What is Twitter?

Here it is, the first in my training series for Twitter. This post will be covering the basics of what Twitter is and how it works, so if you’re already up and running with Twitter, bear with me while I get everybody else up to speed. We’ve got 10 more parts to go, and trust me, we’ll be getting into some more complicated things. But in order to get set up right, you’ve got to start at the beginning. And who knows, even if you’ve been using Twitter for a while, you still might learn something!

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is an extremely fast growing social media network with currently over 1 million members but this is expected to explode! All communications are limited to 140 characters, with no special coding or labeling, although you can use links (but the links are changed into smaller redirect links if they are too long).

Twitter describes themselves as a service for friends, family and coworkers to stay connected through the exchange of quick frequent answers to the same question – what are you doing?

In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking world news to updates from friends.

How Twitter Works

Twitter offers a simple way for people to connect. Twitter asks one question… “What are you doing?”

Answers must be under 140 characters in length and can be sent via mobile texting, instant message, or the web.

Twitter’s core technology is a device agnostic message routing system with rudimentary social networking features. They accept messages from SMS, web, mobile web, instant message, or from third party API projects.

Twitter’s engineering team works with an open-source web application framework called Ruby on Rails. The web site and user interface were designed using Omnigraffle and Photoshop. They like to make frequent changes to the interface, and Rails provides them with a skeleton code frameworks so they don’t have to re-do the whole site every time they add or change something like a sign in form or a picture upload feature. I realize that 90% of you do not care about this but now you know 🙂

Twitter has a very simple interface for interacting with other users – simply type your message in to a text box, and click to send it out. It then goes into Twitter’s database, is sent out to all that area following you, will appear on your own homepage, your profile and on any cross-platform third party application you might be using (I will get into much more details on this later).

The other place that it appears is on the public timeline, which has all the tweets that everybody is posting. This moves really fast – most of the posts that you will see have been posted in the last 5 seconds.

Although Twitter asks you what you’re doing, most users use it for something other than that. You can share interesting links (yours or otherwise) with other people. You can set it up for Twitter to send out an update every time you add a new post to your blog PLUS more.

How Twitter Can Work For Your Business

Twitter can put your business’s message in front of thousands of people, instantly. If you can harness this power, and use it effectively, Twitter can help you promote your brand and add depth to your online identity.
Whether or not you’re experienced in social marketing, Twitter gives you a simple, easy-to-use way of interacting with your audience. Even if you’ve already done some social marketing and been successful, Twitter can still help you expand your audience and grow your circle of influence.

One thing to always keep in mind when using Twitter, however is this: this is a social tool, not an advertising outlet. You can’t just put messages out there that are just hard sells and expect people to keep following you. You need to put some time and effort into growing your community, interact with your followers (not selling things) and follow other people, and establish your credibility within Twitter before you start promoting yourself.

If you do it right, you can use your Twitter messages to direct your followers to check out your products, blogs, affiliate programs, or anything else that you want to promote. You can use Twitter to both promote things to your current contacts, as well as attract new business.

The best thing about twitter (in my opinion anyway) is they are much more open to developers creating third party applications (FaceBook recently changed to be more like Twitter)… the great thing about this is there are loads of tools that take 90% of the repetitive daily work out of using Twitter. This does not mean you can set and forget… that does not work with social sites… but you can do a lot of things automatically that are highly effective but time intensive.

A few of my absolute favorite 3rd Party Twitter Tools (I will be talking about these over the next couple weeks) are…

Over the next couple weeks, I will be getting into much more depth of actually setting up and marketing using Twitter but the purpose of this post was to set the ground work of understanding, so you can start off on the right foot.