In March, Twitter (one of my favourite social media platforms), turned nine.
Nine… goodness, where has that time gone?
Having said that, don't you find it hard now to remember the time before tweeting and hashtags?
Twitter's birthday has caused me to reflect on the ways that we use this social media platform - particularly to help us to market our businesses.
It has also has made me question whether we are using all of Twitter's tools to their best effect.
As a result, in this blog, I will aim to look at five key Twitter features and how they can help us use Twitter in our businesses.
#1 Twitter Cards
It's often tricky to say all that you want to say in 140 characters.
Twitter cards can help by enabling you to enrich your tweets by adding content such as photos, videos and calls to action. These cards are designed to help you stand out and drive traffic to your own website.
By adding a few, simple lines of HTML code to your website, users who tweet links to your content will have a Twitter card added to the tweet that is visable to all of their followers.
Twitter suggests the following card types:
Summary Card - can be used for many types of content, including blog posts, news articles and new products.
It is designed to give the reader a preview of the content before they click through to your website.
Summary Card With Large Image - the same idea as the Summary Card but with a large, full-width prominent
image. Clicking on that image brings the viewer to your website.
Photo Card - puts an image front and center in the tweet. Clicking on this image will expand it to give a
more detailed view.
Gallery Card - allows you to attach a gallery of up to four images to a tweet.
App Card - a way to market mobile apps, this card allows you to add a name, description and icon. You can
also highlight features such as the rating of the app and its price.
Player Card - allows you to add rich media such as video and audio to your Twitter card.
- Product Card - this card is designed to represent product and retail items on Twitter. You can market your products via an image, a description and you can also highlight two other key features about your product.
To start using Twitter cards, choose the type of card that you would like to implement. Then, add the relevant meta tags to your web page.
Next, you have to run your URL against Twitter’s validator tool to test (you will need Twitter’s approval to use Player Cards).
After testing, you can tweet the URL and see the card appear below your tweet in the details view. Finally, if you want to see how your cards are performing you can do so via the Twitter Card analytics.
#2 Twitter Lists
I love creating Twitter lists. They are basically a curated group of Twitter users and allow you to group content by your key interests.
If you follow a large and diverse range of people and businesses, your Twitter news stream can get quite crowded. By creating a list you can check out what a certain group of people are tweeting about a particular subject.
To create a Twitter list, simply go to your lists page via the drop down menu on your profile icon. Then click ‘create list’. You can now name your list and give it a brief description (under 100 characters). You can also decide if you would prefer your list to be public or private.
Saving will bring you to a page where you can search for people to add to your new list. You can also add people to your list via their own profile pages by clicking on the gear icon drop down menu on a user’s profile and selecting add (or perhaps remove) from lists.
You can then add that user to the list that you would like them to join. You don’t have to be following a user to add them to your list.
Meanwhile, if you see a list belonging to another Twitter user that you would like to follow you can subscribe to that list by clicking on lists when you view their profile. Then select the list that you would like to follow. Click subscribe and you are done (again, you can follow lists without having to follow the individual users in that list).
As you post more valuable content onto Twitter you may find that you are added to the lists of other Twitter users. If you would like to find out what list you have been added to go to your lists page and click ‘Member of’. It can be quite illuminating!
In March, Twitter unveiled Periscope. This is a new app that lets you share and watch live video from your mobile phone. According to Periscope’s developers: “a picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around”.
How, you may be wondering, will this benefit my business? Well, you can share a business event, performance, product launch or even your thoughts on a relevant topic - all in real time.
Once you have downloaded the app, you press a button to instantly notify your followers that you are live.
Periscope allows its broadcasts to be interactive. Viewers can send messages to the broadcaster and express their love for the video content by tapping the screen to send hearts.
Up until now, if you wanted to send someone a direct message via Twitter (thereby taking a public conversation and making it private) they had to follow you first.
On 20 April, Twitter announced that it was changing how direct messaging works to make it easier for users to communicate on a one-to-one basis.
You can now opt to receive direct messages from anyone even if you don’t follow them. To do this, go to your security and privacy settings and click the box called ‘Receive Direct Messages from anyone’.
You can also reply to anyone who sends you a direct message regardless of whether that person follows you.
If, by selecting this function, you start to receive unwelcome direct messages from users you can block them. This will mean that they cannot follow you (and you cannot follow them), they cannot send you direct messages, view your tweets, add your Twitter account to their lists or tag you in a photo.
To block someone, go to a tweet from that user and click the more icon (...) at the bottom of that tweet. Then click block. You can also block a user by going to that user’s profile page and clicking the gear icon and then clicking block.
I have been thinking about whether I would want to allow anyone to send me direct messages. Could that lead to a slew of Twitter spam? For that reason, I am not sure and I might keep my powder dry for a bit.
Despite this, I do see great value here from a customer service point of view.
It is recommended that businesses take a customer service query or complaint off the public stage as soon as possible. However, until now, you had to ask the user to follow you before you could address their concerns in a private direct message.
If that person is feeling cross or let down by your business, he or she may not want to follow you and you then run the potential risk of more public tweets.
Now, businesses can allow their customers to direct message them without having to ask for a follow - making Twitter’s customer service potential that much stronger.
Twitter’s aim is to make its private side “just as fulfilling as its public side” and there are many more new features in the pipeline.
One of the challenges with Twitter is that you can feel overwhelmed by all of the content. As a result, Twitter has introduced Highlights - a fast and simple summary of the best tweets for you, delivered via rich push notification.
In order to create your highlights, Twitter looks at the accounts and conversations that are popular among people that you follow. This includes tweets from people you are close to, topics and events that are trending in your area or network and people that are popular or trending among the people that you follow.
You have to opt in via your settings (mobile notifications menu) to start to receive Highlights. You will then get a notification on your phone twice a day to let you know that your Highlights are ready. By opening those notifications you will be taken to your Twitter app where your Highlights will be displayed.
Happy (albeit slightly belated) birthday Twitter!
Thanks for reading!
Oh and if you have any comments on this blog, do feel free to leave them in the box below.
Take care, Jane x