2009 was the year that Twitter made it big.Â Even though the micro-blogging site has become a household name, most people have little idea of what Twitter can do for them.Â Here are some questions and answers for the beginning-to-intermediate Twitterer, to give a broader idea of why you should bother using Twitter.
1) Can you explain what the hashtag does?
A hashtag is a word preceded by the symbol #.Â Â Â Hashtags are an easy way to denote a word or topic that is important to your tweet.Â For example, if you are excited for your favourite TV showâ€™s finale, you might tweet â€œso stoked for #LOST tonight!!!â€ or â€œnew #lost episode has surprise ending; what else is new?â€ .Â This distinguishes your post from â€œI think I may have lost my keysâ€¦â€. Â When people search for topics in Twitter or use applications that accumulate tweets about a topic, hashtags help them find on-topic tweets.
2) How does one follow a webinar on twitter?
In order to follow something like a webinar or a conference on Twitter, you can click on a keywordÂ preceded by aÂ hashtag to see all Tweets that are marked with that hashtag/keyword combo. For example, click here to follow Twitter mentions (tweets) of the F5 Expo at the Vancouver Convention Center tomorrow.
Another way you can do this is just by using the search box on the right hand side of the screen when you’re logged into Twitter.
3) Are you able to retweet/ reply, etc on a blackberry/smartphone, or is this an iphone thing only?
An iPhone user myself, I donâ€™t know first-hand.Â After doing some research, it appears that there are a lot of good applications out there that are smartphone compatible, that do allow you to reply and re-tweet.Â One that got a good review (from someone who tried many, many, mobile twitter appsâ€¦) was CeTwit .Â There are many clients available, both websites and applications, that will better your smartphone Twitter experience.
[Adam’s note: Yes, you can re-tweet (a.k.a RT) from a blackberry, by manually copying a message you see and then posting the Tweet to your profile. It’s best to include RT before the user name so people know it’s a re-tweet. However, this is a bit cumbersome. I currently use Twitterberry on my blackberry and the version I’m using right now 0.8 does not have an easy to use RT feature. So it’s manual for me. There may be better apps out there though! Any input from our readers?]
4) What else can you do on twitter besides update your status?
Well, first off, you can do a lot with status updates.Â They can contain links to pictures, videos, and websites â€“ any of the stuff you would normally browse online.Â You can also look at other peopleâ€™s status updates; other peopleâ€™s content can be interesting and useful.Â In many cases, Twitter will explode with breaking news before the best news outlets feature it.
[Adam’s note: One of the most important aspects of status updates is your ability to have conversations with other Twitter users. Building your network of contacts, of people you can help or who can help you, hire you, teach you, do business with you and vice-versa, is one of the most important things you can do with Twitter right now in my opinion.
The way to do this is by replying to things people say. When you mouseover a Tweet, you’ll see the reply button when you’re using a desktop. On your mobile it will depend on the app you’re currently using. Jump in and get involved in some conversions. Remember: email is for more private discussions but Twitter is public for a reason! The more people you talk to and get to know, the larger your network can grow and the more benefits you’re likely to see. Start meeting and speaking with people in your industry, in your area and who have similar interests and see where it takes you.
Other things you can do include:
- Creating lists of people to follow
- Use the search box to find information or people much like you would when you use Google
- Use the direct message feature to send private messages
- And you can use Twitter to monitor trends or follow what people are talking about right now
There’s an endless list of things you can use Twitter for but a lot of these things are not obvious when you first begin using it because it looks so simple compared to something like Facebook for example. ]
5) What is the point of twitter for the average Joe, if you’re not promoting anything/ business purposes?
Use it for disseminating your opinions and thoughts; use it to keep tabs on news; use it to see what your friends are up to today.Â Personally, I use my Twitter account to share my daily occurrences with people, as well as small ideas that pop into my head:Â recommended reading, restaurants, fun stuff.Â If you and your friends all use Twitter like this, it can be interesting in a non-business way.Â I would think that most of Twitter is actually devoted to non-business activities.
6) When I sign in to twitter on the web, I can only see the last few tweets from people I’m following. Â Do people really go to the next page to read everyone’s past tweets?
It varies from person to person.Â I would depend on the number of friends a person has on Twitter, and how often they check their account.Â I have managed HUGE twitter accounts before, and unless you are refreshing every 2 minutes, you wonâ€™t catch everything said by your friends.
[Adam’s note: I think most people never delve too far into the list of past tweets and use Twitter as more of a snapshot in time of what’s going on. It’s up to you though! Some people spend hours and hours on it, just like Tv…or facebook :). Twitter lists can help you break up your stream into useful chunks so you can stay up to date on the important stuff more easily.]
7) Is there a way to see if you’ve been mentioned without having to search it on the web?
Definitely.Â When you sign into Twitter, click [email protected] under the menu on your home page.Â Itâ€™ll show all the mentions you have garnered.Â Looking at your mentions is a great way of keeping track of who is talking directly to you.Â Checking for new mentions is an easy way of cutting through the Twitter clutter to messages you should be aware of.
8.) What is a list/ what does it do?
A list is a compilation of Twitter users. Â Kind of like a segment. Simply put, you use lists to organize Twitter to your liking.Â Lists are a great way of organizing those who you want to watch, but without their tweets filling your main feed.Â For example, I follow the Economist, the Onion, TechCrunch, Mashable and others through a list, â€œnewsâ€.Â I can look at the list when I want their updates, but they wonâ€™t show up on my wall because Iâ€™m not following them.Â Convenient, huh?Â You can also organize your different social circles by lists, which is great for Work, Friends, People Iâ€™d Rather Not Talk To, etc.Â Oh, and you can also make your lists private if you so choose.Â Even the listed account wonâ€™t know theyâ€™re on the list.
There is a lot more to Twitter than there appears to be at first glance.Â Used properly, itâ€™s a great way to stay informed of what your friends are doing, keep abreast of news items, and glean popular opinion about current events. It can also be used as a communications and marketing platform, a market research tool, a search engine and more!
PS: Thanks to @limekwok for the great questions!
If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave them in the comments