Twitter explained simply

twitterTwitter keeps hitting the headlines at the moment but a lot of people don’t seem to understand what it really is and how it differs from other Social Networks. I’ll try to explain it in terms more people can understand.

Twitter is basically about posting short messages, much like SMS texting on mobiles. Each post is called a “tweet” and is limited to 140 characters. It can’t include other media as such but it can include hyperlinks so anything you wish to share is only a click away.

It doesn’t work like email where you choose the recipients of your messages but more like a subscription service. You put your message out there and it’s read by your subscribers. In many ways it’s more like broadcasting.

As a Twitter user, or “Twitterer”, you have the option to “follow” other users meaning you subscribe to their broadcasts. Each user has lists of “following” – who he/she has chosen to follow and “followers” – who is following him/her.

Twitter has 2 real strengths which differentiate it from other networks.

Firstly, the 140 characters limit means it is highly portable and works well with mobile phone applications. For example, it’s very easy to let your followers know what you’re doing whilst on the move.

Secondly, when you read someone else’s “tweet” there’s a facility to “retweet” it, which means instantly broadcasting it to all of your followers. This means that something written by one person can reach millions within a very short time frame. This is what tends to happen with big breaking news stories and this is why it is becoming such a powerful tool for marketing and PR.

If anyone wants to follow me and be alerted to new articles I’m @chris22smith.

Marketing through Facebook, for free

FacebookFacebook is the fastest growing, most popular networking tool in the UK today. For many users it has made personal emails a thing of the past. How can this be turned into an opportunity for businesses?

Facebook is about people, real individuals. If you want to promote a company’s goods or services on Facebook you can’t just set up a business account – you have to do so from an individual’s perspective. So, what can you do?

Create a Profile

On your profile write about the company / products / services you want to promote. At first you may think that’s it’s only friends and family who will be reading it but open it up to Friends of Friends and that’s a huge network of people potentially taking a look at your profile. This kind of personal endorsement of a company/product/service is very powerful and people will sit up and take much more notice of this than an ad.

Create Groups, Events and Pages

Facebook allows you to create a group for anything you wish. This allows discussion and sharing of media around the group’s theme. On joining a group all user’s friends are notified via the main feed so the potential to grow very quickly is huge. Once a group has members there are options for the group admin to contact all members so it’s a quick and easy mailing list which manages itself. Events are similar to groups but for a limited timespan. Event invitations are highly effective as they ask for a response. Pages are again similar to groups but allow more in the way of content. Both events and pages have more prominence within individuals’ profiles so greater exposure than groups.

Get into the News Feed

This displays a summary of actions performed by a user’s friends. The more you can feature your content in this feed, the more attention you will get and drive more traffic to your group, event or page.

Import your Existing Content

If you have a website using an RSS Feed then Facebook allows you to import this into your profile or page, writing content to the news feed with each update. Here’s my own web development Facebook Page which imports the content from my web development RSS feed.

And finally, a couple of don’ts…

Don’t try to stay anonymous and set up a fake account. Facebook is about individuals and transparency. If you set up a fake account it’s only a matter of time before it’s deleted.

Don’t try to contact lots of individuals using Messages. Facebook is very hot on spotting spam and if you send the same message to lots of individuals you will quickly get blocked from sending any.