If you read our blogs and get our newsletters, you have probably heard us mentioning Twitter and 'tweets' pretty regularly! But you might be wondering what this Twitter thing is and whether it's really worth your time and effort to get to grips with.
So, here is a very basic guide to Twitter and how you can get your organisation signed up and 'tweeting' today! Do have a go and if you have any questions at all, just send me an email (or a tweet?!) at email@example.com (or endwaterpoverty is our Twitter name!)
So, what is Twitter?
Twitter is a social network used by millions of people used to send quick, frequent updates telling your friends, family, co-workers, celebrities and others what you are doing. It's a great way to connect with other water and sanitation organisations, target decision makers, contact potential supporters and increase the reach of your organisation.
Just follow these steps:
1. Set up your account
Go to www.twitter.com to get started. Enter your name, email, and a password. Click ‘Sign up’.
You will now be taken to a second screen where you can select a username. This is the name by which you will be known on Twitter. Your real name is probably best—if it’s available. If not, you can try using amiddle initial or an abbreviation.
Now click on the ‘Create my account’ button. That’s it! Ready to get started!
Next, Twitter will assist you in getting started. It will give you the opportunity to “follow” a few friends or celebrities. You can opt out of these steps by clicking the ‘Skip this step’link. Twitter will also give you a chance to see if some of your friends are on Twitter by checking your online address book. However, your contacts will have to use GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL for you to find them.
2. Choose your settings
To do this, go to your Twitter homepage and click on the ‘Settings’ link. Make whatever other changes you want and click ‘Save’.
Now click on the Profile tab where you can upload your picture. This is important because many Twitter users won’t follow you if you don’t have a picture – they won’t know if it’s you or not! You can also enter your location, website address and a brief bio/ statement about yourself.
When you are finished, click the ‘Save’ button
3. Follow family, friends and other organisations
If you haven’t done so already, add your family and friends by clicking in the ‘Search’ field at the top of your home page. You can type in a username or first and last name. When you do, you will get a list of users who match your search criteria.
You can begin “following” them by simply clicking on the ‘Follow’ button.
4. Learn the basic commands for Tweeting
Think of Twitter as a conversation. When you update your status, you are speaking to all of your followers- and sometimes their followers too and so on. Everyone can hear what you have to say.
‘Reply’: If you want to direct your comments to one specific person but you are happy for everyone else to see this, use the ‘Reply’ function. You address the person by using the @symbol followed immediately by their Twitter username.
For example: @EndWaterPoverty I am organizing a Crisis Talk in Ghana.
Everyone who is following both you and End Water Poverty will see the message, but you would be specifically directing it to End Water Poverty. (Those who are not following both of us will not see the message.)
You can also use the @ function to refer to someone by name.
For example: I am really enjoying the planning meeting organized by @EndWaterPoverty and @FANnetwork.
The thing about using @ is that they are “clickable links.” If someone who is following me, clicks on one of the names eg. @FANnetwork they will automatically go to that person/organisation’s Twitter page. This will give them the opportunity to follow that person too.
Direct Messages: You can use direct messages to send a message to someone that nobody else will be able to see. To use this, simply click on the envelope picture.
Hashtags: A # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a post (tweet). It can be used as a way to categorize messages. It means that if you click on a hash tag, it will show you all the other tweets associated with that particular hashtag.
For example, we are using #walksforwater for the World Walks for Water and Sanitation campaign.
5. Start tweeting!
Length of tweet: The main thing you need to know is that the message can be no longer than 140 characters long. If you use the website, the entry field will automatically count your characters.
How often? People disagree about this – some people say no more than six times a day, some people say you can tweet up to 10 times a day! So, it’s up to you! It might take you a while to get started so perhaps aim for once a day at first and build up your tweets from there!
Ready to get started? Why not send your first tweet now and mention us?! @endwaterpoverty