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Communicating in Less than 140 Characters – Understanding the Power of Twitter

twitter birdIf you haven’t gotten on the Twitter bandwagon, the time is now. This worldwide phenomenon, which allows users to communicate in 140 characters or less, has become a universal social media solution adopted by even those who aren’t fans of social media. Despite its simple concept, Twitter is a robust platform with many features and the ability to shape communication all over the world.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

While the idea of “tweeting” may seem a little hard to comprehend, tweeting itself is really very simple. You simply share your thought, share a message, or check in at a location- just like on Facebook, just in 140 characters or less. Having to keep it to 140 characters or less can seem limiting and frustrating at first, but the truth is that it has revolutionized online communication. It forces users to be more concise and focused in your message. Think of how succinct and to the point you are in a text/SMS message, the idea is the same. In fact, before smart phones text messaging/SMS is how people used Twitter on the go. This gave twitter a huge leg up by being the first social network to go mobile.

Once you set up your account you can choose people to follow, and hopefully get them to follow you back. Before long you will have a feed full of tweets from users all over the world. If anything really seems important or funny to you, simply hit the icon of arrows in a circle to “re-tweet” that message. It will then show as the original tweeter as shared by you.

#Hashtags Start the Trend

hashtagWhen you are tweeting about a particular topic, you can put a keyword as a focus by putting a “#” in front of it with no spaces. This is called a “hashtag” and this is how topics trend on Twitter. You can actually click on a hashtag in a tweet and see all of the tweets that are out there with the same tag. This is how a topic “trends” on Twitter, a huge barometer for public reaction.

Power Beyond 140 Characters

There are other features available on Twitter to manage your experience. Aside from re-tweeting, you can “favorite” a tweet from a user, which ups the popularity of that tweet. And if you want to be able to organize the people you follow you can create a list, allowing you to group users together. If you follow the cast of a show, you can put all of them in a list and catch up on the feed coming from that list only. You can also “mention” a Twitter user by typing their user name as @username in your tweet and it will notify the user that they were mentioned allowing for public back and forth. You can also “DM” or direct message a user, as long as they follow you. DM is private, and not viewable by either party’s followers.

Even though Twitter has been around for a while, it still manages to be a major pillar of the online community. Brands strive to become trending topics, and users share their thoughts and publicize their blogs and sites to reach an even broader audience since many people follow you for information or entertainment- rather than a direct connection to you like on Facebook. That fact alone means Twitter should definitely be on your radar and on your mind.

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