Twitter has been around for nearly ten years but a lot of people are still confused about what it is and how it works. So here’s some info for those of you who need it.

Alongside Facebook, Twitter is one of the most popular social networking platforms of our time. It’s function is to enable its users to send and read messages called tweets in real-time. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the user’s profile page.

This means having around the clock access to some of the world’s most creative, influential, and innovative minds, offering a virtual whiteboard and brainstorm group.

Below are some basic engagement strategies for Twitter:

  1. Listen. Twitter provides an opportunity to instantaneously listen in on the conversations of over 200 million users. By listening, a company can gauge how its brand is viewed. Use the search tool to listen for your name, your competitor’s names and words and hashtags that relate to your space.
  2. Be a resource. Online communities listen to and value voices that are willing to share real insight and understand the relationship nature of social media. By sharing tidbits and interesting links to what’s going on in your community, you become a resource to others. Because your tweets can only consist of 140 characters, you have to be concise. The symbol for re-tweeting someone else’s post is ‘RT’.

  3. Be human. Followers don’t want to just hear the latest news from your company and read press releases they can find by looking at the media section of your corporate website. It’s a good idea to have social media guidelines in place for anyone tweeting on behalf of your company but don’t underestimate how refreshing it is to have a “real person” online. Share the human side of your company and stories about the people behind your company’s tweets.
  4. Ask relevant questions. Ask questions to encourage engagement. This can be a valuable way to gain feedback and generate new ideas that will result in a more meaningful connection with your audience. Who doesn’t like being asked to provide input on topics of interest or expertise?

A handy twittering content ratio

  • Share resources: 70% of your time should be spent sharing others voices, opinions and tools. Learning is not what you know, but what you can share.
  • Collaborate: 20% of your Tweets should be directly responding, connecting, collaborating, and co-creating with like-minded Twitter colleagues.
  • General chat: 10% of what you tweet should be light chit-chat. Share experiences and stories to create an online persona. In sharing these ‘trivial’ details you can connect with people on a more fundamental level.

These are just a few tips to help you get going on Twitter. For examples of how we do it, follow us @EllisJonesLive or for specific health and ageing tweets, @EJHealth_Ageing.

Need a social media strategy for your business? Talk to us.

Image credit: Steve Snodgrass via Flickr Creative Commons