/ Crash Course: What Twitter Is and How to Create Shareable Content

Twitter is a free social network that is so simple, yet profound. In the seven years of its existence, Twitter acts as a real-time news source, communication channel, sharing mechanism and trend machine all in one.

Twitter can be a useful communication tool during a crisis. It can also fuel protests. It blows my mind that news anchors are now talking about what people are tweeting, whether about celebrities or global affairs.

You may be new to social media marketing and asking yourself, “What the hell is this all about?” “Why use Twitter when traditional public relations can get us publicity?”

Why I Use Twitter: It’s an easy way to search current news trends and to catch up with friends and even celebrities. It’s intriguing how much closer Twitter makes users feel to famous people. As a PR professional, it’s also a way to connect with journalists. From an editorial standpoint, Twitter is a content mover and relationship builder.

Why and How Twitter Began: A tweet is 140 characters. The original idea behind Twitter was that the founders wanted to share “happenings” by text message (which were 140 characters before smartphones) to groups of people. Talk about a brainstorming session that actually went somewhere.                                                                                   

Conversations and Sharing: Twitter is all about sharing with your friends and followers (one of the many reasons it’s dubbed a “social network”). What you need to use nine times out of ten are hashtags and links.

What’s a #HashtagThese categorize your post so others can find it. For @STCAssociates, since we are a global branding firm, we post #branding, #marketing, #socialmedia, #infographic, etc. to categorize information that is relevant in our industry. Why not follow us?

Twitter trends are based on hashtags. That’s why you see what’s trending in the Twitter navigation bar at all times (see right). Promoted trends cost a pretty penny (over 100K) and are successful if you have the right budget and reputation.

Retweet (RT): A retweet is a way of saying “Your message is kickass, so I’m going to share it with my followers.” A retweet is exciting news if your “retweeter” has 50 followers or 50,000. This equals more exposure for your message. Feel grateful for RTs, and don’t forget to give credit when you RT others’ content. It’s only polite.

Links: Twitter automatically sizes down links to 20 characters. (Now you only have 120 characters, not 140, to get your point across). Sites like bit.ly shorten your links, and you can track how many people have clicked on your link. When creating Twitter content, use a character count website, which helps tremendously to craft  text-limited messages.

The Math Behind Tweeting Purposefully: Aim to make your main message 100 characters or less (120 including a shortened link). If someone wants to retweet you, your Twitter handle (@ + username) will fit in their RT. If someone wants to share an article with a friend, their twitter handle will fit. I call this “Room for Sharing.”

Tweet (140 characters) – Link (20 characters) – Room for Sharing (20 characters) = 100 characters 

Extra Tips:

  • Only aim for one key message in a tweet. Aiming for multiple messages makes it confusing and irrelevant.
  • Don’t “over hashtag.” Three should suffice. It’s not Instagram where you can put 30 hashtags.
  • Don’t badmouth on Twitter. It will come back and bite you in the butt.
  • Do practice retweeting and having conversations with other users.

I Challenge You, Twitter Noob: Try tweeting three times per day for two weeks. You’ll see what’s trending, who’s popular and what is going on in the world as it happens in real-time. It helps! Participate through external apps (Instagram, Foursquare, etc.) and just tweet your thoughts. You can simply link these apps through settings.

#ConfessionI was new in the Twitter game at one time, too. When I first opened my Twitter account as a requirement for a social media class, I despised it. I thought Twitter was the silliest concept. Then I started reading Mashable and began really keeping up with the social network. I began noticing Twitter’s importance in the grand scheme of things.

Conclusion: Twitter has evolved tremendously since its inception. It’s a way to communicate market and build relationships on a small scale. For a more comprehensive guide on how to begin, from Sign Up and onward, check out Mashable’s article, “Twitter for Beginners.” You can’t become a social media maven if you don’t try!

To see some of our work, from New York to Mumbai, visit the STC Associates website.

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About Christine Borkowski

Christine Borkowski is the Digital Marketing Lead at STC New York, specializing in digital media. She's seen award-winning projects through from brainstorm to execution working with clients like Accenture, Voss Foundation and Activision. She's a city-loving beach bum whose interests include tech, music and comedy. Marketing communications piqued Christine's endless curiosity at James Madison University (Go Dukes!). Twitter: @Chrissy_Cecilia
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