Ask Deemable Tech: What Is Twitter, And Why Should I Use It?
Angie asks, “Can you explain Twitter for me? I understand that you can only ‘tweet’ short messages, but I don't know what the point of it is or if its worth signing up for an account.”
Twitter is a social network where you can post updates made up of no more than 140 characters, as well as pictures and videos. For a site where you can post such short messages, it's gotten pretty big around the world. It's used by everyone from movie stars to political activists.
Similar to Facebook, you can post tweets and read your friends' tweets. To us, though, the number one use for Twitter is networking. If you own a small business or work in a profession that requires you to know a lot of people in your field, Angie, you should really consider it. It's a great way to connect with other people in your business, as well as connect with your customers.
Speaking of customers, having a Twitter account may help you get better customer service. Big companies that are on Twitter are constantly scanning it for tweets that mention them. For example, imagine you tweet about your frustration with poor service on an airline. If you mention that airline in your tweet by including their Twitter handle (AKA their username on Twitter), that airline may actually see your tweet and contact you to try to make things right. It has happened before!
Now let's go over some of the basics of using Twitter. When you sign up for an account, you'll create a Twitter handle that begins with the "at" sign (such as @deemable). Other people will be able to mention you in tweets by including that handle in their message, and you'll be able to do the same by including their Twitter handles.
You may have heard the term "hashtag" when talking about Twitter. This refers to the Twitter custom of typing the "pound" symbol followed by a word or phrase without any spaces. A hashtag is a way to categorize a tweet; if you click on one, Twitter will show you a list of all the most recent public tweets containing that hashtag. For example, if we ended a tweet with #pancakes, you could click on it and see tweets about pancakes from all over the world.
We should mention that, by default, all of your tweets will be public. You can contact other Twitter users privately by using what they call direct messages.
The main thing people do on Twitter besides tweet is follow other people. When you follow someone, you're telling Twitter that you want to see their tweets on your Twitter homepage. You can follow anyone, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they will follow you back. If you follow your favorite celebrity, chances are they're not going to follow you back because of the large number of followers they have. You can still tweet at them, though, and they might tweet you back if you're lucky.
If someone you know follows you, it's polite to follow them back. If you're not sure who your new follower is, it's okay to not do so.
Twitter also lets you "favorite" someone’s tweet, which is pretty similar to "liking" something on Facebook. You can also share someone else's tweet with your followers by retweeting it.
Just like any social media, Angie, Twitter can either be an entertaining distraction or a valuable tool. Be sure to tweet us when you join!