11 things you need to know about Twitter

twitter logo

Whether you tweet more often than you eat or if you have never even been on the site, you probably know that Twitter has become an incredibly popular way for people to express themselves.

Here are the 11 things you need to know about Twitter:

1. It is the SMS of the internet.

Twitter was originally created to emulate the cell phone’s SMS (short message service) and as such was limited to 140 characters. The short-and-sweet messages are public by default and you can view them even if you are not registered on the site. You do need to be registered to write them.

2. It is for the birds.

Jack Dorsey, one of the founders, said they came upon the name because  “The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was”. Each message is called a Tweet. For trivia buffs, their mascot is named Larry the Bird (after basketball player Larry Bird).

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3. It has its own language

A user has a handle (@BinaryTat), that is up to 15 characters long. The messages appear in a reverse-chronilogical list called a feed. If you repost someone else’s message to your own feed, it is a retweet. If you post part of the message then it is a modified tweet. If you want to see all of another user’s tweets in your feed then you follow them. If people follow you then they are followers. 

3. #HashtagsAreAwesome #TrendingTopic

The first use of the Hashtag in Twitter was in this post by techie Chris Messina in August 2007:
@chrismessina
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in ‪#‎barcamp‬ [msg]?

(PS – barcamp is a site for web and technology discussions – not a summer pastime for pubs)

Now hashtags are integral, not only in Twitter but Instagram and even Facebook. The hashtag denotes trending topics, and though people like to use them for #whatever, they are useful for following a discussion on Twitter about a live event (like the#Oscars2014) or pop culture references  (like #GameofThrones ).

4. Privacy is possible!

I have previously referred to using Twitter as ‘walking down a road with a bullhorn’. It is public, it is brief and you have no idea who is listening. That said, You can create a private Twitter account where all followers need to be approved. This would be great for a club or a group where you wanted to be able to post messages broadly but not publicly.
5. Twitter has an amazing search engine.

It processes 2.1 billion queries per day. Want to improve your searches? Here are a few extra features that you can use in your query:

  • near:[city name] and within:[distance] will give you tweets sent from that area. Ex: for tweets sent within 5 miles of New York City, near:NYC within:5mi
  • filter:[data type] will give you tweets containing that type of data. Ex: for tweets about bowling with links in them, filter:links bowling
  • since:[yyyy-mm-dd] and until:[yyyy-mm-dd] will show tweets sent since that date or up to that date. Ex: for tweets between December 1st, 2013 and February 20th, 2014, since:2013-12-01 until:2014-02-20
  • [word] will find one word without the other. Ex: for tweets with the word ‘super’ and not ‘bowl’, super -bowl

6. The 2nd biggest network – and possibly most popular with teens.

Second only to Facebook, there are over 645 million registered users on Twitter (200 million are active each month). With 70% of these accounts are outside the US, it is a global phenomenon. The country with the most Twitter accounts is China, with 35.5 million.

Like many networks, Twitter has a large chunk of ‘users’ who are believed to be fake accounts used to bolster numbers of followers from those willing to pay for the higher numbers. The estimated quantity of  these accounts is about 20 million users, or 3%.

Regardless of the number of users, teens are using Twitter more than Facebook. In a recent US study, 26% named Twitter as their “most important” social site. Only 23% named Facebook.

7. Now that’s Big Data!

Though 40% of active users simply consume content on Twitter, rather than send tweets themselves. There are still 58 million tweets per day! That’s over 40,000 tweets per minute.

8. It’s (mostly) about celebrities…

Wondering who has the most followers? Top 5 are: Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, and YouTube. The top 25 are also rounded out mostly by musicians and a few superstars. Here are 4 random (and typical) Katy Perry tweets:

Katy Perry tweets

9. … And then it is about news that matters to you

All the major social networks are in competition to be YOUR central source for news and relevant links. Given the nature of the real-time updates, Twitter is a great source of current information. Follow your local news channels to get the latest updates for your city, your favourite magazine for links to their articles or your favourite stores to get news on sales and items in stock. Because you get to choose who you follow, all the items in the feed should be something you are interested in.

10. –  Twitter has keyboard shortcuts

If you use Twitter from a computer, you have access to great shortcuts. If you forget, type “?” to get the following menu:

Screen shot 2014-02-14 at 7.49.36 PM

 11 – Twitter is for business

It is quickly becoming one of the key places to target your social marketing. Why?

  • The information is current so you can post events in a timely manner
  • Easily shared which means other people can retweet your messages on your behalf
  • It is a great forum to share your expertise and build brand
  • Of all the networks, Twitter has a broad and diverse user base

Hopefully my experienced Tweeters have learned something new. As for the newbies, if you are still unsure, check out our Twitter Feed @BinaryTat, to give you a better idea.

 

 

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