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FAQs About Using Twitter for Business

I thought I’d compile a list of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about using Twitter for your business I’ve heard recently.

Twitter – perhaps more than the other social media sites – can seem a little daunting at first because of its “unspoken rules” and heavy use of symbols and abbreviations.

So here are the answers to ten questions new users might ask.

Twitter, twittering and tweeting – what’s the difference?
In the Twittersphere, tweeters love to tweet. So how do you use the correct lingo? This is an easy one to start off with. Twitter is the name of the site. A tweet is the name given to a single message, 140 characters or fewer in length, and a tweeter would be someone who is, or has, tweeted. Twittering or tweeting is the verb – both are used fairly frequently, but tweeting would be regarded by many as the correct phrase. The Twittersphere refers to the ‘world of twitter’.

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How do I talk to people?
Well, technically speaking, it’s talking at people on Twitter. If you use someone’s name – so @stevesmith or @joebloggs for example – they will be alerted to the fact. This will be on Twitter itself and via email, depending on their preferences. Your followers, and potentially everyone on Twitter, will see it. This is known as a mention.

What is a direct message?
Referred to as a DM, this is a tweet to a fellow Twitter user that remains private – meaning only they will see it, again on Twitter itself and via email, depending on their preferences.

YellBusiness Twitter profile page
@YellBusiness follows accounts relevant to the small business community

Who should I follow?
As a business, follow anyone on Twitter who is of interest to your business. Take @yellbusiness for example – we follow advertisers, small businesses, people who have mentioned the brand or particular products and accounts that offer small business advice and guidance. We also follow competitors; this is perfectly acceptable.

What is a retweet?
This is repeating something someone has said on Twitter through your account, because you want to bring it to the attention of your followers. You can edit the tweet, add bits and insert your own text too. The original tweeter will be alerted to the fact that someone has retweeted their tweet,  and it’s seen as a compliment generally.

Can I delete a tweet once I’ve sent it
Starting to think that last tweet wasn’t such a good idea? Well you can delete tweets. A word of warning though – once it’s been seen and perhaps retweeted, it’s out there!

How do I add a link to my tweets?
This is most easily achieved with a third-party application that lets you manage your twitter account. If you add a link in this way, it will shorten it to a fewer number of characters – meaning you save a large number of your precious 140. You can also use a URL shortener such as bt.ly.

Can I see how many people have viewed my link?
You can – but again this needs to be done with a third-party application or by using a URL shortener. Find out more about these programs in the post on it.

How do I post an image on Twitter?
Strictly speaking you can’t post an image ‘on’ Twitter, but you can use a service such as Twitpic to upload the image, and then obtain a URL to use in your tweet. If you have a third-party application to manage your account this becomes easier – particularly on a mobile phone such as the iPhone, where you can choose a picture from your photos.

I’ve started following a few people now and my brain hurts – I’ve got information overload. How do I make sense of it all?
This is a big question amongst new users. It will come, with time. If someone sends you a direct message, or mentions your account name, it’s more obvious that it’s going to be of interest to you. However, you’ll quickly learn how to filter out the stuff you are not interested in and spot the people who you like to listen to. Most users develop a kind of skim-reading technique that is perfected over the months and years, perhaps like reading a newspaper.

  • Paul Bates

    Hi Paul. That’s great tip!