10 tips for using Twitter

Twitter celebrated its eighth anniversary on March 6. Since its founding as Twttr, a name based on the popular photo-sharing site Flickr, the microblogging platform has continued to evolve. Today it has more than 271 million monthly active users who spend an average of 170 minutes per month on the site. These users send out around 500 million tweets per day.

Twitter’s continued evolution has forced early adopters and newbies alike to stay on top of the many tools and techniques that are either built into the platform or accessible through third-party applications. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 10 tips to improve your usage of Twitter.

  1. Advanced search: Twitter has an advanced search function that can be used to track competitors, #hashtags, your own brand(s), keywords, and various topics of interest. The advanced search function helps you avoid the unique search operators that can annotate a regular search with more granular results. For example, you can search for tweets from a particular account by using from:accountname or search for tweets containing an exact search phrase with the use of quotations surrounding the “search phrase.” These operators have proven difficult to remember, thus encouraging the development of the advanced search function that provides the shortcuts to avoid knowing the needed operator.
    You can also save the search parameters so that you can more quickly access the search results on a future visit.
  2. Automate some functions: Through the use of third-party provider IFTTT (If This Then That), you can set up automatic rules or “recipes” that can facilitate your usage within and across social media channels.

    For example, you might consider selective cross-posting using the IFTTT recipe that’s designed to send your tweets to Facebook by simply adding the code #fb into a tweet.

IFTTT Recipe: Send your tweets tagged #fb to Facebook connects twitter to facebook

Another recipe that IFTTT provides is an automatic thanks to new followers once they follow you on Twitter. You can customize this recipe with your own message.

IFTTT Recipe: Thanks on follow : twitter connects twitter to twitter

  1. Create and/or participate in a #tweetchat: You might consider staging a periodic Twitter discussion topic and setting up a #tweetchat with a relevant #hashtag so that your followers can interact with you and others on that topic during the scheduled time. There are many existing #tweetchats that can give you ideas on how these are being conducted. Often a moderator poses a question and participants provide their insights via Twitter.

    An example of a publication experimenting with a sponsored Twitter chat was @Shape_Magazine promoting a sponsored chat on healthy hair.



















  1. Create, follow, and embed lists: Many people forget that Twitter gives you the ability to segment your total followers into lists based on some common criteria like location, type of business, must-follow accounts, etc. You can also benefit from the curation of others who have created lists that you can follow on a particular topic, discipline, etc. In addition, if you identify a particularly useful list that you or someone else has created, you can embed that list into your website with the embed code.

For example, one of my most-followed lists — B2B Marketing, which has 161 subscribers and 571 members — aggregates social media accounts that focus on B2B content. It includes information from publishers, advertising agencies, marketing experts, and others.

  1. Delete a tweet: Occasionally, users regret sending out tweets because they see them as misguided, poorly timed, or inaccurate. You can delete your tweets by finding the tweet and locating the dropdown symbol for additional Twitter functionality including deleting, embedding, pinning, and emailing a tweet.

Dropdown menu

Functional options — delete, share, embed, pin

  1. Embed a tweet: The embed a tweet functionality allows you to take the embed code from a specific tweet and include that tweet in your website. Here’s a shot of the screen that appears with the embed code that you can cut and paste into your website.


  1. Pin a tweet: The pin a tweet functionality will result in the selected pin showing up in the first location of your Twitter timeline regardless of when it was actually sent out. This is useful functionality if you have an event or offer to promote.
  2. Discover a user’s first tweet: Twitter has a fun little search engine that allows you to find the first tweet for any user’s account. I did a search on my account @theWebChef and discovered that my first tweet appeared on July 16, 2008.
  3. Period before an account

Have you seen and wondered about a period that shows up before an account mentioned in a tweet? Without this period, the tweet would only go to the account mentioned and those who follow both accounts on Twitter. The period before the account mentioned results in that account and all your followers seeing that tweet. For example, in the tweet above, the .Walmart results in a broader circulation of that tweet. See the Slideshare presentation below for a visual representation of this tip.

  1. Mute the tweets: Occasionally you might want to keep following an account but not see its tweets. This might be because the user tweets too much or you are not interested in his or her current topic of conversation. You can mute an account by going to one of the user’s tweets, selecting the dropdown menu, and choosing the Mute @account name. While the user’s tweets will no longer show up in your timeline, you will continue to be classified as a follower. The user will not be notified that you have muted him or her. Please note this screenshot is only for demonstration purposes and does not indicate a muting of this account.


Example of a mute dropdown

The opportunities to effectively use Twitter as part of your social media strategy continue to grow with new functionality and tools being introduced by both Twitter and third-party providers. Keep experimenting with the techniques that work best in your individual situation.

For additional insights and tips on Twitter, see my earlier blog postings “Advancing by re-tweeting — the next steps in using Twitter” and “Advertising and promotion opportunities on Twitter.” You can also find out more about social and digital marketing strategies and tactics by adding me to your circles at my Google+ page, following me on Twitter @theWebChef, or following my boards on Pinterest.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.