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Using Twitter – Top Ten Tips

May 21st 2009

Twitter is everywhere.

Today, Twitter has roughly 6 million users. eMarketer projects that the number of Twitter users will jump to 18.1 million in 2010, representing 10.8% of Internet users. Twitter appeared in the list of the UK’s top 100 sites, according to Hitwise.

So, what exactly is Twitter? Twitter is most simply described as a micro-blogging platform. Users post mini messages, which are then uploaded onto the web in a similar way to a blog post.

The limit for each message is just 140 characters. This may not give much room for writing but it is perfect for people who do not have the time to maintain a blog. Get started today with our Ten Top Tips.

1. Decide what you will use Twitter for!

You can use it for business purposes (Customer Relationship Management, launching new products or services, Public Relations etc) or for personal reasons (to keep in contact with friends worldwide).

Plan to integrate it into your Marketing activities. Add your Twitter address into your email signature, put a link on your website, promote your Twitter address on your blog etc.

2. Choose your name(s) and sign up

Go to Twitter.com and choose a log-in name or names. We recommend having your own name (for personal brand building) and maybe your business name too.

So you could have:

www.twitter.com/marysmith – for personal messages and www.twitter.com/xyzltd – for business messages.

However, if you are a ‘guru’ or expert, you may want to use your own name for business use and a ‘pet’ name for personal.

Twitter is free so you can have multiple names at no cost. You can change name without losing previous tweets but you may find that your chosen name has gone.

Once signed up, you can start tweeting (sending messages). The quickest way is to type your messages straight into the website. However, you can also text them in from your mobile.

3. Follow first

During the sign-up process, Twitter lists contacts already using the service, as well as suggesting other people you might find interesting. By following these people, their tweets will appear on your Twitter homepage.

It’s a good idea to follow people at first. That way you get a ‘feel’ for it.

4. Learn the language of Tweeting!

Tweets are short, so symbols are often used to save space. For example:


Used for replying to people. Use @ followed by the person’s username to flag your tweet as a reply.


Used to announce topics. For example, #uksnow was used to flag up tweets relating to the February snowstorms. People can then search for that hashtag to find info on that topic. Find popular hashtags at http://hashtags.org/


Stands for retweet, and should be followed by @username. This is used when you are resending a tweet made by someone else.

5. Keep it private

If you want to send a message to one person without everyone else seeing it just type d [username] [message] and the person will be sent a direct message.

NB You can only send someone a direct message if they are already following you.

6. Keep it brief

You only have 140 characters to play with, so make them count.

If you want to include a long web link in a tweet, use a URL shortener.

One such site is TinyURL which will transform a URL of any length into one of just 18 characters.

7. Adding pictures

Twitpic is an independent site where you can upload photos from your computer or phone. It creates a short URL you can add into a tweet.

Any reply tweets are added as comments to the photo.

8. Etiquette

Tweets are public and once you publish them, they cannot be edited. There is a delete button but by the time you’ve deleted it someone will have read it.

It is Twitter etiquette to follow those you are following you.

When tweeting at celebs, do so sparingly or run the risk of looking a bit lame. Just because you follow a celebrity on Twitter (even if they follow you back) does not mean they are your good friend.

9. Get it together

Put all the content that you create online: Facebook updates, Windows Live Updates, Messenger Status, Twitter updates, comments on YouTube and channel them through Twitterfeed.

Doing so means you will constantly tweet everything you are posting online. So share information, ideas and knowledge.

10. Useful gadgets

Twitter has an open API, which means anyone can create a program that interacts with it. Our in-house Twitter ‘guru’ has been working on a project known as twiggit which merges social bookmarking site Digg with Twitter.

The result is that there are lots of Twitter programs out there, which can make your use of Twitter much easier.

So get tweeting and have fun!