As FirstFound’s blogging, social media and copywriting specialist, I’ve been asked to put together a quick “Dummies Guide to Twitter” for use in the SEO department. Now I normally like to keep my own blogging projects separate from FirstFound projects (hence this being the first time I’ve mentioned my employers), but I would appreciate any feedback from the Twitterati and Social Media newcomers alike.

FirstFound Twitter Training Document

Twitter is currently one of the fastest-growing social media sites on the net. It allows professionals to share insights, businesses to communicate with clients, and egotists to tell a disinterested world just what they’ve had for dinner. Crucially, it is currently at the forefront of real-time search.

We currently have a FirstFound Twitter account set up, and have amassed almost 300 followers, so it’s important that SEO consultants learn how to use it properly.

This guide should give you an introduction on how to use Twitter, but as with all social media, you really need to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.

The Basics – Getting on Twitter

Get on to twitter.com, sign up, upload a picture (many people won’t take people with a default avatar seriously) and fill out your Bio. You’ll now need some people to follow. Hit search.twitter.com and start searching for anything that interests you. If any of the results look interesting, click on the Tweeter’s name, head over to their profile and follow them. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can also use wefollow.com, the Twitter directory to find people – and you can always use the “Find People” function on Twitter to, well, find people.

For SEO, the following people are well worth following:
@MattCutts – Google spam guru
@FirstFound – Obviously.
@Google, @Yahoo, @Bing – The world’s leading search engines

Once you’ve got a few people to follow (about 20 or so should give you a good starting point), you’re ready to get Tweeting. Now leave twitter.com. Strangely, the Twitter web page is near enough useless for anything other than account maintenance.

Choosing an App.

There are dozens of Twitter Apps out there, with the best being TweetDeck and Tweetie. However, both of these require installing software. It’s much simpler to turn to your trusty iGoogle homepage, and a widget called “TwitterGadget”. Unlike the Twitter main site, this has automatic re-Tweeting, auto-filled @ replies and inbuilt hashtag searching. If the last sentence has left you baffled and bewildered, don’t worry. Just take my word for it that those jargon-filled features are good things.

For the time being, install the widget, sign in and take a look. The main columns you’ll be using are as follows:

Home
This is your main Twitter feed, like the one you’ll see on the Twitter web page. It contains all the tweets you make, along with all the tweets people you follow make. Think of it as an RSS feed, and you won’t go far wrong.

Replies
These are messages directed at you or mentioning you, using the @tag. They are visible to anyone, and anybody (regardless of follower status) can contact you in this way.

Directs
Direct messages (DMs) can only be sent by reciprocal followers. They’re entirely private and won’t appear in anyone’s Twitter feed except the recipients.

Favourites
You can save particularly interesting Tweets here.

Everyone
The real-time global mood monitor that is Twitter’s Everyone feed. It can only be accessed by a few apps, and it’s an insight into what the population of the Twitsphere is chatting about. Normally nothing interesting can be found here.

Advanced Tweeting

By now, you should have an account and be able to see what people are Tweeting to and about you. You should also be able to send simple Tweets to the Twitsphere in general. Next up are the three most common Twitter tags.

@ – The At Tag: Use @ to mark a message as directed at a particular person. Simply write @, followed by the name (TwitterGadget auto fills for you), and you’ll send a public message to the recipient of your choice. For example:

 @FirstFoundMark have you regained the use of your hearing yet?

You can also use @ to refer to a person for any reason. For example, if you want to let your followers know that your Operations Manager has gone deaf, you could tweet this:

 Hah. @FirstFoundMark‘s gone deaf. Must be his terrible taste in music.

You can also use @tags to keep track of conversations between your followers. If you see the following:

 FirstFoundMark: @FirstFound I don’t have terrible taste in music.

You’ll know that FirstFoundMark is responding to an earlier Tweet from FirstFound.

RT: – The ReTweet Tag: This is pretty much the same as forwarding an email. On TwitterGadget, over over the avatar next to the tweet you want to forward or repeat. Click the folded arrow in the top right of the menu that appears, and a message like this will appear in your send box:

 RT: @FirstFoundMark I can’t hear. Boo hoo.

As you’ll see, it automatically adds an @ tag with the name of the original Tweeter. If you ReTweet a ReTweet, you do end up with a list, so feel free to chop out the middle names, leaving just the original tweeter and the person you retweeted.

#HashTags – Hash Tags are brilliant. If there’s a central theme to your Tweet, stick a # in front of it. For example:

 

Google’s dropped the keywords tag? Did they ever use it? #google #seo

When you hit send, you should now see the two hash-tagged words highlighted as links. Clicking them will take you to a search page giving real time results on who else is using those words.

As long as you bear the above in mind, you should be able to decode any previously impenetrable Tweet:

 FirstFoundMark: RT: @FirstFound Google’s dropped the keywords tag? Did they ever  use it? #google #seo

Obviously that means that FirstFoundMark has passed on FirstFound’s tweet about keywords tags, which is about SEO and Google. Simple.

Jump In.

The easiest way to learn how to use Twitter is to just jump in and play around with it. Get signed up, and you’ll soon learn the ropes. Have fun.

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