Cliff Notes: How to De-Code Tweets on Twitter

Rachel Ray knows things that are yum-o, we know tweets, so lets start whipping it up. Like Rachel, we can help you get this digital treat on the table in 30 minutes max. (If you don’t know these things, go back to this post for newbies. You need to be following some folks to gain the most benefit here.) The graphic below will be our handy-dandy visual guide, so pull up a similar tweet stream on your computer.

A screen shot of Twitter with tweets, followers and hashtags

Screen shot of tweets by various folks whom I follow.

I like triplets, so here’s the cliff notes version.

  1. Whenever the @YaddaYadda sign begins a tweet, that is a message going to the person with the YaddaYadda handle, that is also public in a way anyone logged in to Twitter can view it.
  2. When the @YaddaYadda sign appears anywhere else in a tweet, that is called a ‘mention’ and it is like third party gossip,  i.e. Did you see the handbag that Rachel wore? An ode to the animal act-up police, that one.
  3. The hashtag names the topic of conversation in a narrow way, like a Dewey Decimal classification that instantly sticks. It is universally embraced so that anyone can write on that topic, at any time.

With a unique hashtag for a single event or topic, all comments become part of a larger body of related chat. Tweeting live from a conference by using its hashtag, for example, is a particularly effective way to promote that event.

Use URL shorteners to keep it sh…

Because tweets need to be so concise in length, i.e. just 140 characters, what you regularly see is URL shortener tools being used. The most common ones are and tinyurl. Some posts will automatically give you a shorter link when you try to re-tweet something, but in the absence of that digital gal Friday, just go directly to one of these sites, open an account, and cut and paste the URL from atop your computer. That gives you the shortened version of the link, as in the example below.

URL shortening tool for twitter users

Got my URL shortened at tinyurl.

Copy and paste it into your twitter soap box, so to speak, to send it out.

After the adrenaline rush of a good tweet, say thank you by re-tweeting

I still have a warm fuzzy memory of the first time I looked at the latest tweets from one of the goddesses whom I had begun to follow on Twitter. She riffed that PC magazine published the top 10 web designs for the year, a treasure of a story to me as a marketer since of course, I should be sharp and deep in my knowledge of the latest and greatest web designs. When I saw her tweet, clicked through and surfed the article, it was like the perfect wave coming right at me. It had taken all of five seconds to see something crazy useful! After bookmarking the site, I was so grateful for that most valuable tip that I re-tweeted it. How? By hitting the re-tweet button below the message when I was in the Twitter application. Appreciation on twitter is re-tweeting, pass it around.

Here is a best practice: when you are typing in your tip about the latest and greatest, utilize as few of the keystrokes allotted as you can. Leaving an extra 15 or 20 characters makes it easier for someone who receives your message to re-tweet it, without causing the string to exceed length restrictions, or a link at the end to break.

One more note about a re-tweet: it appears with the beginning acronym RT. So anything that starts with RT has come from someone else’s “mouth”.

Get tweeting and followers will come

Now try out for yourself some tweeting action in the box below ‘What’s Happening?’

twitter icon appears adorable with thinking callouts

Which twitter celebs should I follow?

Are you wondering what to write about? Don’t tell us what’s out your window unless it is thought-provoking. Try to build up your reputation by sharing something absolutely new and newsworthy. Like livestreaming from Palo Alto. Or, the night table book you can’t put down, with a link to the Amazon dot com review. Or tomorrow’s event at The Princeton Club.

As you tweet, you will get followers. (Like the Pied Piper!) At the beginning, it doesn’t really matter who happens to tie in to you. (There is a nifty automated process that will send you followers without even asking.) Later on, when you are more experienced, there are tools and sites to more intentionally dig up followers, but that’s another post.

When you get the hang of sending out several questions, and you have a few followers, try something a bit more bold: send a Direct Message to one of your followers. The button on the top horizontal bar which says, “Message” (see the graphic above) is where you go to start that direct message. If you can’t think of anything to say, you can use the old courtesy, “Thank you for the follow!”, since manners are always appropriate!

A final note: if you are fairly good at catching things quickly tech-wise, then go ahead and explore Twitter on your own. If you are in that category of person that is likely to get frustrated and bite off your fingernails, then find a friend, sit with them, and go through it together. Click on text and pictures in the four main areas (Following and Follower images, Trends, the tweet stream, the Timeline links). See your options for connection and commentary multiply!

Mojo Moves

  • Re-tweet some messages and reply to others directly, using the pop-up menus below the tweets on the left-hand column
  • Practice visiting your favorite web haunts, and re-tweeting from there. Get with the handy-dandy URL shorteners as much as possible
  • Add variety to your tweets, including questions, suggestions and trending topics. Use cryptic language to keep space open at the end, for those elusive re-tweets that you seek
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