Hi Moms (and Dads). Since this post has caught your attention I suspect you’re looking for a little help when it comes to joining the Twitterverse. Your kids have probably set up an account for you, but you’re not really sure how to actually make Twitter work. That’s where I come in.
I set my Mom up on Twitter about 2 years ago, but not much has happened since then! She’s keen to get tweeting so I figured I’d make her (and you) a guide. If you’re a kid, share this with your folks. If you’re a parental, share this with your friends! And let’s get connecting via one of the best social media platforms created to date.
When I was a kid any time my mother used to walk in us kids up to mischief, she’s say, “What the bloody hell is going on in here?!” It seems an accurate description of most older people’s reaction to social media. So today I’ve created The Mom’s Guide to Twitter (#TMGTT) where I will answer your questions and help you get tweeting like you’re the baws! Good luck and feel free to leave a comment below should you have any questions or comments. Catch you in the Twitterverse (tweet me when you get there 😉 ).
*For the purpose of this guide I have used my own Twitter account to illustrate various points. Your account will look different as we follow different people and, therefore, our newsfeeds will differ.
What the bloody hell is Twitter?
Twitter is a social media service that allows people across the world to give their ‘2 cents’ about anything on their mind or in public discussion.
What’s the point?
Communication. Education. Marketing. Connectivity. Fun.
What the bloody hell is a hashtag?
A hashtag is like a data “black hole”. It acts as a filter and can connect you to hundreds of tweets, all around the globe.
Why should I bother tweeting about anything?
It’s fun and informative. Add your 2 cents to Twitter about a program you’re watching, a book you’re reading, a life lesson, a news story, whatever topic interests you. In turn, read what others have said about it too. It’s puts information at your fingertips, whether it’s to start a conversation, source information (for eg. a traffic report), seek advice about something, (for eg. a restaurant), share news (maybe your business is having a sale on Saturday – tweet us and tell us!) or have a laugh.
So you’ve logged into Twitter, but you’re not quite sure what you’re looking at. Your kids set it up for you so you see things, but what are they and how do they work – you’re not sure. Here’s a simple breakdown (Hover your mouse over the image for information points):
This is the feed that tell you who has been communicating with you and how.
Sending a tweet is as easy. When you’re on the HOME feed you have 2 places to click to send a new tweet (see red arrows below):
If your newsfeed doesn’t look like this, ensure you are on the HOME feed. Look at the top left to see what feed you’re on: Home, Notifications or Messages, click Home if you’re feeling lost.
When you click on the What’s Happening box, it will look like this:
When you click on the blue Tweet button (top right), it will look like this:
You can choose either place to write a status and tweet it.
People who have placed a hashtag in their tweet will instantly give their tweets the opportunity to be found more easily. Click on a hashtag and Twitter will pull all the tweets from all around the world and put them into a time line for you to read. This way you can see what others have been saying in regard to that hashtag. For example: Carte Blanche may have a hashtag on one of their stories, hypothetically, #TMGTT (the hashtag I made up today for this post, The Moms Guide To Twitter) . If you click on that hashtag, it will show you all the tweets that contain this hashtag, thus revealing thoughts on that particular topic, shared through tweets.
If you want to ensure your tweets get further reach and are seen by the correct people (the people you want to see it), keep these 5 tips in mind:
Try Not To Murder the English Language
While you only have 140 characters, try not to murder the English language as I did here. Your readers will judge you on your Tweet delivery (and can you blame them?):
2. Try not to use all 140 characters…
…so that if someone wants to retweet you, your original copy will not be cut off (sometimes “RT” is included automatically and can cut off your copy).
3. Try to include a mention (@) and a hashtag (#).
This is so that you can reference the people you are talking about (@Wimbledon) but use a hashtag (#Wimbledon) for better “findability”. If others are talking about #Wimbledon, then you will be able to click on that hashtag and see what they’ve said, and visa versa with your tweets. For example:
When I clicked on #Wimbledon, dozens of tweets regarding Wimbledon, from all around the globe, were revealed to me. All these people also used the #Wimbledon hashtag for improved ‘finability’. For example:
4. Use a . to avoid starting a Tweet with a mention as it will appear differently on Twitter:
If you start a tweet with an “@username” then the tweet will only go to the person you mentioned and will not be sent to all your followers. For example, I wanted to only tweet Wilkinson so I started my tweet with his username (@WilkinsonUK). And he wanted to reply to me only, so he started his tweet with @BoringCTChick. If I had wanted to show people that we’re communicating, then I could have retweeted his reply, but I didn’t bother on this occasion.
If you want to mention someone, but you want it to go into your timeline so that the people who follow you will see it in their newsfeeds, then you can a) put a mention in the middle of the tweet (like I did with @Wimbledon above) or you can b) start the tweet with a . – that way it will stop it from starting with a mention (like with @WilkinsonUK). For example:
5. Don’t use more than 3 hashtags.
Sprinkle some hastags within a tweet (#sunset) or add them at the end of your tweet copy (#festival), but don’t over do it. Using too many hastags becomes “spamming” and will put your readers off. Instead use accurate ones (never use a trending topic hashtag just so that your tweet will get more reach) that convey and support what your message is about. (A bad version of this tweet would have been, “#RT if you #remember the @RockingTheDaisy #dam #sunset of #1997. #WOW! Was one of the #best… NO.)
What is a “Mention”?
A mention is when you @ someone. Something like, “I enjoyed watching @Wimbledon today.” The people who run the @Wimbledon account will then get a notification (on their notification feed) that you have mentioned them (essentially tweeted about them). People often refer to this as “at-ting someone” – a silly, but common, made up word.
What is a username?
Your username is your nickname that you use on Twitter. It starts with an @ followed by the nickname you came up with. For eg. Mine is @BoringCTChick.
What is a trending topic?
When a couple of hundred people all talk about a specific topic at the same time, this can cause the topic to ‘trend’. You can set your trending topic to your city (as I have – Cape Town) or country or a different country. It’s a great way to see what people are finding interesting and is usually the way I get most current, up to date news.
There are a number of icons on Twitter, this is what they mean:
A favourite allows you to bookmark tweets so you can return to reread them later. It is also used as a compliment. If you like someone’s tweet (but not enough to retweet it) then you can favourite it as compliment to the sender.
This is a certified account tick. If a Twitter account is managed by the actual person, or their management team, then it can be certified. That way followers know they are REALLY talking to Kim Kardashian, Ellen, Jensen Button, etc., which ever celebrity they like and want to follow and communicate with on Twitter.
There is also a time stamp on every tweet (next to these icons) which tells you when the tweet was sent and at what time. It’s good to check these out so that you know whether tweets are new or old.
This icons are found on every tweet and can be used at any time.
There are 3 levels of privacy on Twitter when it comes to your tweets. They are:
Full exposure: Writing a tweet that does not start with a @”username” and will go into your newsfeed and appear on the main newsfeed for all your followers to see.
Semi private: Starting a tweet with an @”username” which will go directly to the person mentioned.
Private: Direct messages. You can send a private message to someone Twitter as long as you follow them and they follow you. If you follow them, but they don’t follow you back, then they can DM you but you can not DM them.
If you would like to send someone a tweet that only they can see (ever) then you are able to send them a Direct Message (DM) to their Twitter account (just like a Facebook inbox message). To send a Direct Message go to the person’s account that you would like to DM. Click on the little cog. Select Send a Direct Message.
A window will then pop up that will look like this:
All you have to do is type in your message and send!
As with all social media platforms, we can always count on humankind to ruin things by adding unnecessary tactics to upset the apple cart for others. Here are some unwanted features of Twitter (which they are very good at fighting, but technology is always evolving and can’t be stopped entirely).
What is a bot?
A bot, meaning robot, is an automated ‘person’ who will reply to, and often spam, you. This happens when you use a particularly popular hashtag. Clever people on the internet set up these accounts to spread viruses and irritate us. Pretty much.
What is a hater?
A hater is someone who is just going to be mean, unkind or spiteful about things for the sake of it. It usually stems from jealousy.
What is a troll?
A troll is someone who sits on the internet and hates on everyone and everything around them online. This can sometimes be automated too. The best way to respond to these types of people is not to respond.
What do bots, haters and trolls have to do with Twitter?
Quite a lot. It won’t take you long before someone sends some hate your way. That’s just social media for you. Ignore them and continuing having a fabulous time online because you actually have a life and don’t feel the need to stoop to their level.
(Skip if you already have an account.)
Go to www.twitter.com. You will see this:
Go to New To Twitter and sign up.
Put in your name (name and surname), e-mail address and choose a password.
*For the purpose of this guide I made a Mom Guides Twitter account that I will delete. It was in order to get these screenshots to help you with a step by step guide.
I pick a few just to start but then deselect all the next time they ask as I’d prefer to follow people I’m actually interested in. I will find them the more I use Twitter.
That’s it! You should be on Twitter and ready to tweet. Scroll up to the top of this guide and get Tweeting. Good luck and tweet me when you’re there 🙂