Twitter, a beginners guide


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This is an 'introduction to Twitter' that I gave for an internal team at Sky that were not well versed in social media. The aim was not to delve into strategy, but simply to provide a gentle guide to using the service, it's etiquette, conventions and best usage. Others new to the network may also find it useful.

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Twitter, a beginners guide

  1. 1. A beginner’s guideAndrew Dobson, Sky Creative Technology
  2. 2. The ConversationMicroblogging – what can you say in140 characters?
  3. 3. The rise of Twitter100 million + active users250 million + tweets per day and rising50% of users log in every dayDirect access to famous and influential peopleThe Tweeter is the centre of the conversation, channelling information to theirsphere of influenceMost users do not use Twitter’s website directly, but use clients on theirphonesThere are many subsidiary services which are used to augment the twitterservice – twitpic (photos and images), twitvid (video), URL shorteners,twitlonger etc.Twittiquette evolves out of the service’s use, it is not dictated by the businessor the technology. Use it wisely.
  4. 4. Why tweetTo tap into and contribute to the digitalpulse of information globally(And to laugh at Kanye West)
  5. 5. Getting startedHow to join the conversation
  6. 6. Choosing a nameKeep it short! Remember that your display name willappear in most clients anyway.Make sure you upload an avatar and fill in your profile –you’ll look like a spammer otherwise.
  7. 7. Who to follow?FriendsPeople who are useful, insightful or funnyRobots and servicesCelebsSpoofsAvoid spam and block immediately.
  8. 8. Consider your toneAre you going to be:Personal?Professional?A Broadcaster?A Conduit?If you find yourself covering very disparate tones, consider separateaccountsRemember that the majority of your followers probably don’t know youpersonallyFinally, it’s ok to just listen
  9. 9. Send a tweet!Type and send. You have 140 characters. There are twitter extendersbut don’t botherOne point per tweetAvoid ephemera - stick to concise opinions, insight, knowledgesharing and being funnyAvoid txtspk but don’t be verboseYou can also text (but I don’t know many people that do)
  10. 10. Anatomy of a Tweet
  11. 11. RetweetA retweet is essentially a shorthand for “I agree with this” or “I thinkyou’d also be interested in this”.Retweets appear in the timeline as if from the original author, even ifyou don’t follow them (but clearly indicated). RTs are how stories andcomments spread – don’t be reactive!RT vs Quote and etiquette. Always credit and add if you can. Shorttweets get retweeted more.
  12. 12. @@usernames generally used to address people directly. Beware of1:1 conversations though and take them to DM.@names are also used inline to reference people “Going to see@andrewdotdobson for a drink tonight”Many companies use accounts for information “@firstCC are theredelays at St Albans tonight?” This can be very useful for informationand to reach out to peopleTweets which start with an @ only appear in the stream of people thatalso follow the @person.
  13. 13. The hashtag# signifies a metadata “tag” which aligns your tweet to a particulartopic.They can be used #inline, or #tagged at the end of the post. #useful#twitter101Often used to signify sarcasm: “Really enjoying being pressed upagainst the window on the train this morning #fail #fml”Applications and campaigns use hashtags to collate relevant tweets(#hignfy, #gottodance, #qt). There is no lookup table, but you’ll pickthem up just by following others lead.
  14. 14. Trending topicsEssentially just “what people are talking about”Normally reactive to current eventsWhat’s on TV, breaking news, deaths, announcements all figurehighlyMedia, gossip and sport always trendCampaigns are rare, unless they’re very good or sponsoredBeware spoilers!
  15. 15. Hashtag gamesAlmost daily occurrenceQuickly get hijacked or fizzle out but will have high traffice.g. #6wordfilmplots: “Nemo gets lost. Nemo gets found.”
  16. 16. Twitter traditions• #ff Follow Friday – one person with an explanation please!• #mm Music Mondays – TUNES!• The fail whale – Twitter often goes over capacity and shows this fella• /via and HT (hat tip) – used to acknowledge sources, particularly off twitter• OH - Overheard• MT – Modified tweet (editing the original tweet before reposting)Traditions rise and fall all the time. Treat Twitter like joining a conversation ina pub with people you don’t know.
  17. 17. EtiquetteAvoid auto updates and cross posting to twitterAcknowledge people but don’t flood them (treat as you would a CC)Remember that it is a very public forum, even if you’re only following friends,and that the shortness of responses makes context very hard to set.DM if you’re having a 1:1 conversationMost companies monitor twitter for reputation management
  18. 18. EventsReal time events are where Twitter comes into it’s own.TV show feeds provide and alternate commentary to the programme (see TheApprentice, Question Time, Masterchef for good examples).Conferences, press events (like big tech launches) and breaking news storieswill always have lively coverageLearn to separate the signal from the noise and be wary of misinformationand the twitter echo-chamber
  19. 19. The APIsApplication Programming Interfaces allow developers and companies toleverage functions of the Twitter service without having to interface with itdirectlyTweetboards, Zeebox, data visualisation are all being used with increasingfrequencyTwitter is driving game shows, audience participation, polling, access to dataservices (like timetables etc) and providing direct access to consumers andbusinesses. Lots of creative applicationsThere are popular clients for every platform and device. iOS5+ has it built in.Many apps can also send updates directly to Twitter (i.e. Instagram)Find the client and useage that is right for you
  20. 20. Good luck!@andrewdotdobsonFurther reading: