Twitter 104: The mechanics of tweeting

Ok everybody, this is the exciting part! What the heck do you say now that you're on Twitter? Well, if you don't have that figured out from the first post, then don't say anything at all. But if you do have content to share, either yours or someone else's, follow these tips for tweeting it right. 

1. Using the link

Shorten all your URLs! ALWAYS! Seeing a huge long URL is REALLY LAME! Even if it fits in your tweet. Yes, it is time consuming, but you look like an idiot if you don't do it. 

2. Using @ : the mention

When you mention a person, company, whatever that is on Twitter, link their page to their name. EVERY SINGLE TIME! This is the best way to get attention from other people because any time your name is mentioned in a tweet, it shows up in your @Connect page.   

3. Using # : the hashtag

Quick note: because Twitter does a good job with search these days, hashtags are not really necessary AT ALL. However, they are useful for drawing the eye to certain words in your tweets, so I will go into some detail about how to draw attention to the right places. For concepts, events, things, places, etc. that don't have Twitter accounts, use a hashtag. This is really important and really easy and really often done wrong, which will make you look like an idiot. There are two ways to use a hashtag: 

  - to get other people talking about the same thing as you to pay attention: when you use a hashtag it shows up in searches under #Discover.  This should probably be the actual subject of the sentence. Ah! Grammer! 

  - to give your judgement to a piece of content aka just for fun. 

Here's an example using both: I used #Grammys to get the eyeballs of anyone watching the Grammy's topic and I used #rookiemove to be funny. Nobody will search for #rookiemove, however if they do some day for whatever reason, the Grammy's poor judgement in having only one hashtag (therefore showing people on the west coast people's tweets about who won three hours earlier on the east coast).  

One other key thing to note: do not repeat the noun later with a hashtag! Ah! That is redundant and wastes space. Also, don't use a hashtag for something nobody is searching for! Or for something you can use a mention for! See this bad example that hurts my eyes:

It should have been: 

Going to #SXSW this year? Book your #meetings with us!  

Does that make sense? What is the subject of the sentance? Use a hashtag for that!! But that leaves a lot of extra space...perhaps some information about where they are or who else will be meeting there might be in order. We will talk more about content another time though. 

4. Using RT: the retweet/repost/via

Ok, I'm old school, but I still prefer the RT to a simple repost and I prefer the via to either.

 - Repost

This just copies the post so your followers see it even if they aren't following the person who tweeted it. Its newish and kind of lame as it doesn't allow you to add any of your own original content. However, it is the fastest option.  


  - Retweet

A retweet mentions the original poster (and therefore puts you into their @Connect feed) and includes their original tweet, the characters RT, a mention of the person and if there is room, a bit of your own content. 


  - Via

This allows you to rewrite the tweet to have your own content, but still gives a shout out to whoever created the content.


  - From or by

When you take content from some site other than Twitter and therefore can't retweet it, however it is not yours, you should always mention the author using a simple by or from.     


Its always most efficient to just include the from, by or via as part of the text. In general, you want to make it as natural-sounding with as little punctuation as possible. So the Microsoft tweet could have been

10 of the most useful #Windows8 #keyboard #shortcuts compiled by @techlicious.

Or something.

If my irritation with poor form on Twitter heats up again, perhaps I will write about some more advanced topics, especially content, next time.