About This Ebook
Have you wanted to check out Twitter, or have you attempted to use Twitter but were
frustrated by your first efforts? Learn the basic mechanics of the Twitter communication
tool and start building a community around your business online.
This ebook edition was created for attendees at the WritersUA conference in March 2009.
©2009 Crow Communications, LLC, Version 2 (April 2009)
The copyright holder licenses this ebook under the Creative Commons Attribution-
Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Learn more at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Feel free to share this free ebook with your friends and co-workers, post it on your blog,
email it, print it, and copy it. If you like it, please subscribe to our blog updates, or RSS feed.
Subscribe on my blog: http://blog.CrowInfoDesign.com/
Download your own copy at: http://www.CrowInfoDesign.com/downloads/twitter.pdf
Twitter is constantly changing. We will make every effort to provide an updated version of
this ebook to reflect the current Twitter features. Check our blog for version updates.
Does your company have an idea for a ebook, or do you have a library of white papers you
would like to publish as ebooks? We can help you!
Contact us at ebooks@CrowInfoDesign.com
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Why You Need This
about companies having a two-way conversation with
their customers and the public.
Twitter is becoming the sparkplug of the social media
engine because it allows you to establish an online
community and quickly talk within your community.
In this ebook, you learn:
Framework for understanding and using
Importance of defining your Twitter business
Best practices for setting up your Twitter
Strategies for defining your Twitter community.
Guidelines for crafting effective messages.
Procedures for using each message type.
Deciphering message components and their importance.
Planning weekly activities that build your Twitter success.
Starting to use Twitter on your mobile internet-enabled device.
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What Is Twitter?
Twitter is a message service that allows you to send
and receive short messages (called tweets) within your
Your Twitter community consists of:
People You Follow. You define your community
by following other Twitter users. You see the
tweets created by everyone you follow.
Following someone means that you subscribe to
People Who Follow You. Other people read
your tweets and decide to follow you. Your
followers see the tweets you send out.
What Are Tweets?
Tweets are short, only 140 characters long, so they are
The Twitter website says you tweet to answer the
question "What are you doing?" It is more accurate to say that you tweet to answer the
Perhaps you think it would be boring to read what people have for lunch or about their
commute in traffic. Fortunately, most tweets are not about those things. Instead, you learn
the major events and the small details about the business and personal lives of the people
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Twitter Is Like A Party
Twitter is a new communication form. Until you use
Everyone must make the same journey to understand
There is no good metaphor for explaining Twitter to
heard others use) explains Twitter like a huge cocktail
You can learn more about
Twitter is like walking through a large party and
eavesdropping on conversations as you walk
how the party metaphor
explains the basic Twitter
You invited these people to attend your party for
features at Twitter
a specific reason. However, once they arrive, they
are free to talk about anything on their mind.
Metaphors, a blog post at
This metaphor explains some of the Twitter features,
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What Do People Tweet?
People tweet about the things they think about. Here are some examples tweets:
Observations about life. "I imagine that the street signs in heaven will be printed in
Interesting things to read. "Today's Bacon Salt case study on Adweek underscores
the 100% targeted nature of social media. http://is.gd/4WdR"
A humorous take on life events. "Who would have thought this granola-eating
hippie with a liberal arts education would write a biz book? Life really is amazing."
Inspiring thoughts. "I'm living proof that dreams can come true. I love my work/
As of February 2009,
Twitter processes nearly 2
Professional news. "The NYT included my website in a list of just FIVE recommended
grammar blogs! Wow! http://is.gd/2rSl"
million tweets per day.
Workaday life details. "It's so hard to entrust work to others, and yet so rewarding
when they come back with great results. I need to delegate more!"
Business issues and challenges. " What if a fraction of the time spent talking about
why social media is so spiffy and how to do it the bestest went into writing new
Family life details. "Excited for my daughter who made the varsity soccer team as a
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Define Your Twitter Goal
Before you jump into the Twitter waters, you need
to decide your Twitter goal.
Why do you want to use Twitter?
For personal communication (stay in touch
with family and friends)
For business communication (to build
community with your customers, vendors,
and other related business people)
To keep in touch with your peers or keep an
eye on your competitors
To reach out to potential customers
To drive traffic to your website or blog
If you are new to Twitter and social media, it may
okay. Get your feet wet, explore what Twitter has
to offer, and think about what you discover.
Why Your Goal Matters
Your Twitter goal impacts everything you do on Twitter. It determines your account
settings and whom you decide to follow. After you use Twitter for a while, you develop a
greater understanding of what is possible. This may change your Twitter goal, also.
Start thinking about your Twitter goal now.
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Your Twitter Profile
To learn about Twitter, you have to use Twitter. If
Your Twitter profile explains who you are to the
world. Each component is optional, but your profile
allows other users to find you and learn about you.
Your name is your real name, not your
Twitter username. Use your real name if you
want people to find you using the Twitter
You can learn more about
best practices for new
Your location is your geography. Most people
put a city name and a two-letter state
Twitter users at Twitter
abbreviation, but there are no rules.
New User Checklist, a
Your web lets you link to one webpage. You
blog post at From The
can link to your website, your blog, or you can
develop a special Twitter landing page that
tells people more about you and how you use
Your bio gives you 160 characters to give
people a flavor of your personality.
You create these items when you open your Twitter account. You can edit them any time
under the Settings option. Others view your Twitter profile when they click on your
Twitter username in a tweet, or when they visit your home page (http://twitter.com/
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Before going any further, use this checklist to make sure you
have your account set up to get a good start.
My username represents me by using my name, a
nickname, or my business/brand name.
My username contains no punctuation (including no
underlines) and identifies me in the shortest possible
number of characters.
a people search.
account (a business username) to put a personal face
with my company and brand.
My link points to my blog, my website, my Twitter
landing page, or another online resource that helps
people get the flavor of my personality or a sample of
My one-line bio captures my personality, or explains my company and brand.
abbreviation or spelled out my state name.
I have not protected my updates.
These items give you a basic Twitter account setup. Later, you can refine your account
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Whom Should I Follow?
When you decide to follow someone, you subscribe
determine what you read on Twitter.
In general, you might follow:
Friends and family
People in your local community that you see
at professional and personal events
Customers (and potential customers)
Peers and people in your industry
Service providers for your business
If you create software user
People who inspire you personally or
assistance tools, you could
add your help system users
Social media gurus
to your community.
As you start out, be open to meeting new people on
Twitter. As you begin to see the power and potential
for Twitter in your business, you can adjust your goals and change whom you follow.
people you already know. Twitter allows you to connect with many wonderful people you
have not met. In fact, you may never meet some of your Twitter community in real life, but
you can appreciate their work and their personality, and enjoy engaging them on Twitter.
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How Do I Find People?
There are several ways you can find people to follow
Name Search. Use the Find People search
feature to locate people by name or Twitter
Email Search. Let Twitter go through your
email contacts to find people you already
know on Twitter.
Keyword Search. Use the search feature to
If you are a technical writer
find people who include specific keywords in
or user experience
their tweets. http://search.twitter.com/
professional, use the list of
#FollowFriday. Look for #FollowFriday
recommendations from people you like. You
can also check out Top Friday Follow, a
created by Cherryleaf based
website that tracks these recommendations.
on whom they follow.
Piggyback. Find people you like. See whom
they follow and follow them.
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Your Twitter timeline is the list of tweets that you see
because of the people you follow. Your timeline shows
up on your Twitter home page (http://twitter.com/
each time someone tweets. You must manually update
your timeline every few minutes.
Whom You Follow Matters
The quality of your Twitter experience depends on
Click Home to refresh
whom you follow. Your timeline contains tweets from
your timeline. It appears
if you are not inspired or engaged in conversation
two places on screen.
from your timeline, change the people you follow!
There is a public timeline that contains tweets from
everyone on Twitter. Click the [Everyone] option
(right menu) to view the public timeline.
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Someone Followed Me
Everyone makes their own decisions about whom to
you have a choice to make. Do you want to follow
Some people always follow back.
Some people selectively follow back.
Neither policy is right or wrong. It all depends on your
Some people are selective about whom they
Your follow policy may
read and talk with everyone who follows them.
work when you follow 100
Other people follow everyone back, and
people, but might not work
selectively read the tweets in their timeline.
when you follow 500 people. Decide on your follow policy starting out. Be prepared
to reassess your policy as you gain Twitter experience
and as your Twitter following grows.
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Your Twitter Community
Twitter divides your community
into two basic groups:
People you follow (blue)
People who follow you
However, it is more helpful to talk
about your Twitter community as
Twitter does not use the
Your Twitter friends are the
people you follow who follow
terms friend, fan, or
you back. This is the
inspiration to describe your
conversation zone for your
community. However, they
Your Twitter fans are people
are helpful for
who follow you even though
Your inspiration may be people, or they may be information services like weather or news
updates. You follow them because their tweets help you to meet your Twitter goals.
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What Do I Tweet?
There are three types of tweets you can send out.
General tweets. A public tweet sent to everyone who
@Replies. A public tweet sent to a specific person on
Twitter. You may send an @reply in response to a
Tweet Writing Tips
tweet sent out by a person. Or you can use the @reply
to send a message to anyone on Twitter.
There is an art to writing an
Direct message. A private tweet sent to a person who
effective tweet. Think of
follows you. You cannot send a direct message to
each tweet as a headline and
someone who does not follow you.
use language to engage and
hook your readers.
Now, it is time to start sending tweets to your followers. It
No matter how important
may take you a while to figure out what you want to tweet about. That is normal. Take
some time to read what other people tweet while you figure out what you want to say.
your tweet content is to you
Here are some suggestions for tweet ideas:
or your company, your
followers ultimately decide
Your current business challenge.
the value of each tweet.
What you are reading with details so others can read along (if interested).
Announce a new blog post, press release, product release, promotion, etc.
Share an insight or humorous look at your current challenges or situation.
Ask a question. Your followers may have an opinion or offer you some insight based on
their own experiences.
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Tweets With Links
Many people use Twitter to share online resources with their
community. You identify the online resource by its web
address or URL (uniform resource locator).
Most web addresses are very long, more than 25 characters,
and sometimes more than 100 characters. Within a tweet, a
web address takes up valuable real estate.
Why Twitter Matters
Twitter is a publishing
How Twitter Handles Long Web Addresses
platform because you can
Twitter realizes that web addresses eat away characters that
you could use for your message. When you enter a long web
add links to any content
address, Twitter does one of the following:
with a web address.
Displays only the first 25 characters and allows the link
If you work as a content
to work (truncates the link).
Converts the link using TinyURL.*
developer, you must
*The rules for this seem to be changing, but if you paste in a very long web address, Twitter
understand Twitter and its
sometimes replaces it with a TinyURL (shortened) web address.
importance as a publishing
Free Web Address Shortening Tools
There are many free services that people use to shorten web addresses to use in tweets. You
use these services while crafting your tweet and insert the shortened web address yourself.
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When someone posts an interesting tweet, you may
choose to retweet it. By retweeting, you share the tweet
with your followers. If you found the tweet interesting,
perhaps they will feel the same way.
To retweet, copy the tweet and paste it in the tweet box.
For example: CrowInfoDesign Anyone know a
Twitter client that allows you to
use multiple Twitter accounts
RT @CrowInfoDesign Anyone
know a Twitter client that allows
you to use multiple Twitter
accounts besides Twhirl?
community. A popular tweet that many people retweet
becomes viral, meaning that it spreads far beyond its source and beyond the reach of the
person who wrote it.
Request a Retweet
Occasionally, you may want others to retweet for you. You can ask people to retweet by
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You send an @reply (at reply) to a single person, but an @reply is not a private message.
@Replies show up:
In your timeline.
In the public timeline.
In the timeline of every person who follows both you and @reply person*.
Use an @reply to send a
*This is the default setting. You can change your @replies option under Notices in your settings.
message to someone who
Twitter displays every tweet that contains your @username in your @Username mentions
does not follow you.
list along the right menu options.
If you follow a large number Reply to a Tweet
of people, you can reduce the If you read a tweet and want to reply, simply hover your mouse over the tweet until a back
arrow appears on the right. Click the back arrow and Twitter starts creating your @reply.
noise in your timeline by
changing your @replies
Twitter provides a link back to the original tweet so the @reply recipient can link the reply
setting under Notices.
Using @Reply To Start a Conversation
username and your tweet.
For example: @WorkingGirl Great news about your book launch party!
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You can send a direct message to any user who follows you. You don't use the tweet box on
your home page to send a direct message. Instead, you send it from the Direct Messages page
when you are logged into your account. Click the Direct Messages option (right menu).
Direct Messages web address: http://twitter.com/direct_messages
Three Ways To Send a Direct Message
You may notice that some
Display the direct messages page. Use the drop-down list to select the person to receive
people who follow you do
your direct message, and type the message in the box. .
not appear in the direct
message drop-down list.
Username] under Actions option (right menu). Twitter displays a special direct message
page where you type the message.
Use one of the other two
When someone sends you a direct message, you can reply to a direct message with a direct
methods to send a direct
message if that person follows you. Display your Direct Messages page, locate the direct
message from that person, hover your mouse over the direct message and an envelope with a
message to the people
left arrow appears. Click on the envelope, and Twitter starts creating your direct message to
missing from the drop-down that person.
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Here are some tweets broken out to show you the tweet components. The next page
explains these components in detail.
A tweet you send includes the following components in your timeline:
A tweet someone else sent includes the following components in your timeline:
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Tweet Anatomy (cont.)
Here are the tweet components and how you use them.
Avatar. Click to view user archive and profile. Click on avatar on user archive to see a
larger picture (when available).
Username. Click to view user archive and profile.
Link (optional). Click to view link in a separate window. Might show the whole link,
a truncated web address, or a shortened web address.
Tweet time and status. Provides exact (after 48 hours) or relative tweet time (less
than 48 hours). Click to view the single tweet (identified by its status).
Application. Program used to create this tweet. Options include: web (Twitter.com),
txt (from text message), or application name (Twhirl, Tweetdeck, etc.). Click on
application name to visit the application website.
tweet. Used with @replies created by clicking the reply (back arrow) only.
These items appear when you hover the cursor over the tweet:
Favorite (star). Click to add to your list of favorites. Yellow means it is marked as a
Delete (trash can). Click to delete this tweet. Only available for your own tweets.
Removes the tweet from Twitter completely.
Reply (back arrow). Click to create a reply to this tweet.
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Twitter assigns a status number to each tweet. You use that status number to display an
individual tweet. Click on the tweet status (time) component of a tweet in your timeline to
display a single tweet.
Here is an example of a tweet displayed by its status.
When Twitter displays this tweet, it shows you the web address (in the browser). The web
address of this tweet is http://twitter.com/PhxREguy/status/1183311207.
With the tweet status, you can identify the tweet outside of Twitter. For example, you can:
Send a tweet as a link in an email
Link to a tweet in a blog post
Create a tweet bookmark
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On Twitter, you must listen as well as talk. Read what people are saying. Jump into the
conversation. Get to know the people you follow by reading and replying to their tweets. If
they suggest something to read, check it out.
No one wants to read your tweets if you only talk about yourself and promote your business.
Sure, you can do these things, but find a balance. Twitter is about the conversation, and no
one likes to be around someone who constantly talks about himself and never listens.
Personality and Transparency
Your community expects to engage a person, not a company, through your business twitter
account. Find the balance between staying on-target with your Twitter communication goal
and expressing your personality.
Also, your community expects you to be real and honest in your communication. The
You admit your mistakes and faults. This is a culture change for traditional PR and
marketing people, so move slowly to make sure you stay on target.
Building On Your Conversation
with a reply, shift to direct messages for ongoing comments. This way, your conversation
just be noise to them. After you have a rapport with someone you meet on Twitter, at some
point you can shift to email and other communication tools.
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The More, The Merrier
You may decide to follow most of the people who
follow you. This follow policy creates a large
group of friends and gives you a large
As your number of friends grows, you may find it
difficult to keep up with the tweets in your
Here are some ideas for managing a large
Some Twitter clients, like
Skim your tweets. This is like walking
TweetDeck, allow you to
through the room at a large party. You
sort the people you follow
know you are missing great conversations,
into groups. This feature
the time. Adjust your expectations so you
makes it easier to skim your
can jump into any conversation that catches your attention, and let the rest go.
Adjust your @reply setting. You can remove all @replies sent by the people you
follow. You only see @replies sent to you.
Focus on your direct messages and @replies list. This way, you catch the
conversation directed at you.
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Weekly Twitter Activity
You should perform three types of
activities to maintain your community
and fulfill your Twitter goals. They are
equally important, but they take
different amounts of time.
Sending and reading tweets is your
biggest activity on Twitter. The whole
purpose of being on Twitter is to engage your community in conversation.
You can learn more about
the time it takes to
effectively use Twitter at
In the beginning, it takes some time to define your Twitter community and figure out your
Twitter Your Time
follow policy to meet your Twitter goal. But after you get those basics figured out, you can
Away, a blog post at From do your community management in a few minutes once a week.
Here is where you listen to what people throughout Twitter are saying about you and your
company, products, and brand. There are many ways to tap into these hidden conversations
on Twitter. After you figure out the tools and processes that work best for you, this task
takes a small amount of your time each week.
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Twitter To Go
to use Twitter. You can send and receive
tweets using a variety of mobile devices.
A laptop computer
A netbook computer
Any cell phone with text messaging
Any web-enabled cell phone or
Any portable wifi device (like the
This flexibility makes it possible for you to take Twitter with you wherever you go.
Depending on where you are in the world, Twitter provides a free text-messaging service
that converts your tweets to text messages, and your text messages to tweets. To use this
service, you must register your cell phone with Twitter (use the Devices tab under Settings).
each tweet. If you want to use Twitter this way, upgrade to an unlimited text messaging
service, or be prepared for a large cell phone bill.
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Twitter & Mobile Devices
To use Twitter on your laptop, netbook, or smart phone, you need a mobile Twitter client.
Here is a brief list of some popular Twitter clients you can use from your mobile device.
Win. Mobile Devices
iPhone, iPod Touch
iPhone, iPod Touch
Not on Twitter
Blackberry, any Java enabled device @TinyTwitter
Not on Twitter
Blackberry, any Java enabled device @Twibble
application for your specific device.
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Keys For Success
You find what you expect to find on Twitter. If you
jump into it thinking it is boring or stupid, you might
as well stay home.
You can create Twitter success for your business by
following these simple guidelines:
Have an open mind.
Be curious and willing to experiment.
Ask questions and share your insights with
Clearly define your Twitter goal, and make your
Twitter-related decisions support your goal.
Be real and honest, and show your personality.
Engage others in conversations around topics
that are important to them.
Reply to interesting tweets.
Retweet helpful information and insights, giving other people the credit for their
Consider your community and share information that your community finds useful
Provide accurate and complete profile information so people can learn about you.
experience, follow different people.
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About The Author
About Charlene Kingston
Charlene Kingston is an information strategist and writer with
more than 25 years experience solving business challenges with
practical information solutions. She started Crow Information
Design in 1995 in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
When she is not advising people about Twitter or writing about Twitter, Charlene
I wrote this ebook to help
spends a lot of time using Twitter.
business people like you get
Find Charlene online:
off to a great start on
Follow Charlene on Twitter: CrowInfoDesign (business) and Kinchie (personal).
Visit her website: Crow Information Design
this ebook to kick-start
About Crow Information Design
your business on Twitter.
Crow Information Design provides services that help companies and freelance
professionals present themselves in writing online and in print. My team can help you
Finding the shortest distance between your message and your audience.
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