What Is Twitter?

by Dan Harrington on July 13, 2011

A Full Explanation of What Twitter Is and How You Can Use It To Achieve Your Goals

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is a real time social networking site that allows users to communicate in tweets, which are messages of no more than 140 characters.

Twitter users can request to subscribe to the tweets of another Twitter user and if accepted they will become a “follower” of that person and receive their tweets. All Twitter users may attract followers as well as follow others.

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What Are the Benefits of Twitter?

The primary benefit of Twitter is the ability to make connections in real time with a variety of other Twitter users, from friends and family to movie stars, politicians and people discussing topics you are interested in.

Using Twitter search tools you can find discussions and information about virtually any topic you can imagine. Even greater benefits come from building your own group of high quality followers in a particular niche.

This group of Twitter followers can be used not only for promoting your products, services or ideas, but also for gathering information from this distinct subgroup with knowledge of your topic to help you promote and reinforce your brand, blog, website, etc. Real friendships and valuable contacts can be made through engagement with Twitter users.

Getting Started On Twitter – Writing Your Bio

When you join Twitter you are asked to fill out some biographical information. Make sure and spend some time on this because many people may read it when they are deciding if they want to follow you.

The bio allows up to 160 characters so you need to be creative on how to write something interesting in a short space. You name and url will go in separate fields so there is no need to put them in the bio. Write something that piques people’s interest and grabs their attention.

What Is Twitter – Finding People You Know On Twitter

When you are searching initially for people to follow on Twitter you can use some of the Twitter search features to find people you already know. A “Find Friends” feature allows you to find people you know on Twitter by using your Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN, AOL and Gmail accounts.

You can also used the View and Brows Interests tabs to search around for interesting people to follow on Twitter. Find people and topics that are of interest to you and begin to engage in conversations in these areas. You will soon have many people following you as well.

Tweets On Twitter – Make Them Direct and To the Point

As you begin to hone your tweeting style you will develop your own authentic Twitter voice. Because tweets are limited to 140 characters, you need to get to the point quickly.

As you type your tweet you are shown how many characters you have used and how many remain. This helps you keep track so you can plan your message without going over.

Checking Replies and Mentions On Twitter – What Is Twitter continued:

Once you have entered the wonderful world of tweeting you will begin to get replies to your tweets. You can check these on your home page along with check Mentions to see if anyone out there in the Twittersphere is talking about you.

By mentioning others in your tweets you may gain Twitter followers because they will see that you have mentioned them. A mention takes place by using the @ symbol and the person’s username in the message. For example “@username had a great idea about biogear ratios, I agree. Is it feasible?”

Engaging Other Twitter Users In A Conversation

Notice how that last tweet ended with a question. It is always good to engage other Twitter users (e.g., with questions). People will quickly get bored of your tweets if you only talk about yourself and your own ideas.

That last tweet had the triple benefit of mentioning someone, stating something positive, and ending with a question to engage other Twitter users and ask for feedback.

If a topic is interesting enough you can even make a hashtag about it (e.g., #biogear) and stimulate more online conversation that can be grouped into one place for easy viewing.

What Is Twitter Tips – Sending Direct Messages On Twitter

A direct message, also called DM, is sent to one person on Twitter directly and is not viewable by the public in the Twitter stream. It is not visible to your followers or the followers of the person you are sending it to.

Direct messaging is popular among Twitter users communicating with a family member or friend, and for many other uses.

How A Twitter Direct Message Works – Answering the Question What Is Twitter

The Twitter direct messaging system uses an inbox and outbox system, and you are still restricted to 140 characters per tweet. You can only send direct messages to people who are following you (people who have previously subscribed to your tweets).

To send a direct message to someone who is following you go their Twitter page and then click on the Message box at the top of the screen.

Do Not Use Direct Messaging for Marketing and Advertising

It is bad form to send direct messages in Twitter for the purpose of marketing and advertising. The concept of Twitter is an open communication and marketing can be done through the Twitter stream.

Individual users should not be targeted with direct message promotions or advertisements. This is general Twitter etiquette and violating it will likely cause people to “unfollow” you almost immediately.

Using Twitter Hashtags to Increase Tweet Exposure

Answering the question of what is Twitter surely involves an explanation of hashtags. One of the most powerful features of Twitter is the ability to tag certain words or phrases with a “#” symbol to crate a hashtag. This hashtag becomes a live link in the tweet and can be clicked on to see other messages with that hashtag.

Twitter users can also search for particular hashtags to get directly to the tweets they are interested in (e.g., #Mets). This is a good way to see what people are talking about on a particular topic, and to find people in your niche who you can follow.

You can also create your own new Twitter hashtags for particular events or conversations. On the right hand side of the Twitter homepage is a list of the popular hashtags that are trending topics on Twitter. You may use these to join popular conversations if they relate to your topic of interest.

Retweeting Others Tweets Builds Good Will

As you learn the answer to what is Twitter you will learn to retweet! If you come across a tweet that you think will be interesting to your own followers you can use the Twitter retweet feature to send the tweet to your audience while giving credit to the originator of the tweet.

Retweeting is also a good way to build good will among other Twitter users who will be happy they were retweeted and may become one of your followers if they are not already.

Trending Topics On Twitter – What Is Twitter Advanced Tips

The topics being discussed most on Twitter at the moment are listed on the home screen under Trending Topics. You can click on any of these and see the tweets recently posted about the topic.

If any of these trending topics relate to your own market niche you may write about them to possibly get in on the popular conversation.

Creating Lists On Twitter to Organize Tweets

Twitter users can create a list that includes all of their followers in a certain category (e.g., coffee roasters). This way they can view only those tweets rather than having to find them amidst the tweets of all of the other people they are following. This is a nice Twitter feature that allows you to group important tweets together for easy viewing.

How Often Should I Send Out Tweets

There is not hard and fast rule about how often you should send out tweets but the true answer is that you should tweet only when you have something valuable to say to your readers. If this means sending many tweets in one day or just one in a week, the main things is that your audience will never be disappointed by what you post.

That being said – as you develop your own answer to what is Twitter – you should try to maintain a fairly consistent tweeting schedule. You should also vary the times you tweet to make sure and reach different Twitter users who only tweet at certain times of day. Weekday mornings and generally a very busy Twitter time.

Thanks for Visiting Gourmet Coffee Lovers and Reading What Is Twitter! Love Your Gourmet Coffee and Love Your Espresso!

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