What I Love About Twitter

Twitter Rant

I didn’t start out as a big fan of Twitter. In fact, I only created an account because it was part of my job at the time to do so. But I really learned to love this often misunderstood platform in the years that followed. Many people have never gotten past the initial stigma of “What? I tell everyone I’m at Starbucks?” summary of what one does on Twitter. I don’t think I’ve ever tweeted about what I ordered at Starbucks, but maybe it’s just that nobody’s told them what else you can do. Here are some reasons Twitter is possibly my favorite social network.

 

The Art of the Tweet

For me, the most compelling element is the art of the 140 character expression. Or, more specifically, the 120 character expression, because even though the quote feature has somewhat lessened the need, you still want to leave room for your @ name if someone decides to retweet your post. You’re writing a headline, or making a statement, but it needs to be clean, and clever, and get the idea across instantly. That’s an important skill to develop for so many other things in life. Email subject lines? Blog titles or subtitles? Learning to quickly convey a concept or summary is SO VALUABLE. And Twitter gives you a blank canvas on which to practice that art every minute of every hour.

 

Twitter Strategery: Hashtags and Mentions

The cool thing about Twitter that sets it apart from LinkedIn and Facebook is, it’s public. And you can reach the right people just by using the right words. Once I posted, “Hey Twitter, where should I go for the best #pinball community?” I only got back a couple responses, but they contained exactly the information I needed. Hashtags are my bag, baby. I love researching them on hashtagify.me. I love using them strategically to signal audiences that my content is probably relevant them. My biggest pet peeve, by the way, is when people tweet something like:

Great article about how to apply gamification to elearning! http://ow.ly/htzX0X #gamification

GAH! Hashtags do function a lot like keywords, but they don’t always have to be tacked on the end. Just add the hashtag at the front of the FIRST use of the word “gamification” and save yourself some of those precious, precious characters! In this case, the duplication wasted 12 characters. That’s nearly 10% of your available space. I see this all the time.

Or when people just slap a relevant @ name at the end of a tweet. Well, relevant to them. It tells the reader nothing. And while it may get the attention of the @name you used, often times THEY also have no idea why you called them. “Why have you summoned me, mortal??”. If the article was by the @name, then the notation is “via @name”. Or if you read it based on their recommendation. If you’re trying to get their attention for something they haven’t previously read, I would suggest “cc @name” like you would do on an email. The key here is to be simple and clear about your intentions. I’ve seen tweets with a company @name stuck on the end where I honestly can’t tell if the original poster is praising the company, criticizing them, or just trying to get them to engage. BE CLEAR.

 

And Now… My Cranky Ranting Hipster Impression

If you’re gonna be on Twitter, TWEET! It’s so easy to automate a baseline of relevant content with services like Hootsuite suggested posts, and Buffer. Supplement it with your actual thoughts and shares, of course, but there is nothing sadder than a Twitter account with the egg image, no description, or one that was created a year ago and has 2 tweets. So sad.

And another thing, this time targeted at companies and content creators… those websites where you click the tweet button to share an article, and the share window that pops up contains literally just the url to the article? Oh, that toasts my marshmallows! That is the WORST. When I come across that, I have to try to remember the title of the article (which is often obscured by the share window), and, if you’re like me, drag that url into a shortener program so that it doesn’t take up as many characters. This is actually worse than not having offered a tweet button at all! If I have to manually copy the browser link and paste it into Hootsuite, at least I’m anticipating having to do all the work to share your article for you. There is so much you can do on the back end to make that share button produce a tweet that will deliver extra benefits for you (like including your Twitter handle to potentially gain more followers with every share), it’s such a waste when someone sets it up to do nothing more than share the link.

Many are saying that Twitter has seen its heyday, and that it is moving into its golden years. That may be, but if so, I’m moving there with it. So either pull up a rocking chair and crack open a Bartles & James, or git off mah lawn!

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