Twitter is without a doubt one of the fastest growing social networking channels on the Internet today. Nielsen reported that Twitter had a massive 1,382 percent growth rate from February 2008 to February 2009.
As people are jumping on Twitter to join the conversations, many are not only faced with the challenge of answering the question, “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less, but they are often overwhelmed by the terminology that is unique to Twitter. To help ease some confusion, here’s a list of some of the most commonly used terms and communication shortcuts on Twitter:
Starting with the basics, a tweet is a 140-character message or update sent via Twitter. Tweets can be sent by various means including your mobile phone, the Internet, or third party applications. Tweets are public and can be viewed by any Twitter user, with the exception of Direct Messages and Protected Tweets, both of which are mentioned below.
Also known as “retweets”, RT @username is a way to re-send a tweet. Through retweets, you are able to send someone else’s message to other Twitterers who are following you. Retweets are very similar to forwarding emails and out of courtesy, it’s best to credit the original creator with the @username.
These can be used to reply to a tweet, mention another user, or direct a tweet to someone. When replying to a tweet, the @username typically appears at the beginning of the tweet and when using the @username in the middle or near the end of the tweet, it’s often used to mention or direct the tweet to another user. It’s important to note that these replies can be viewed by anyone on Twitter and the @username is a way for others to know who you are “talking” to.
Direct Messages are tweets that are sent to a specific user and are not viewable on the public timeline. They are similar to Messages on Facebook, for those who are more familiar with that social networking channel.
Favorites are essentially bookmarked tweets. They are a way for you to share your favorite tweets with Twitterers. In addition to the short bio that you can provide about yourself, favorites enable you to showcase the type of information that is most interesting to you.
#hashtags (where the topic or keyword is used in place of the word “hashtag”) are used to group tweets by topic or keyword. To have your tweets grouped with others about the same topic, include the #hashtag in your tweets. For a look at the most popular hastags, visit http://hashtags.org/.
Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to jump in and start tweeting!
Tweeting across language borders can be challenging, but if you are marketing internationally, Twitter can be a great way to reach across cultural boundaries and engage a whole new audience. For example, did you know that the most widely spoken language in the world is Chinese? In order to use Twitter internationally, consider employing a Twitter Translator. One new promising tool comes from Mloovi.com. It takes your tweet and translates it using Google’s Translation tool:
Not only that but any tweets coming in from another language can be translated into English (or whatever language you prefer – they cover 42 languages including Chinese, Greek and Arabic). If you want to try it now, go to: http://mloovitweet.com/.
If you have some knowledge of the other language and want to review your tweets before you send them, you can also use Google’s translator tool directly: http://translate.google.com.
This takes a little longer, but lets me preview my tweet before I send it out to the world.
Even considering the potential for misunderstanding, using translation software can help you get a better understanding of international friends and potential new customers. If you have a good relationship with your followers and explain that you are using translation software, they’ll likely understand any small language mishaps.
The tool is in development now and as with any automatic translator, it won’t be perfect, so you’ll want to be careful not to challenge it with slang English terms – keep the language straightforward and simple to avoid misunderstandings. If you are unsure of this and prefer to stick to English, go ahead and tweet internationally in English as English is a popular second language and your followers will likely understand your English tweets as well. In that case, you might just want to use the tool to understand when your international correspondents tweet in their native language.
In any case, don’t be afraid to expand your world and use Twitter internationally to find new customers across cultural and international borders.
By now I am sure that you have heard of Twitter. People are using it to connect with others to share small bits of information. “Twitterers” are using this service to keep in contact with old friends, follow celebrity gossip or even look for business products and information. As a business, it is important to have a custom Twitter channel to help capture some of these users who may be searching for what you are tweeting about.
As you build a following on Twitter, it can be increasingly difficult to manage. With more followers comes more interaction, and with thousands of followers, keeping those interactions personal and up to date can be difficult. Luckily, many third party developers have been designing applications to help with the management of your Twitter channel. Below are a few of my favorites that can help businesses manage their Twitter channel.
Tweet3 – This service is great for businesses that may have multiple Twitter channels. Some businesses have a channel for the main business and another channel for their customer service department. Tweet3 allows you to have one central place to log in and manage all of your Twitter channels. This can help you to organize your channels better without having to log into separate accounts. It also contains an analytics package that will help you to track your tweets, followers and interactions.
CoTweet – Some businesses have one Twitter channel with multiple people wanting to create tweets and interact with customers. CoTweet Beta is a great tool for that. It allows many people to share information through a Twitter channel, while retaining their personal identity if desired.
TwitterHawk – This is well suited for those with a larger budget. TwitterHawk allows you to create custom responses to users who search for “keywords” you predetermine. When a Twitter user mentions your search criteria, a tweet is sent to them automatically on your behalf. You can have up to 5 auto responses, and the cost is five cents per tweet sent.
Mobile Applications – With the advent of many mobile Twitter applications, now anyone can Tweet from anywhere, no matter what kind of device you have. Now you don’t have to be bound by your computer to make updates throughout the day. You can use your phone to send updates about what you are doing from anywhere. For a list of the most popular mobile twitter applications broken down by device, please visit: http://mashable.com/2008/12/21/twitter-mobile-applications/