It’s impossible to ignore Twitter these days. Some might even say that it’s impossible to ignore it no matter how much you try! If you’re not yet using it, everyone is probably telling you that you should be. Questions and statements that would have sounded insane just a few years ago – “Do you tweet?” “Oh, I must re-tweet that.” – are common currency. Twitter now has 100 million active users worldwide and those users collectively produce 250 million tweets per day. So you’re no doubt thinking, “I must get on Twitter.”
I only began tweeting myself just a few months ago. So I thought I’d share some tips and insights on getting started while the memory of finding the whole thing awfully daunting is still fresh in my mind. Here goes…
- Actually setting up a Twitter account is really easy. Just type “Twitter” into your favoured search engine, go to their webpage and follow their instructions. The important thing – the aspect that makes a lot of people nervous – is what the heck to do with Twitter once you’ve got access to the thing.
- At its heart, Twitter is just a way of sending messages – nothing more, nothing less. It’s replacing email in the same way that email replaced faxes and faxes replaced letters. On Twitter, messages are called tweets. These messages are limited to 140 characters (including spaces). So the longest possible tweet would look like this: “This sentence isn’t a hundred and forty characters yet, but with a wee bit more typing, lo and behold, it’s the maximum length of one tweet!”
- Tweets can be about anything, though most people tend to stick to what’s happening in their day or their opinion on current topics. They also reply to things that other Twitter users have said. Unsurprisingly, B&B owners most often tweet about the joys and occasional travails of running their properties.
- As well as offering their own opinions, Twitter users also “re-tweet” other users’ tweets. All this means is that you can republish on your Twitter page (or “feed”) something that someone else said – either because it told you something you didn’t know or just made you laugh. It’s also possible to include a link to a webpage in your tweets.
- If you want to share your experiences/insights/recommendations with other Twitter users, you need to “follow” them and encourage them to “follow” you. Twitter users tend to follow another user when they like what he/she has to say or share an interest with him/her (a lot of Twitter users also follow celebrities… but the less said about that the better). If you’re running a B&B, you’ll find that following lots of people who’re doing the same thing is a great way to get ideas and keep abreast of what’s happening in the sector without having to wait for the newspapers to write about it.
- The other main thing you need to know about if you want to get the best out of Twitter is hashtags. The hashtag symbol is a way of filtering your twitter feed to read only those tweets about a subject you’re interested in. So, for instance, if you’re interested in recipes for Christmas lunch and you see that someone has used the hashtag #christmaslunch in their tweet, you can click on that hashtag to see all the tweets other people have written under the same topic, using that hashtag. If you want to, you can also invent a new hashtag on a topic you’re interested in to try and create a new group. If your hashtag starts to get re-used a lot (if it “trends”, as they say), you’re likely to get more followers. (Do remember that hashtags won’t work if they have any spaces or punctuation in them.)