What is Twitter? Twitter is a social networking site that allows its users to microblog. This means that they can broadcast short messages of up to 140 words called ‘Tweets’ to their followers. These Tweets can include links to other sites and photos, as well as being able to tag in other Twitter users if the message is about or to them. Twitter is used by individuals, businesses, charities, celebrities, politicians, journalists and many more. It’s a great marketing tool to keep your followers updated and for you to get the latest updates from your relevant field.
You can set up a Twitter account using your name and email address and then you can set a password and a username. Your username will be unique to you to help other Twitter users identify and send you Tweets and messages. Your username would look like ‘@mytwitter’. This can always be changed at a later date. Once you’re setup you can add a profile photo and write a short biography about yourself and your business.
Twitter allows you to follow other Twitter users and view their Tweets. You can follow anyone from Lady Gaga to parody accounts of George W. Bush to friends and family. When you are on someone’s profile, just click ‘Follow’ and your will immediately be kept up to date with their Tweets in your Twitter feed, located on your ‘Home’ page. Other users can also follow you and any Tweets that you send. If you have concerns about privacy then keep reading as this will be looked at a bit more.
Tweets are short broadcasts that will appear in the ‘Home’ screen of anyone who follows you. It’s important to bear in mind that your Tweets aren’t only viewable to your followers, but anyone on Twitter. With millions of Tweets broadcast every day there’s minimal chance that anyone will pick up on yours, but they can be found if another user searches keywords and you’ve used those keywords in your Tweet. It’s always important to remember that with the internet, nothing you write is ever truly private, and the same goes with Twitter.
Hashtagging is a key feature of Twitter that allows users to interact and join conversations on a specific topic, even on a global scale. When a particular topic is discussed on a large scale, it is referred to as ‘Trending’. For example, many TV programmes will provide viewers with a hashtag link such as #tvshow and their account username @tvshow. This allows Twitter users to Tweet about the show and use the #tvshow to make their Tweet available to anyone who searches that keyword. By tagging in the TV show itself with @tvshow they can link their Tweet directly to that tv show.
Twitter was just one of the important social networking sites in the Arab Springs as it allowed the protesters to communicate what was happening, where and at what time. By using the # and @ features they were able to spread their message globally and send photographs and videos of what was happening before their government were able to stop it. This in itself acted as the perfect PR tool to get their stories to the media worldwide.
The internet always poses concerns with privacy and Twitter is no exception. As mentioned above, it’s important to remember that your Tweets are viewable to anyone unless you choose otherwise. You can stop your Tweets being viewable to anyone other than those designated by following these steps:
- Click the profile icon on the top right next to the search box
- In the drop down menu select ‘Settings’
- Under ‘Tweet Privacy’ select ‘Protect my Tweets’
Another security measure on Twitter is being able to block other users. You may wish to do this if maybe your boss follows you on Twitter and you’re gonna be pulling a sick-day next week or a spambot account with a silly (randomly generated) name like Buyus Philmen follows you. Twitter also allows you to report an account as spam. You do this by viewing their profile and next to the ‘Follow’ button select the arrow with the profile icon. This will give you a drop down menu with the bottom two options being ‘Block@blahblah’ and ‘Report @blagblag for spam’.
Twitter is based in San Francisco, U.S and was created in March 2006 with its original name to be ‘twttr’. One of its founders Jack Dorsey said “…we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.” Dorsey posted the first Tweet on March 21st 2006 at 21.50 pacific time, which read “just setting up my twttr”.
Do you use Twitter to promote your business? Use the comment section below to share your experiences and let us know if there’s anything you’d like to add to ‘what is Twitter’.