Twitter can be a valuable resource for finding out what customers are saying about your company and can build a two-way communication channel where customers are publicly answered and appreciated.
If you’ve only had a small taste of Twitter, the odds are it seemed like a foreign place full of strange customs and behaviours. You wouldn’t be blamed if you wondered off not feeling too comfortable in this odd little world made up entirely by 140 character or less text strings.
Here are some tips which can be helpful to n00bs (newbies);
– the @ symbol is used to highlight your post to the people you want to see it. Think of it as an addressing mechanism (at so-and-so) except that you can easily address multiple people in a single post. @ replies, as they are called, appear to the recipient in their @ reply stream and can be seen by anyone who searches on that person’s @ replies. So if you wanted to Tweet at Red Ember, you would write @redembersol. It’s worth noting that only people following both parties see them if the @ is the first character in the post. To get around this and share your reply with all of your followers, add any other character to be the first in the tweet ie “r @redembersol” without the quote marks.
– the # symbol is called hashtags and are used as an aid in searching. People can search on any hashtags they want to follow.
– short URLs since 140 characters isn’t much space, you don’t want your entire post eaten up by a lengthy link. Most Twitter clients support URL shortening services such as tinyurl.com and bit.ly. There are also services like Twitpic.com and YFrog.com that host images attached to tweets, replacing them with a short URL.
– RT is an abbreviation for Re-Tweet and represents a message that someone found valuable enough to share with their followers. One service you can provide to your Twitter audience is aggregating and sharing the most useful or interesting tweets that you pick up from the people you follow.
– D means Direct Message, and it’s an alternative to the @ reply. However, you can only DM someone who follows you and you should be wary of what you share via DM versus, say, e-mail. Some DMs have slipped out on rare occasion via search engines that found a way to index what should have been private. More often, I’ve seen users mistype the ‘D’ used to tag a DM and they send their message out to everyone who follows them. Also, be aware that some people don’t check their DMs very often, so you might have to wait days before they notice your message. If you expect a customer to reply to you via DM, be sure you are following them – at least for as long as it takes to complete your interaction (e.g., a product support issue). Likewise, if you need to send a customer a DM, they will need to be following you.
Twitter is only as valuable as the people that you follow. Follow too few, and you’ll wonder what all of the fuss is about. Follow too many or the wrong sort and you’ll be overwhelmed. Follow only those who mesh with your goal for your Twitter identity. You can always create more than one – say, a personal Twitter account for friends and family and another for work.
If you want to tweet from Outlook, there’s a plug-in that will quickly integrate it – it’s very good. Check out Twinbox.