If you’ve just joined Twitter you may feel like that person who turns up to the party once everyone else is already wasted. Trying to catch up is often not a fun (nor safe) experience. But going beyond the party metaphor, it can be seriously difficult to know what Twitter is, how it works and how you can use it for maximum benefit today.
In this post, we’re going to take you through how to use the social media platform as a beginner joining Twitter in 2018.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social media channel launched in 2006 that allows users to speak to each other through a message called a “tweet”. The tweet was built from the idea of a text message, which becomes clear when you look at your feed and see a series of “messages” from users. However, this idea has since evolved in line with how we access the internet and what we expect from social media channels. The tweet can now encompass all types of rich media, such as web links, images, videos and GIFs (a moving image). The tweet also now has a character length of 280 characters, whereas before it was always 140 characters.
An example of a tweet containing a link and an image.
How do people use Twitter?
Twitter is used to share statuses on what a user is up to, as well as receive “real time” news and provide commentary on everything from the latest TV show, to politics and world events. “Trending on Twitter” means something is very popular with lots of users. Twitter is also widely associated with hashtags and using a hashtag (a word prefixed by the # symbol) is a way of tagging subjects and increasing dicoverability. Twitter also uses user handles, meaning that each account name begins with a @. By tagging someone’s handle, they are present in the tweet and also receive a notification that they’ve been tagged.
A business can also create a Twitter account. These are almost identical to personal accounts, as both have access to Twitter analytics and can pay to promote a tweet or their own account.
Notable Twitter changes
Other than the extended character count (which caused a big ruckus amongst Twitter users) another notable Twitter change was the introduction of an algorithm.
As you’ll see in our guide to social media algorithms the early days of social media saw chronological feeds, where tweets were viewed in the order users had sent them. This gave an even playing field to anyone on the channel, whether brand, friend, family or stranger.
Today, Twitter orders its feed by algorithm. This supposedly means the tweets you most likely want to see show up first in your timeline. These tweets are chosen by a criteria such as how often you interact with those accounts and how often you engage with the tweets that those users share.
Having become known as a news and “real time” channel, this has reduced Twitter’s ability to be a reputable, live news source. However Twitter’s trending topics and Moments do help to keep users in touch with what’s trending at that moment in time.
Twitter Tips for Beginners in 2018
Now you know what Twitter is and how it works, here are some top tips for those looking to use Twitter to connect with others, grow a following and make an impact in 2018.
1. Connect often
As is the case with all social media channels, simply being on Twitter is not enough. Twitter thrives on its community and the more you connect with other followers the more quickly you will grow your following and the more you’ll get out of the channel. Being present often, is key to building relationships and being seen as someone worth talking to on the channel (who isn’t going to disappear for months on end).
2. Engage and reply
Scheduling automated tweets to share your latest blogpost will see little result on Twitter. Actually spending time as a real person on the channel is increasingly important. This means answering questions, talking to users and discussing points. Basically engaging with the topics, people and brands you find interesting and want to talk to.
Talking directly to users is a great way of connecting with them. Image source.
3. Tweet in real time
One of the best ways to find likeminded people on Twitter and to spark conversations is by using Twitter alongside a real time event. This could be looking at tweets during an episode of your favourite TV show, seasonal or weekly trends or discussing something happening in the news which might be a “Trending topic” at that time.
4. Don’t regurgitate content
In February 2018, Yoel Roth, who works on API Policy and Product Trust at Twitter, published this blog post. The TL:DR version is that Twitter no longer allows the regurgitation of the same content and tweets. Previously, many marketers and users would use scheduling tools such as Buffer or Meet Edgar to automate the resharing of blogposts and tweets. The new rules meant that if you reshared the same tweet multiple times, you could find your account suspended.
This shows how Twitter is trying to move users back to having real conversations and providing value. When it comes to resharing blogposts, you need to come up with different hooks, titles and conversation starters for your audience.
5. Use Twitter chats to supercharge your connections
Twitter chats are meetups on Twitters where lots of different users log in and answer questions or discuss topics at the same time.
An example of a Twitter chat. Image source.
This is a really fast way of finding other users to follow, or who may want to follow you, and making online connections. Twitter chats are a great way of providing your opinion and experience to other users. Just ensure you are adding value and taking turns to listen, reply and give advice. No one likes the Twitter user who turns up to a Twitter chat solely to promote their own business or blog.
6. Tag others
Tagging other users whose blogposts you have shared, or who could be a great source of information is a great way to extend your reach within the Twitter community. Not only might that user then be drawn to your account to follow or connect with you, but you’ll also find that you get more eyeballs from their followers on your content and account.
7. Monitor customer enquiries
Twitter has become the number one channel users turn to for customer support. If you’re running a business profile, consider how you will monitor the account for mentions, questions and direct messages. A timely response and clear guidelines in your Twitter bio of when you will be online will help users understand exactly what to expect. A monitoring tool like Twilert which sends email notifications when your account or handle is mentioned can also help.
Some Twitter accounts receive hundreds of Twitter messages every hour. Image source.
8. Use Twitter lists to declutter
Thanks to the algorithm and just the sheer volume of people on Twitter, you can also employ Twitter lists to help you stay on top of the accounts and tweets you really want to see. Twitter lists can be private or public and you can add any user to a list to create a personalised feed of content you want to engage with.
9. Employ Twitter search
Twitter search is one of the easiest ways to find users, hashtags or specific tweets on the channel. It’s like a huge Google for Twitter and by understanding how to use Twitter search operators, you can track down specific content in seconds.
10. Review Twitter analytics
When you’re just starting out on Twitter it can be difficult to judge what content is resonating with your audience, the best times to tweet or even if your tweets are getting any engagement. Twitter analytics is a free tool provided by Twitter where you can dig deep into all of your past tweets and how they have performed. Here are 5 Twitter analytics features we think worth using.
Are you excited to head to Twitter and begin building an audience? Let us know any tips, advice or questions you have @twilert.