Today: After a Decade of Twitter

Ten years ago, Twitter was developed for real-time conversations/messaging to be used internally by employees at a podcasting company called Odeo. Today this micro-blogging social network has an average of 320 million Monthly Active Users and continues to change the way we communicate.

Recently, Twitter has made several attempts to bring in new users and retain existing ones by introducing features such as “Moments,” promoted tweets, embedded video feeds, and animated gifs. The rumor is that this is Twitter’s reaction to refresh the social network after reporting a decline in Monthly Active Users last quarter. My feeling is that Twitter’s Monthly Active Users will always “eb and flow” because people use Twitter in the moment, for specific moments. (Example: Attending a conference, Watching a popular TV series or the SuperBowl, Following a political debate, or they are happy/upset about a company’s service/product.)

Common Twitter Problems

Twitter has a higher learning curve when compared to other social networks. Most people I consult with have tried Twitter, but give up thinking it is going to be just like Facebook, only 140 characters or less. They just couldn’t catch on saying things like, “Who am I supposed to follow? How can I keep up with the fast-paced timeline? When I tweet, is anyone listening? What is a hashtag?” Since this reaction was so common among our clients, we began hosting FREE Twitter Classes at SocialCompass to answer a lot of these questions for individuals and business owners because we feel so strongly that Twitter, when used properly, is a valuable tool for ANYONE.

Read on for some quick tips (below) on how to better utilize Twitter today.

Personal Use of Twitter

My own love for Twitter borders on unhealthy which is probably no surprise given my career as a Digital Marketing Consultant. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning and the last before I go to bed. Time is valuable and you really can’t get the news faster or as direct on any other social media platform. Fast is actually an understatement! In some of my presentations I mention an incident in 2011 when a 5.9 earthquake hit near Richmond, Virginia. It was reported that New York residents read about the quake on Twitter 30 seconds BEFORE they felt the quake themselves. Now that’s fast!

Personally, I spend 75% of my time in the app getting news on everything from politics to technology AND 25% of my time posting a mix of personal and professional content by engaging at a conference, during my favorite TV show/sporting event or joining a live Twitter Chat about social media marketing. Twitter is also one of the few places where anyone can connect and get direct access to industry influencers, entrepreneurs, political figures, celebrities, journalists and most prominent figures in society.

TIP: Try Twitter’s new ‘Moments’ feature as an even quicker way to find the top news right now, this moment.

Twitter for Business

For all you business owners and managers out there, it is important to know that as a business on Twitter you are setting certain expectations and have to be prepared to respond in real-time or close to it. Any business that is on Twitter has to be prepared for customers messaging questions (and even complaints) to them with the expectation of a response at least within the same day. That being said, when actively managed, Twitter becomes a great customer service portal for your business and provides an opportunity to provide assistance to anyone on Twitter that messages you directly or simply mentioned specific keywords relevant to your business that you have prepared your team to monitor. Mastering Twitter Advanced Search can also help a business seek out potential customers to provide assistance in an existing conversation or start a new conversation even if they don’t @Mention or message your business directly. All tweets are public, therefore searchable. (Example: If you own a pizzeria, you can use Twitter Advanced search to look for anyone near or in Brunswick, Georgia that tweets “Where’s the best pizza?” or a combination of two words “love” and “pizza” in order to reply to them with your offerings.)

Quick Twitter Tips
First, you just have to let go of the idea that you’ll be able to read every tweet (post) in your Twitter feed. Then utilize these 3 tips on how to maximize your use of Twitter.

• Activate Twitter’s Best Tweets timeline setting which is buried in your account settings to increase relevant tweets in your feed. You must go into Settings > Account > Timeline personalization, then flip the switch to “Show me the best tweets first”. The tweets are chosen based on their popularity and what you may have “liked” in the past. (Similar to what we are used to on Facebook)
• Another buried feature – Twitter Lists allow you to organize accounts you follow in themed categories, like travel, work, influencers in my industry or cooking. Use these lists at times when you are in the mood for a specific category of content rather than swiping through tweets from every account you follow.
• Master Twitter Advanced Search – Go to once logged in to Twitter. You will be able to search tweets and Twitter accounts that use specific hashtags, keywords and even narrow down your search by location. You can also search and follow big brands on Twitter to reach out with customer service/product issues. @DeltaAssist, @HiltonSuggests, and @AppleSupport are a few Twitter accounts created by big brands specifically for customer service issues. Tweet them and you may be surprised by the results!

Happy Tweeting and Happy 10th Birthday Twitter!

What are your thoughts on Twitter? How do you use it in your personal/business life? I encourage you to continue this Twitter discussion and share with us in a comment.