Twitter 101

Social Media

Twitter 101

Discover how Twitter can be used as a key social media channel for your marketing mix

YOU WILL LEARN

  • What Twitter is
  • How Twitter can be used
  • Key facts you need to know about Twitter growth rates
Start this project Takes up to 15 minutes
Beginner
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Introduction

Although Twitter has an uncertain future in the world of social media, it is still one of the leading social networks worldwide based on active users, and it’s worthwhile - especially if you already have a Twitter account - knowing how you can leverage it to reach your audience.

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320 m

Number of Twitter users

expandedramblings.com

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called ‘tweets’. Registered users can read and post tweets, but those who are unregistered can only read them. 

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How it is used

Twitter, like any social network, can be whatever you make of it. For many, the immediacy of Twitter can make it ideal for spreading news. Others find it useful to ask questions to their audience. Others find it useful for following people or topics they're interested in. Others also find it useful as an extension of their other social media channels, such as Facebook, to help increase their reach.

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6,000

The average number of tweets made every second

internetlivestats.com

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Have a plan

As we say in all our 101 projects, know your objectives and audience before you start using any marketing tool, and have this integrated into your marketing strategy and content planning. This will also help you plan out who and when to target your posts.

First steps should be deciding why you are on Twitter. Do you want to increase publicity for your organisation? Are you trying to establish your expertise in the area of education and build a reputable brand? You may start out with one idea in mind, and it may change as you become more familiar with Twitter, but you’ll find as you decide who to follow and what to tweet, your guiding principle will be: why are you here?

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Get following

Twitter is all about following and being followed.

When you’re new to Twitter, a good way to begin is to start following people who are compelling and who make smart matches for you. Are there interesting current or past students you could connect with? Other institutions? Agents? Businesses or agencies?

Even though Twitter is global, don’t overlook the beauty of connecting with local users, especially if you’re targeting specific regions within a market.

As you become more visible on Twitter, people will begin to follow you. Return the favor to increase your reach.

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Gain followers

Of course, you’ll want followers. This will take time. Start with the basics - who you know. Students and alumni are obvious choices and should be easy enough to get on board for starters. Who else do you want to target? Who can help you gain the reach you’re looking for?

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Remember content is still king

Content is king 2176px

Once you have some followers on board, you’ll need to ensure you remain relevant to them. Remember, good social media is about building an audience and a presence. Content is still king here.

You also need to make sure your content matches the medium - you only have 140 characters to work with. Don’t just cut and paste what you’ve posted in Facebook into your Twitter feed. Post need to be tailored to each.

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Use your #

Use your number 2176px

Hashtags (the # symbol) are used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorise messages. They help people search for information that’s relevant.

Check out Twitter’s advice on how to best use them.

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Get into the conversation

You don’t want or need to be only generating your own content - with Twitter it’s about getting into the conversation. Here’s some tips to do just that.

Retweet
Retweeting in particular is a good way to get started on Twitter. Find a tweet in your stream that resonates with you and retweet it, giving credit to the source.

Play favourites
By clicking the little star at the bottom of a tweet you can indicate that you ‘like’ what was said. The user will be notified that the tweet was favorited.

Ask questions
Asking questions are a good way of making a connection with your audience. Think of something relevant and put it out there and see what responses you get. Even if no one responds directly, users will notice you exist and may start to follow you. Make sure your question is related to your purpose on Twitter.

Share quality information
When you come across some new research, an interesting article on New Zealand education perhaps in a blog article, some new stats perhaps or a perfect quote from a student, share or retweet it.

QUICK TIP: SHORT(ER) IS SWEET

We know that Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, but research has shown tweets of 70 and 110 characters is best.

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Follow back

As you become more visible on Twitter, people will begin to follow you. Return the favor to increase your reach.

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Shorten links

Try free services such as bitly, goo.gl or ow.ly to shorten the URLs on your links.

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Where is Twitter headed?

From Twitter's launch in 2006 and until 2009, Twitter grew rapidly. By around mid-2010 the rate of growth started to slow, and as at the first quarter of 2016, the company reported flat growth in monthly active users.

In terms of user numbers, Twitter is still pretty big - for now. It’s worth keeping an eye on it though and reviewing the state of play regularly to see whether it should stay as part of your social media mix.

Refer to the advice tools in our social media tools project to help you keep an eye on where Twitter is heading. 

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Summary

  • Twitter is for short, 140 character messages
  • Use it for spreading news as it happens, questions to your audience
  • Acts as a good extension to other social media channels
  • Have a plan for what you want to achieve
  • It’s all about following and being followed
  • Keep an eye on where Twitter is headed
  • Link it all together with your content marketing plan

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