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Twitter 101

Telling Your Story

The business of social media, part three

Published on: January 30, 2013

In our ongoing series on how to use social media for your business needs, we're going to tackle Twitter next. What is it, besides a punch line for late night talk show hosts?

Twitter is an online social media tool that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters. These messages are called "tweets."  Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey, says, "…we came across the word 'twitter', and it was just perfect.  The definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds.'  And that's exactly what the product was." 

It is easy enough to start a Twitter account.  Here are step by step instructions for getting your Twitter account set up.  Through the set up process, you will choose your user name, which will become your "handle."  There is a lot of lingo specific to Twitter, so here's a glossary of terms

Although the goal of this information is to help you understand how you might tweet for yourself, initially you may just want to follow other's tweets. To "follow" someone on Twitter is to subscribe to their tweets. 

Once your account is set up, you can start searching for others to follow.  There will be a search box at the top of your window, a great one to start following would be Farm Futures.  There a lot of individuals and organizations who post on Twitter, and once you start following anyone you can see who they are following, and make additional connections with those you are interested in. 

Once you get set up, you'll notice people posting #FF which stands for "Follow Friday." Typically on Fridays, people will suggest others to follow who they think offer good information, for example, I might say in a tweet - #FF @FarmFutures. 

On Twitter you can just follow others, and read their information. You are also able to have conversations with others, and converse back and forth. Another popular feature is to "retweet" what others might have said and pass their information on to those who are following you.  Retweet is referred to as RT.  Sometimes people will just forward something that another said, others might add in their own comments and then forward the tweet. Perhaps you see a good article you want to share; you could create a tweet and share a link to the article or specific webpage.  An example tweet might be, "My favorite place to get market quotes http://farmfutures.com/ffQuotesElectronic.aspx". 

Similar to all other forms of social media, if you have any doubt that it's something that you might not want to be made public, don't share it on Twitter either. 

Twitter has been described as a broadcast medium with two-way conversation tools built into it.  It depends on what your goals are.  Twitter can be about sharing information (either your original thoughts or passing information along as other's tweets or links to news articles), but it can also be a good way to create dialogue with others.  

Next week we'll talk more about how you might use Twitter in your farm.