Twitter 101 Handbook
What is Twitter?
Twitter is an information network. Millions of people use it to post Tweets, which are
public, 140-character status updates. They follow the Tweets of other people and brands
to stay up-to-date on what’s happening. People Tweet about what they are doing.
People Tweet about:
• Where they are going to
• What news article they are reading
• A song they are listening to
• The TV show they are watching
• What they are thinking
Twitter is also a communication and networking tool. Users can send direct, public
messages from one user to another or direct private messages.
Why Should We Be on Twitter?
Twitter is a remarkably effective communication tool for businesses. With Twitter, you
can find current customers talking about your brand and potential customers talking
about your industry. By engaging them in a conversation you can generate leads for
your business and grow a community of evangelists who will tell their friends about your
You want to hear from your customers, and your customers want to hear from you on
Twitter too. People follow business Twitter accounts to hear company updates, special
deals and to feel connected to a human voice behind a brand that they love.
We are discovering new uses for Twitter for business each day. Software companies
resolve support issues via Twitter, local coffee houses take orders through Twitter, and
some companies recruit talent by networking on Twitter.
You can use Twitter to:
• Listen to what people are saying about your brand and industry
• Professional development: network with like-minded peers in your field, see what
articles they are reading and what conversations they are having
• Promote your content (blogs, webinars) and drive traffic to your website
• Share company news and special offers
• Generate buzz about an event
• Develop direct relationships with journalists and bloggers for PR
There is a very real purpose for your company to be on Twitter, and these steps will help
you get started.
Signing Up On Twitter.com
Before you begin Tweeting on behalf of your brand, let’s get you signed up on Twitter.
Employee Twitter Account
Go to Twitter.com and click where it says Sign Up.
Selecting a Username
• Claim your @firstnamelastname on Twitter. If you have a common name and that
isn’t available, try to get your first initial and last name, or something similar.
• Don’t go for something like @John9565 or something like an AIM screenname,
this is perceived as old fashioned.
• Avoid using underscores when selecting a Twitter handle. This isn’t necessarily
bad, it’s just not done very often so people may forget to put the underscore in
your username and you will be difficult to find on Twitter.
Next, you’re going to see a page where you can find people to follow according to your
interests. You can skip that part for now if you’d like, but we suggest coming back to this
later as it is a helpful tool to find interesting people to follow.
After that, you’ll see a screen where you can import your Yahoo, Gmail or LinkedIn
contacts and follow them on Twitter. We certainly recommend this as it will immediately
give you some familiar faces to follow and connect with.
After this you will be taken to your home page, where you are officially ready to start
Tweeting. We recommend you first go to the Settings tab at the top and complete your
Completing your profile
• Select a close-up of your face for your picture.
• Bio: Complete your bio with your job title, company and other interests. Including
this makes you more appealing to potential followers who share similar interests
• For the URL, link to your LinkedIn, blog, or company website.
• Don’t protect your Tweets – it’s easier to connect with more people by not
protecting your updates.
Go to the Design tab under settings to select a custom
background and colors for your sidebar.
Company Twitter Account
Follow the same initial sign up and customization flow to set up a company Twitter
account. Here are a few things to keep in mind for company accounts:
• Claim a Twitter handle using your company’s name.
• Select a square version of your company logo for the picture.
• Bio: You have 160 characters for your company description.
• Link to your company website for the URL.
• Don’t protect your Tweets – it’s easier to connect with more people by not
protecting your updates.
• Your Twitter page is an extension of your brand. Use the Design tab to create a
Twitter page that is consistent with the rest of your brand. Refer to your branding
guide to find out your CSS color codes and choose colors that match your other
There’s a little bit of lingo in this new Twitter world. The terms you need to know are:
Avatar – This is just a fancy word for your profile picture.
cc – Sometimes you will see someone cc’d on a Tweet. This is almost like someone is
“tagged” in a Tweet the way someone can be tagged in a picture on Facebook.
Twitter client – This is a third party tool used to send updates to Twitter. The most
popular tools include Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Seesmic and CoTweet.
Direct Messages - A direct, private message to another user. Also called DM’s.
Favorite – You can “favorite” Tweets and view your favorite Tweets at http://twitter.com/
username/favorites. For example, this may be helpful for bookmarking Tweets of links
you want to read later.
Follow – This is Twitter’s equivalent to “friending” as in Facebook. When you follow
someone, it means you subscribe to their Tweets. When someone follows you, they
subscribe to your Tweets.
Handle – This is your Twitter username
#hashtags = Tagged terms, helpful for search. People most often tag events, trends,
and locations. (Example, tagging a comment about the weather in Boston with #Boston
would be appropriate.)
h/t – “hat tip” – This may be used when someone Tweets a great article and you Tweet
the link and you want to refer to where you got the article from. It is considered good
Twitter etiquette to give credit like this.
RTs = ReTweets, or repeating someone else’s Tweet, to show you agree with them
Unfollow – This is unsubscribing to someone’s undates. It is somewhat the equivalent
to “unfriending” someone on Facebook.
@replies - a direct, public reply to another user.
Tip: If you start a Tweet with @Zappos, only your followers who also follow @Zappos
will see that update. Want everyone to see that Tweet? Use the .@ trick and start the
Tweet with .@Zappos.
Twitter Lists – This feature lets you create a list of people. This is helpful for
categorizing the people you follow. For example, you might create a list of your
coworkers that you follow on Twitter, as well as a list of the news outlets that you follow.
Twitter Search - Search bar at the top of Twitter.com. Use this to search what people
are saying about current events, trends, brands, topics, places, people, etc. You can set
up saved searches for any of these things in a Twitter client and monitor the
Via – This is similar to “hat tip” – it’s another way to refer to where you got an article or
idea from. It’s considered good Twitter etiquette to credit others.
What Do I Tweet About?
Now that you are signed up, it’s time to start Tweeting. But what do you say? Tweet
1. What you are thinking – Tweet a random thought, observation, or opinion.
2. Where you are going? Where are you shopping, eating, or seeing a movie?
3. What you are doing? Tweet about what you are making for dinner. Tweet about
the class you are taking at the gym.
4. What are you watching on TV? What song are you listening to on Pandora?
5. What you’re reading – Reading an interesting or helpful article? Share a link with
your followers. (Shorten your URLs with Bit.ly)
6. Share your content – promote your blog article, webinar, ebook etc
7. Promote other people’s content (and say it was helpful!) – this is a good way to
build relationships and network on Twitter.
8. ReTweet what other people say if you agree with it – this is good Twitter etiquette
as it helps build relationships with others.
9. Send an @reply – Say hi to someone on Twitter or tell a blogger that you like his
or her article. This is good Twitter etiquette because, again, you are building a
relationship with another person.
Something to keep in mind: With only 140 characters, you are forced to be concise. If
you are going to express a strong opinion on a controversial topic, it is easy to be
misunderstood in such a confined message. That said, don’t be afraid to be yourself on
Twitter. Have fun with it! Just remember that your Tweets are public, and even if you
delete a Tweet it is still indexed by search engines.
But Who Will Read My Tweets?
You’ll need to get followers in order to have people read your Tweets. The trick is, in
order to get followers, you have to follow people first.
Find People To Follow
Follow people whose Tweets you are interested in reading. They may work in a similar
industry, share the same hobby as you or live in the same area. Use tools like Listorious
to find Twitter lists of people listed in topics of your interest. Social media blog Mashable
also has a great Twitter list directory. You can also check out directories like WeFollow
and Twellow to find relevant people to follow. Last but not least, check out the Who to
Follow tab at the top of Twiter.com for more suggestions.
Don’t follow too many people at once. Twitter has rate limits – your following/follower
ratio can’t go over a certain number (around 2,000) or they will shut down your account.
Also, it’s seen as bad Twitter etiquette to follow people just because you are seeking a
follow back. It’s a funny thing on Twitter: if your following/follower ratio is imbalanced
either way (either you are following many more people that are following you or you
aren’t following back anyone who follows you) this is usually seen as a red flag to
potential followers. Strive for a balanced number, but most of all, strive to make real
connections on Twitter and build real relationships with your growing network.
Beginner to Intermediate: Using a Twitter Client
Once you have developed a consistent habit of Tweeting each day and started to follow
some people, you should consider downloading Tweetdeck or trying Seesmic or
Hootsuite. These are Twitter clients, third-party software built off the Twitter API that
send your status updates to Twitter. The interface is different than Twitter.com, and will
help you track conversations better. They split your Twitter stream into separate
columns, and are better equipped than the single-stream functionality of Twitter.com to
handle your growing network. Sync your Twitter lists into a column on a client like
Tweetdeck to view your Tweets in an organized way. You can also create a column for a
search for your brand, or a search for an industry-related term.
In addition, there are many clients out there for you to use to Tweet from your phone.
(Or, if you send a Tweet as an SMS message by texting your Tweet to 40404.)
oneforty.com is the web’s most extensive listing of these tools and should be your go-to
resource for when you are ready to explore the ecosystem.
Sticking With It
Twitter can seem daunting at first. It is different than most online tools that you’ve used
before. This article is very helpful in explaining what you will most likely go through when
you first sign up: http://on.mash.to/9tqZGw
You may have tried Facebook or Myspace, which are based on following the updates of
people with whom you have existing connections. Twitter is different. Finding your
Gmail or LinkedIn contacts on Twitter will be helpful, but for the most part, Twitter is
about making new connections and following the updates of people you don’t know yet.
Ignore that “don’t talk to strangers” advice you got as a kid, and get used to the idea of
networking with new people. Once you get past the initial hump and gain followers to
interact with, you’ll lose that sense of your Tweets going into a black hole and start to
see how connected you are through Twitter.
For a more extensive guide, consider purchasing Twitter for Dummies, co-
authored by oneforty CEO/Founder Laura Fitton: http://amzn.to/bDVOLF
Laura Fitton’s Twitter for Business 101 guide -
For daily tips and recommendations of social media tools, visit
http://oneforty.com/blog. For the web’s most comprehensive list of social
business tools, visit oneforty.com.
Social media blogs we recommend for your RSS feed:
Mashable – http://www.mashable.com
Social Fresh – http://www.socialfresh.com
Brian Solis – http://www.briansolis.com
Chris Brogan – http://www.chrisbrogan.com
Web Strategist by Jeremiah Owyang – http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/
HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog – http://blog.hubspot.com
Social Media Explorer – http://socialmediaexplorer.com
Social Media Examiner – http://socialmediaexaminer.com
Social Media B2B – http://socialmediab2b.com
Social Media Today – http://www.socialmediatoday.com
Smartblogs on Social Media – http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia/