Twitter 101 handbook


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Here is a how-to guide for businesses (and even users in general) to get set up on Twitter. For more information on how to get started on Twitter, visit and

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Twitter 101 handbook

  1. 1. 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 brand. 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
  2. 2. you get started. Signing Up On Before you begin Tweeting on behalf of your brand, let’s get you signed up on Twitter. Employee Twitter Account Go to 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.
  3. 3. • 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.
  4. 4. 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 profile, though. 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 as you. • 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.
  5. 5. 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 materials. Glossary 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 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.
  6. 6. 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 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 conversations. 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 about: 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
  7. 7. 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 for more suggestions.
  8. 8. 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, 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 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.
  9. 9. Tweetdeck 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.) 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: 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. More resources: For a more extensive guide, consider purchasing Twitter for Dummies, co- authored by oneforty CEO/Founder Laura Fitton: Laura Fitton’s Twitter for Business 101 guide - For daily tips and recommendations of social media tools, visit For the web’s most comprehensive list of social business tools, visit
  10. 10. Social media blogs we recommend for your RSS feed: Mashable – Social Fresh – Brian Solis – Chris Brogan – Web Strategist by Jeremiah Owyang – HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog – Social Media Explorer – Social Media Examiner – Social Media B2B – Social Media Today – Smartblogs on Social Media –