One of the most prominent social media networks is Twitter, a ‘micro-blogging’ website. It is used by people in both a personal and professional capacity, and is therefore of great potential use to businesses in maintaining relationships with existing clients as well as attracting new ones.

What is Twitter?
Learn more about this micro-blogging social network

Twitter can be accessed through the internet, either through a web browser or dedicated apps. Aside from desktop or laptop computers, Twitter can also be accessed and used via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Twitter’s key characteristic is its brevity. A post on Twitter is known as a ‘tweet’, and each tweet can be no longer than 140 characters. It is therefore important users choose their words carefully to make full use of the platform. However, despite this limitation, there is a lot users can do within those 140 charactersUPDATE: The limitation is now 280 characters.

With a tweet, one can communicate with other users by writing their Twitter handle within a tweet.

For example, Nick Lewis Communications’ Twitter handle is @NLCuk and if a user mentioned that in a tweet, NLC would be notified, and other people who saw that user’s tweet can link to NLC’s Twitter profile by clicking on that handle in that post.

Users can also mention multiple people within a tweet, and they can all reply back to you as with an e-mail. However, unlike e-mail, a tweet is public and can be picked up by search engines and quoted by others. Individual tweets can even be embedded in a blog post or a website, and a Twitter feed (the complete list of everything a user has posted to Twitter) can be added to a website as well, acting as a surrogate newsfeed for those visiting that website.

Indeed, one of Twitter’s key strengths is its visibility and utility; you don’t have to be a member of Twitter oneself to view other people’s tweets, and Twitter can be repurposed in other online contexts. However, users can protect their tweets, so only their Twitter followers can see them and interact with that particular user. Twitter users can also privately message others on the platform.

A tweet’s key strength is that it can contain links to other content on the internet, so users can redirect their Twitter followers (or people who see their tweets) to a particular website or other online content of interest. Given the strict character limit, tweets normally feature links that use ‘tiny URLS’ (shortened web addresses). Here is an example of a tiny URL, linking to a page about Twitter:

To make the most of Twitter, users should encourage others on Twitter to ‘follow’ them on the network. If others opt to ‘follow’ a particular user (by clicking a button), all of that user’s tweets will appear in those people’s Twitter home feed, which is also comprised of tweets of all the people they follow on the social network, ordered chronologically according to publication.

Twitter users can also read a user’s tweets if they add you to a Twitter List (a sort of customised filter to ensure they never miss posts from users of their choosing). Tweets can be given further exposure by using hashtags (#) within the tweet itself, as putting a ‘#’ in front of the word creates a hyperlink with all the posts on Twitter that feature the same word or subject. Hashtags can be one word, such as #Marketing, or multiple words joined together, such as #SocialMedia, and sensible hashtag use is essential if a person is going to make the most of being on Twitter for their own marketing purposes.

In addition, tweets can be shared by other users by them ‘retweeting’ your content. When a user retweets your another person’s tweet, that tweet will also now appear in that user’s home feed, visible to their Twitter followers as well as to those who follow the person who originally posted the tweet. If many people do this, the original tweet can actually become visible to hundreds, even thousands, more people than it would have originally reached.

Tweets are a very powerful way of communicating to a wider audience, whether it be for personal or professional purposes. However, tweets can have legal ramifications (users are effectively publicly self-publishing), so people should be careful not to share anything that could rebound or incriminate them, however innocent they think a comment or joke may seem to be.

Twitter is not just about broadcasting; it is about listening and following others as well. By following people of interest, users can find out useful information about their sector, their clients and their competitors. By engaging with what others tweet, users create goodwill and engagement, both essential but overlooked facets of any good social media campaign.

Twitter is an essential tool for any modern, progressive business, and organisations should have a presence on the network if they are not to miss out on new opportunities or vital information.

Nick Lewis Communications (NLC) currently offers the following services related to Twitter:

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