If, like me, you’re not a digital native (you may even be old enough to get the song reference in the title…), the full scope of social network functionality isn’t always immediately obvious.
Far from being a place where narcissists spend their days marking every bladder movement with a tweet (though there is bound to be a twitter feed devoted to that somewhere in the world), twitter is a goldmine of interesting people, information, campaigning and much more.
During the snow, a quick hashtag search for #UKsnow gave instant updates from all over the country. If you needed flight or train updates and their own websites let you down, a quick search on twitter generated tweets live from platforms and airports – very handy! To get the most from twitter, you should use it as a method of engagement but there is no denying that even the most tweet shy can benefit from using it as a search tool.
A question asked at my most recent workshop was: If you start tweeting, how much should you share? what makes an interesting tweet?
There are obviously a number of responses to this and there is no doubt that some tweets are more interesting / appropriate than others. Firstly, you should think about whether this is a personal account or if you’re representing your organisation. If it is a personal account, would you prefer it to be a closed account where only those you allow can see it? My personal take on this is that if you want to have a private discussion, don’t have it on twitter but there are many who would disagree. I did see a great example from a school recently who cleverly use their twitter account to test the children’s spelling – much more fun than a jotter, and definitely requiring a private account.
As for what you should say, that is totally up to you. A good rule of thumb for me is imagine you’re giving information to a new friend, you wouldn’t want to over share and you would definitely want to show yourself at your wittiest, cleverest and bestest. That said, everyone likes to share a Monday morning grumble and there’s nothing wrong with the odd tweet complaining about being a “snot monster” as long as it’s doesn’t become a daily thing.
However, having said that, the other great thing about twitter is that it is totally democratic. If you want to tweet blow by blow accounts of your baby’s first nappy change, that’s fine. If people aren’t interested in what you’re saying they just won’t follow you.
With that in mind, here are the tweet basics:
– Tweets consist of 140 characters only, use a URL shortener like goo.gl if you want to include a link
– If you want to send a message to someone on twitter, start your tweet with their username:
“@livefreerange what’s a snot monster?!” – these will only be seen by users who follow you both
– You can only send direct messages to users who also follow you and you must start your tweet with DM or use the message tab:
“DM@livefreerange what’s a snot monster?!” – these will be private
– If you would like to include a hashtag (ie for an event), it is always worth doing a quick search to check what other users are using so that your tweet appears in the correct search. Hashtags are used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. (Make sure you don’t use spaces or apostrophes: #somanythingssolittletime)
So, I leave you armed with the tools to tweet.