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So what exactly is Twitter?


Twitter…most of us have heard of it….some of us use it….but how many of us actually understand what it is and how it can benefit us? Here, we give a very basic guide to Twitter.

Picture it…a technophobe-convert is finally persuaded to buy an iPhone and it doesn’t take long for them to realise that an inbuilt app called ‘Twitter‘ is available…now…we all assume its ‘something a bit like Facebook‘, but is it?

Not really.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Twitter example – Image via CrunchBase

Twitter and Facebook are both social networking sites, but thats roughly where the similarity ends. Some would argue that Facebook is for ‘fun’ and not entirely useful (but we’ll write about whether that’s true, in a seperate article). Twitter is useful. Sure, some people will use it for fun too and there is nothing wrong with that but answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, and Twitter is sure to be your friend:

  • Do you like to hear up to the minute snippets of information without being flooded with junk that you are not interested in?
  • Do you have too-few-hours in the day to sift through countless websites to find what you’re looking for?
  • Do you wish you had a way to give your opinions back to authors of information from time to time?
  • Do you struggle to keep up to date about current issues and wonder how everyone else manages to know about things?

Well, Twitter is probably something useful for you.

You can choose what information (usually individuals or organisations) to ‘follow’ – meaning that anything they post to Twitter, will appear in your ‘Tweet Feed’, which is visible as soon as you log into Twitter. User names (or handles, in Twitter) begin with an @ symbol, such as @Apple.

Have interesting things to write, yourself? Then write a ‘tweet’ – this is a short snippet of information that anyone who ‘follows’ you will see in their tweet feed.

Then there’s ‘retweeting.’ This is a hugely effective way of sharing information you have read on Twitter, with your followers. If you think your followers want to read it, simply click the retweet button – and hey presto – they will see it in their Tweet Feed too! You can even comment on the tweet as you retweet it – perhaps giving a short opinion on what is being said.

Hashtagging‘ is an effective way of grouping similar conversations. A hashtag is simply a word or phrase (no spaces) with a hash symbol in front of it. People can click on the hashtag to see what other people have been talking about, on the same topic (such as #thenewipad). On the left of the Twitter website, when you log in, there will be a ‘trending‘ section – this is where, depending on your geographical location, you can see which topics are raising the most discussion – this will usually be current affairs, most recently of course, London 2012 or athletes within, that have excelled or vastly under achieved!

Twitter is great socially and in business – you might want to catch up on your favourite sports news, or on the latest information on a banking crisis…it can be used to follow pretty well anything these days – follow your competitors – find out what exactly they are doing to reach out to their customers…should you be doing the same? Its free – so if it works once, its surely worth it…

Above all, if you are trying to promote a website, search engines will favour you if you have  Twitter account. So….get involved today – either via the Twitter website or via the app on your smart phone.

Oh – and follow us – @theithandbook! #blatantplug!

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About theithandbook

Reaching every day people and businesses with simple, effective and modern IT advice.

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