To this day, you still get people asking How does Twitter work? and What is Twitter? , even if Twitter was launched over 6 years ago!
Of course, those who embraced this social networking site from the start know exactly how Twitter works. But if you’re just getting started with Twitter don’t despair!
I must admit I wasn't one of the early adopters either. Truthfully, I never am. I like to take my time before I jump on the bandwagon of the latest fad.
When I first checked out Twitter I thought “This must be one of the stupidest things ever invented!”
And from what I’ve seen I was not the only one thinking that. It’s actually quite common for small business owners to have these thoughts on Twitter. Don’t know ... there’s something about Twitter that doesn't exactly get you excited when you first come across it.
However, I have since opened my eyes to the many benefits that Twitter can provide for businesses, especially small business owners.
Having said that, out of three online businesses that I own, I only have a presence on Twitter for two of them. So don't just jump onto Twitter without doing any research to find out whether your target audience is actually using Twitter!
In simple terms, Twitter is a microblogging service. It’s a social networking site where people can post messages, reply to other people’s messages, upload and share photos and videos and interact with other people’s posts.
After reading the above description, you might be tempted to think that Twitter is just like Facebook then.
But here's how Twitter is different. Posts on Twitter must not exceed 140 characters!
Yes, you read right. You have to say whatever you're saying in 140 characters or less. This is perhaps what most people find frustrating about Twitter, shocking even.
How on earth are you going to articulate properly what you have to say in just 140 characters? Well, you’d be amazed! The more you practice, the better you’ll become. Trust me :)
Wanna see what you can say in 140 characters? Well, you might not realize this but you have just read something that is 140 characters long!
Every social networking site has its own jargon which can sound pretty daunting for newbies. But don't worry.
I've listed and explained the most important ones below so that you'll quickly understand what they mean.
OK, now that we know a little bit about Twitter, let's move on to learn how Twitter works!
The screenshot below shows you how your HOME page on Twitter will look like. I've numbered the different sections in red, to make it easier for you to understand what I'm talking about.
What do all the different sections mean and what can you do with them?
1. As you can see, at the top right hand side you'll have a search box. Here you can type in the names of people or businesses that you'd like to follow, topics that you'd like to follow, etc.
2. The blue icon with the feather pen on it, is where you can compose your tweets.
3. This is another place where you can type in your tweets.
4. The Who To Follow section is located on the left hand side mid way, just under your number of tweets, your followers and the number of people you're following.
The most promiment section on your home page is the Tweets section. This is the place where you will see ALL the tweets that the people you're following have posted.
What else can you do on Twitter?
The top "header" will always remain the same, regardless of where you're navigating on Twitter.
So you'll always see the following tabs:
- Search Box
- Profile Settings Icon
- Blue Feather Pen Icon
What will you see when you click the @CONNECT tab?
This is perhaps one of the most important sections of Twitter. Here you'll basically see how people interacted with your Twitter account and tweets. So in this section you'll see all recent new followers, who mentioned you, who favorited your tweets etc.
It is very important that you check this section regularly and interact/reply accordingly.
What happens when you click on the #DISCOVER tab? When you click on this tab, you'll be able to see the following:
- Top Stories on Twitter
- Suggestions of people that you could follow
- Trending topics worldwide
- Activity of the people you follow. This is a cool feature. Here you can see what tweets your followers favorited, who they've followed recently, what lists they created and a bunch of other stuff.
- Find friends. In this section, you can look for friends that you might have on Twitter, search for contacts on Gmail, etc.
- Browse categories. In this section, you can browse for people and businesses who are listed in Twitter's main categories.
A very important section in any social networking site is of course the PROFILE section.
On Twitter, you'll find this at the top right hand side. Below is a screenshot so that you'll know where this tab is located and how the profile icon looks like.
As you can see from the screenshot above, when you click on this icon, a small window will pop up giving you a list of the various things that you can do in this section.
Here, you can choose to create a list of your favorite people and businesses that you're currently following. This will help you follow their tweets better.
You can also see and respond to any direct messages that you get.
In addition, you can also change the settings of your Twitter account. You can access Twitter's Help section from here as well.
So that, in a nutshell, is how Twitter works. Remember that just because many small businesses seem to be on Twitter, it doesn't mean that Twitter will automatically work for YOUR business.
Do your research first and then decide whether it's worth it to be on Twitter.