Twitter FAQs – some stuff you may want to know

Another blog in preparation for the social media workshop at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaigns’ National Conference. I hope it will go somewhere to answering these questions:

What is twitter?

Twitter is whatever you want it to be!

If you think that’s a cop out, well perhaps, but there is a certain amount of debate about what it is. The media often refer to in as a social network but clever people who know stuff debate whether it is a social media or a news media. I think it is and can be both

Interesting that over on this blog they say ‘What’s more important is what the service actually does with all those connected people.’ Well I’d like to turn that around a bit, what really matter is what all those people do with it.

So it may be a social network and/or a news media, but what do you want it be? Don’t get hung up on definition, dive in and make it what you want it to be.

What is a tweet?

They are a bit like a text message –short and with poor grammar – except the entire world can see them. Unless your tweets are protected (set to private) which I do not recommend. The point is to be seen, and be shared, and share alike.

This is a tweet, so is this. And this. This is a bird.

And this is a definition:

A tweet is a post or status update on Twitter, a microblogging service. Because Twitter only allows messages of 140 characters or less, “tweet” is as much a play on the size of the message as it is on the audible similarity to Twitter.

What are replies and mentions?

Replies pretty much do what they say on the tin. Except that any reply or ‘@ mention’ (said ‘at mention’) is also a link.

It is a link to your profile. Like this, see: @medavep

But replies are not visible to everyone. Only people following you and the person you reply to can see your replies.

So when people want to make a reply more visible, they stick some punctuation 1st so that it is technically not a reply. It’s a tweet with an @mention. Confused? This example may help.

Still confused? Then you’re doomed (not really, don’t sweat it)

What’s a re-tweet

Simple to do, a little tricky to explain. A re-tweet or RT is a bit like forwarding an email except that RTing means that it appears in your timeline on twitter, so no one gets a notification in the same way as an email.

RTs are often edited. Either by adding onto the end < like this. Or before the tweet, like this.

Even RTing and the method you go about it can be controversial.

WTF are #tags and trends?

#tags, said ‘hash tags’, are used by people on twitter to label what they are talking about by theme (or just for the sake of it: #justsaying). There are millions and millions of them. Anyone can create one whenever they want. I created one called #racisthair once. It didn’t catch on. (I was being rude about Donald Trump’s potential presidential candidacy at the time)

A #tag becomes a link to every mention of that tag on twitter. Watch #xfactor one Saturday and you will realise they are very powerful #tags are and you will learn that, like in real life, there are a lot of weirdo’s about. But don’t worry, they can’t get you through twitter.

Trends are things that are popular on twitter right now…sort of…

What trends and why?

Twitter favours novelty over popularity, so it has to be a recent upsurge in a topic to get it trending. This is important because otherwise the only thing ever trending would be Justin Bieber, and we wouldn’t want that.

#tags can trend but so can any old word if we all start tweeting it a lot. Although, I do not recall any swears trending so perhaps that isn’t allowed.

Why do I tweet?

Mainly because it’s useful but also for fun (see racist hair above)

Why aren’t you tweeting yet?

Probably because ‘I haven’t got anything interesting to say’

I hear that a lot, mainly from colleagues I’m encouraging onto twitter. But they do have something to say they just aren’t tweeting about it. I for instance enjoy hanging out on the #tag #southeastern and #Dorries because I love complaining.

Whatever you love someone is tweeting about it and you could be too!

If you are, why don’t you tweet more?

Twitter links have a short half life so you can repeat things, and perhaps you should. Don’t be repetitive, but do repeat things (every three hours)

More questions? Then tweet me

You could just Google them, but you and I both know it would be more fun to tweet me – go on, do it, do it now!

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About medavep
I work in the UK charity sector and sometimes I blog about fundraising, digital and consumer experience. Sometimes I just moan.

2 Responses to Twitter FAQs – some stuff you may want to know

  1. Pingback: #MDCNC Muscular Dystrophy Campaign National Conference « medavep

  2. Pingback: Social media workshop for #MDCNC « medavep

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