Twitter Basics: What’s all the fuss about?

As part of an ongoing effort to cross-train our team members at Manifest Digital, I was asked to create a series of 1 hour sessions on Social Engagement. Having presented A Primer on Social Engagement at our July company meeting what better way to continue the discussion than a 101 on Twitter and build from there?

Next on the list of sessions is:

  1. Twitter & Facebook- Beyond the basics, marketing for brands
  2. Selling Social- Speaking to clients about Social Engagement
  3. Measure & Monitor- Determining ROI & Radian 6 demo
  4. Community Building- When, Why and How
  5. Crisis Management- What to do when shit hits the fan

Below is what I gave to the participants in the Twitter Basics conversation so that when we get to the next session on using Twitter for business we’re all speaking the same language. Thoughts and comments are welcome as always.

What’s all the fuss about?

Some aspects of social media can seem a little intimidating. It’s a lot like the first day of high school; everything’s new, there are kids in the hallway using words you’ve never heard before, and you’re just not quite sure who to talk to or where to go. Don’t worry! You’re not alone, and luckily it’s pretty easy to get ramped up.

First Things First-What’s Twitter and why should I care?

Twitter isn’t just a cute way for keeping in instant touch with friends on mobile phones anymore. For some, it has ramped up quickly as their search engine of choice with its human driven results/filtering. For others it’s been a lifeline during times of crisis (i.e., Iran elections, Mumbai hotel attack)

Applications galore allow you to find friends all over the world with similar interests and keep up with them in real time.

Businesses can form instant direct relationships with their customer bases simply by signing up and using the service regularly, and according to the models Twitter is trying out, they will soon be able to advertise to the Twitter community as well. It has grown into a behemoth that is hard to get your hands around right off the bat.

Twitter 101-The Basics

  1. Go to and click “Sign up now”
  2. Fill out the information and you’re ready to dive in
  3. Choose a name that is easy to read and memorable. You may also want to consider the shortest possible version of your name because as you gather a following people will want to pass on your little nuggets of insight in the form of a ReTweet (RT), which will include your name.

(You can set up multiple accounts just be aware that you must use a different email account for each username)

So you have a new Twitter account…now what?

  1. Decorate your new home. You can customize your page with their free backgrounds or you can create your own.
  2. Make your mark. Add a photo to distinguish you. This may seem menial but it’s actually the way most people will recognize your Tweets. Do this by clicking on the Settings link at the top of the page and then the “Picture” tab.
  3. Start building your network. Find people you know who are already on Twitter and let them know you’ve arrived! At the top of the page click on “Find people”. Twitter will allow you to import e-mail lists, contacts from instant messaging services, and you can find your friends on their search engine.
  4. Seek & ye shall find. The best way to build a list of interesting people is to go to the Twitter search engine at and plug in your interests. This will then spit tons of people back out at you that you can choose to follow. Twitter will also give you some suggestions for people to follow.

Tweet Speak

This is usually the most intimidating part about Twitter…the lingo. People LOVE to integrate all forms of the word Twitter into new words or actions specific to the site. Like everything else, some people take it too far. (Twitterverse, Twittershpere, Tweeple, Twopic, Twitterati etc., etc., etc.) A fun list of Twitter words (Twords) is available for you to enjoy via the wonderful blog Mashable

For example:
A Tweet is simply a 140-character post. Tweets are the building blocks of Twitter.

Followers are people you choose to keep track of; it’s like adding a friend on Facebook. Many people try to collect as many followers as possible but if you want to have an impact it’s about quality not quantity. Remember, this is a tool (or twool 🙂 people use to communicate.

If you want to send a Tweet (a message) to a particular person just add “@” to the beginning of their username within your Tweet (e.g., @cmortensen, @manifestdigital, etc)

You can also send private messages to people (or Tweeple) on Twitter by adding “D” before the username. The only stipulation here is that you both have to be following each other. This helps ward off spammers.

One of the other great things about Twitter is that you can follow conversations on particular topics by using Hashtags (#). Hashtags are a sort of short hand best explained with an example. If you are watching a webcast, say from Inbound Marketing University and you want to know what everyone else thinks about the class simply search using the hashtag #IMU. The (#) symbol always precedes the phrase, which can be either short or long. Some common ones are #followfriday, #nightshift, #fb, #job, #quote, #fail

To see the most popular hashtags look at

Twitter Tools

The most interesting thing I find about Twitter is that most Tweets don’t come from Twitter at all; they come from third-party applications (aka-clients). There’s a ton to choose from and each one has its perks. I did a short review of some here: If you have a favorite that’s not reviewed please let me know because I’d like to post an update to this list at some point.


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