Tweeting in Tune: Making Sense of the World of Twitter

November 02, 2010 Evergreen Enterprises, Inc. 0 Comments

Social networking is becoming the phenomemon of the decade, and the number of ways that people can stay in touch on the internet seems to grow every year. With over half a billion members, it’s clear that Facebook is currently the most common social networking site, as many of you have found ways to make it profitable, both personally and professionally.

With less than half as many members, Twitter hasn’t quite yet reached the same level of popularity. It’s true that Twitter is very different animal—in some ways much simpler, in some ways more confusing. If you’ve only just heard of Twitter but not yet joined, or if you’ve created an account and not really done anything with it, we wanted to share some helpful points on what Twitter is all about and how to make the most of it.

Twitter is essentially an online message service, a communication tool that promotes sharing of short thoughts and ideas. In fact, each message (or “tweet”) is limited to 140 characters, making it something like cell phone text messaging. You can share anything you like with the world, including links to web sites. For those familiar with Facebook, it’s a bit like updating the “status” on your Facebook profile.

Some of you follow blogs regularly or may even write articles for your own blog. Think of Twitter as a “micro-blog” where you have only a couple of short sentences to make your point. Also, like most blogs, what you post is completely public, unless you choose to protect your “tweets.” (More on that in a bit.)

You’ve got to dive in to experience it! Here are 4 basic steps to getting involved.

1. Stake Your Claim

Just go to, click on “Sign Up” and choose a user name and password. Your user name is the “handle” by which you will be known on Twitter, so keep it fairly simple. When proceeded by the “@” symbol, it’s also your address. You should add a picture of yourself or your company and decide if you want to share information such as your real name and location.

If you want to get really creative, you can customize the look of your Twitter profile page with different colors and backgrounds. This can be helpful for company branding purposes, but it won’t be seen if people are accessing Twitter in different ways, such as on a mobile phone.

2. Shape Your Network

Part of the appeal behind Twitter is the opportunity for “real-time” news and conversation. Many use Twitter to share details of events as they are happening and communicate with others about it. But in order to involve yourself in discussion, you need to build some connections with others on Twitter.

Just as there are “friends” in Facebook, there are “followers” in Twitter. You can search for people you know on Twitter, and then “follow” them. You can also look at other people’s followers, and find interesting people that way. For the people that you’re following, all of their tweets will appear in real time on your Twitter page (similar to the News Feed in Facebook). If you decide later that you’re tired of what they’re saying, you can always “unfollow” them.

People will also follow you as well. In fact, just as some want lots of friends on Facebook, many also try to gain a huge audience of followers on Twitter. One strategy for getting more Twitter followers is to follow other people in hopes that they will take notice and follow you back, even if they don’t know you. This is often used to extreme, however, by Twitter “spammers” who follow thousands of people in hopes of gaining exposure for their business. If you really don’t want someone following you, there is always the option to “block” them.

One of the fun things about Twitter is that you can follow anyone, including your favorite celebrity, and get updates from them. Many large companies have Twitter accounts where they post special deals or product releases. Don’t be afraid to also follow complete strangers if you think they have interesting things to say. You may be able to start up conversations with things you have in common.You can also browse any Twitter user’s recent tweets by visiting their profile page (

Sometimes people choose to “protect” their tweets, meaning that they will have to give you permission before you can follow them. If you’re sharing sensitive information, you may choose to do this as well, but being private with your tweets really defeats the purpose and power of Twitter—the ability and freedom to connect with anyone anywhere. It’s been said that Facebook is mostly for connecting with friends you already know, while Twitter is mostly for connecting with strangers you wish you knew.

3. Share Your Thoughts

It’s possible to just use your Twitter account to simply follow lots of people and read what they have to say. But the beauty of Twitter is interactive communication, so it’s important to tweet yourself. You can share your current activities, your thoughts on life, a funny joke you just heard—anything at all! That said, it’s best to share relevant and helpful information that others might find useful or entertaining. Posting news in your line of work can be effective at building your business and gaining you more followers. You can also post links to other content that won’t fit into 140 characters, such as helpful web pages, your own blogs, and so forth.

If you’re posting links, you’ll want to use a service that shortens the link (or URL) so that it fits easily into the limit of Twitter. Some examples are and — some Twitter programs also have a built-in feature to shorten the links automatically.

When it comes to Twitter, there are some topics that are best left alone. For example, most people really don’t care about what you ate for lunch or other such banal details. If you’re trying to market a business or organization, you may want to avoid political or religious hot buttons that could turn off your followers. Tweet regularly, but don’t overwhelm your followers by tweeting too often; a couple of times a day is great.

Some of the most successful Twitter users are those who have branded themselves towards a specific niche or identity. It’s great to share about all your interests to attract more different followers, but it’s very hard to be all things to all people. You may even want to set up more than one Twitter account for different purposes or audiences.

4. Spread Your Influence

As you read the tweets of the people you’re following, you may want to answer them back or comment about what they’re saying. So do it! Twitter allows you to easily reply to any tweet, and the user should see your response. One of the beauties of Twitter is its capacity to host conversations and allow for interaction between fellow Tweeters. Just keep it civil, of course; Twitter is a public medium.

If you like or appreciate someone’s message, you can quickly “re-tweet” it to your own followers. This will provide variety to your tweets, increase awareness of an important thought or event, and possibly help you gain favor with the user who originally posted it. Just make sure you’re sharing some of your own thoughts, not just re-tweeting from others.

You can address any Twitter user directly by starting your tweet with the “@” sign immediately followed by their user name. Don’t always expect a reply back, especially if you’re addressing a celebrity, but the possibility is there. While these messages are also public tweets, they usually don’t appear to your own followers. To keep your communication completely private, you’ll need to send someone a Direct Message (DM). You can only DM someone if you’re both following each other.

That's it!
Going forward, you can interact on Twitter by using a web browser on a computer, but you may find it easier to keep in touch on the go using a smartphone. There are also separate dedicated “client” programs for managing your Twitter account on your desktop. There are also ways to integrate other social networking accounts, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. For example, you can set up Twitter to automatically update your Facebook profile. It’s best to keep most of the content you post on Twitter and Facebook unique so that people who follow you on both places won’t get tired of seeing the same thing.

If you want more in-depth info on using Twitter, there is a wealth of information available on the web. You may also find these links helpful:

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