The micro-blogging website Twitter now has 10 million users in the UK and 140 million worldwide. This is a significant figure and exceeds, for the first time, the number of people that take a daily newspaper.
The website is a public forum where major and minor celebrities vie with each other for the number of followers and comedians such as Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais frequently ‘tweet’ their thoughts, jokes and public disputes. As well as the famous and pretenders, Twitter is an open forum for members of the public and businesses to put information out into the public domain with links back to your business or project.
Twitter is a fascinating place for checking opinions, generating publicity and provides great opportunities for businesses to promote their products.
Here are some commonly used terms that you need to know about:
- Tweets – new posts on your profile that instantly appear on the latest tweets lists of your followers and is searchable by others.
- Hashtag – adding # to a word or phrase (the words must be run together or concatenated) enables your tweet to be easily found amongst other Tweets on the same subject. These can often be topical, controversial, funny or informative e.g. #cricketfilms was a particular favourite of mine recently ‘Driving Miss Dhoni’, ‘The Wicket Man’ ‘Monty Panesar and the Holy Bail’ ‘The Curious Case of Len Hutton’ etc made me smile! Also programmes like BBC’s Question Time have a live twitter response under the hashtag #bbcqt.
- Retweet – where a tweet is copied to someone else’s timeline.
- Reply – reply to a tweet and the message goes back to the originator with twitter tag included so it will appear.
- Twitter username – the ‘@’ sign followed a name of your choice, choose wisely!
- Tweet to – You can message people directly and it’s sometimes worth a punt on asking someone famous or influential to retweet a message on your behalf.
- Trends – a live list of the most popular topics being tweeted about using hash tags or simply keywords or phrases. ‘Promoted’ tweets are effectively paid advertising links to new products or media.