPR. Tweet us, and let us know you read our blog. We’ll follow you back! Tweet out!