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The Beginner's Guide to Twitter

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How to Turn Your Twitter Profile Page into an SEO Masterpiece

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If you have spent any time around social marketing you probably know that SEO and social media go hand and hand. (Well you have at least heard about it, right?) So, how do you turn your Twitter account into a search-able masterpiece? Why is this important? Ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your hats, press on and don’t worry, I will keep this in 5 year old terms (because that is how I think).

Let’s start off as if you are starting with a fresh profile. What is the first thing that you do when starting a twitter account? That is right, pick a name…

Picking a user name and actual name: Your twitter user name should include the keyword that you wish to rank high in. For example, if you want people to find your Twitter profile when they search for cupcakes, make sure that ‘cupcakes’ is in your name. @XYZcupcakes would be an appropriate example. It is usually a good idea not to use any dashes, make it short and easy to remember.

Next, with your actual name you can use your actual name, or take a step further and include the keyword again if it is appropriate (this doesn’t help with personalizing your account to you though). If you already have an account, you can fix this by logging into your Twitter account and clicking “Settings”. From there, change your ‘Name’. Do not change your ‘Username’.

What to do with your website URL…

Make sure not to use a link that has been shortened by using a shortner like bit.ly. Do however, get rid of the “www” because Twitter will only show the first 20 characters, it will help in allowing people to see the link before they click on it. If you need to change this, go into your Twitter account and click “settings”. From there go to the “Account” page and scroll halfway down the page.

Next is your bio…

This should be easy to include your keywords again. Make sure that your personality can shine through, but be short simple and to the point. You only have 160 characters and don’t waste them on words that have no search value. Consider this a to-the-point snapshot of who you are and how you want to be perceived and also is what a lot of people use to determine if they are going to follow you or not (but, only if they are interested in a real give and take twitter relationship). Keep in mind that Google will sometimes include your location in this. Make sure that you give a good location.You can fix this by logging into your Twitter account and clicking “Settings”. From there, change your “One Line Bio”.

You can even SEO your Twitter pic (avatar)…

Yes, you can even SEO your profile picture! You can’t add tags but, you can rename the photo before you upload it that way when it shows up in the URL it will have the keywords that you named. Be careful not to add spaces. Doing that will not translate the link very well. I don’t recommend changing your profile picture but, I would recommend changing the name of the profile picture and re-uploading it. You can do this by clicking on “Settings” and then “Picture”.

Burn Baby Burn…

Burn Your Twitter feed: Why would you want to use an RSS feed for Twitter? Well, by using RSS, people can subscribe to your posts (and in this case Tweets) and get instant feeds sent to them. Just like a blogger would use RSS feeds to increase their popularity with search engines and help draw traffic to their blogs, you can use RSS feeds to do the same for your Twitter account. So, how do you go about doing this you say? I will show you how to set this up in Google FeedBurner.

First you go to FeedBurner. If you have a gmail account you can sign in with this. Otherwise, sign up for a new account.

Next, in a different window open up your Twitter account and scroll down to the middle of your Twitter page and click on the RSS feed icon. Next go to the top of the page and copy the URL. (It should look similar to this: http://twitter.com/statuses/friends_timeline/104933666)

Next, paste it into FeedBurner. Then make sure that you add your user name and password so that it won’t be locked when people try and look at the feeds (Use the same format as the highlighted text: http://username:password@twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/15473972.rss). Click next and you have just RSS’d your twitter profile!

Last, go through the dashboard and choose important options for your chosen use of your feed. You can share widgets, add pictures, set up a title for the feed and make sure that it pings (connects) with search engines.

Tweet This…

Make sure that your tweets contains keywords and phrases that you want search engines to pick up. Also, make sure to occasionally use #hashtags. Search engines are already ranking these and this will also help tweeps find you in Twitter search.

You’re My Favorite…

Twitter Favorites with Keywords: Make sure that some of your favorite tweets contain keywords, key phrases and relevant links.

Tiny?

Tinyurl.com your links. By Using a shortener like Tinyurl, search engines will recognize the link and rank them.

Build it and They will Come…

By actively following other and having others follow you, you increase awareness with search engines.

The Missing Link…

This is probably the most important part of your Twitter SEO. Make sure that you are submitting your Twitter profile and RSS feeds to directories. Also, be sure to add your twitter user name in blog posts and forums. This will allow you to get noticed by more people, more often, resulting in a larger and diverse following and higher page ranks.

Congratulations – You now have one of the most searchable profiles on Twitter!

Twitter Tips for Beginners [VIDEO]

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Over the past few months I’ve presented at a number of conferences and to companies on how to use Twitter. On each occasion I’ve been asked for the slides and by others not at the presentations if there were videos of the presentations. Today I sat down to record some audio over one of the slide sets that I use.

While the presentation is titled ‘Twitter Tips for Business’ much of it would be relevant for anyone using Twitter whether they be doing so as a business or as an individual. The video goes for 40 minutes – so grab a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy.

Concise Guide to Understanding Replies, Mentions and Direct Messages on Twitter – Part 1 of 2

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by Robert Dwyer of The Wellesley Wine Press – Follow him @RobertDwyer

dwyer_twitip_lead_image

A subtly confusing aspect of Twitter, even for people who have been using the service for a while, is understanding the differences between replies, mentions and direct messages. These concepts are confusing because they’re different than E-mail and aren’t necessarily the same as on other social networks like Facebook. The goal of this piece is to help well-meaning people from inadvertently annoying others on Twitter, or worse, accidentally sharing private information publicly.

This piece describes replies, mentions and direct messages in terms of how they’re used from the Twitter web interface. Once you understand how things work on Twitter’s website it’s easy to map these things to use within Twitter clients like TweetDeck or TwitterBerry.

This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Today we’ll talk about replies:

Replies

In it’s simplest form, a reply occurs when you see something that another user has tweeted and you want to respond to it in a public way. A reply is any tweet that starts with “@” followed by a user name.

For example, if I wanted to respond to the following tweet I’d click on the reply button:

twitter1

…and then the Twitter “What are you doing?” box changes to a “Reply to” box and the text is populated with “@makerstable:

twitter2

I’d then fill out my reply and click the reply button to send the tweet:

twitter4

@makerstable would then see this tweet appear in her Twitter feed -and- it would also appear in her list of “Tweets mentioning @makerstable”. This last point is important because “Tweets mentioning” or “mentions” for short provide a way for users to notice the tweets that are most important to them- tweets about themselves!

A reply doesn’t necessarily need to be a response to a specific tweet. It can be simply a message to a specific Twitter user. For example, if I simply wanted to ask someone on Twitter a question I could say “@BostonTweet Who makes the best burrito in Boston?” Further, the person you’re targeting with the reply doesn’t even need to be someone you follow on Twitter. You can reply to anyone and it doesn’t even need to be a response to something specific they’ve said recently.

When you reply to a user, that tweet is viewable to everyone on Twitter. However, it will only appear on other users’ Twitter feeds if they are following the person that the tweet starts with. Say for example you follow @makerstable in the example above. You would see my tweet that was a reply to her in your Twitter feed. If you weren’t following @makerstable, you would not. Either way, if you viewed all of my tweets (by clicking on my username in Twitter) you’d see this tweet.

How to use replies:

Replies are a great way to engage people on Twitter. It lets people know that you’re listening to what they’re saying and not just following their updates. It’s also a great way to respond to people who aren’t following you but have asked a question that you might be able to help with. Say you own a wine shop and you sell a particular wine. You could create a Twitter search for that wine and when you noticed someone tweet “Does anyone know of a wine store in Boston that sells Cakebread?” You could reply to them and let them know that you do. Using Twitter as a lazyweb can be powerful.

How not to use replies:

It’s not really that useful to frequently reply “ha!” “lol!” or “so true!” to something someone has said. This can be annoying when a group of people with similar interests follow each other and your well intentioned tweets begin to fill up someone’s Twitter feed. Also, it’s not a good idea to reply without providing context. Twitter has a notion of threaded conversations, but it also moves pretty fast so it’s a good idea to reply with context as to which tweet you’re responding to. Instead of “lol!” say “@mnik That’s hilarious! Whenever I hear the word ‘webinar’ I cringe too.”

Important points to remember about replies:

  • Replies don’t necessarily need to be responses to something specific someone has said
  • Replies are public so be careful what you say
  • You can reply to someone even if you’re not following them
  • Limit the use of inconsequential replies. Some people don’t like it when Twitter is used as a chat room.

Question of the Day: What other nuances about about replies weren’t obvious to you when you first started using Twitter?

[Read Part 2 of this post here]

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Tweeting For Business

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by Web Designer Debbie Campbell (@redkitedesign) from Red Kite Design.

One of my networking/leads groups got off on a tangent in early December and decided that we needed to learn more about social networking. One Facebook enthusiast volunteered to do a presentation on that, and since I had the most experience with Twitter (all of 5 weeks) I was nominated to do the Twitter talk.

So I’d been using Twitter for just over a month, although I’d had an account for a lot longer. I had never really spent the time to understand what it was about, and frankly wasn’t convinced that it would useful for me as a businessperson.

That may sound odd. I’m a web designer and developer, and for the past six months I’ve been a very busy one. I have a lot of demands for my time – taking online classes, going to meetings, project work, blogging, LinkedIn, and so on. I thought that Twitter looked like a big waste of time.

But, I decided to give it a try. I read a lot of articles on using Twitter for business, and that did help – it gave me a laundry list of things I could be using it for as a creative – but I’m convinced that the only way to figure out if Twitter’s good for you is to try it yourself.

My verdict? For me the answer is ‘yes.’ I’ve met a lot of other professionals that I would never have known otherwise. I get feedback on questions, I get help with problems in my work. I talk to other web designers and developers and get interesting opinions on just about any topic you can imagine from people in wildly different fields.

I like the immediacy of Twitter. What it’s really like for me is a river of ongoing conversation that I can dip into at any time and get caught up in, if I choose. Sometimes I do have to turn it off – it gets distracting. But when I want to be involved, I can be, instantly. It’s kind of nice to have so many to talk to when you’re working on your own.

I’ve also found that it’s much more personal than tools like LinkedIn, where you basically spread out your entire professional life for someone to see on one page. Twitter requires ongoing participation and rewards it by allowing you to get to know people over time – not just as a representative of some company but as a real person with real interests including and beyond their work.

Anyway, my talk was very well received. There were a lot of questions (I take that as a compliment) and it was a good hour of back-and-forth discussion that morning. A few others in our group have taken the first step in getting involved and have actually set up accounts. I couldn’t promise them that they would love Twitter, but I think I gave enough information to make it less intimidating and fueled their curiosity enough to give it a try.

I learned a lot in preparing for my presentation; besides my slideshow (see below), I also have a resource list I put together a handout (PDF).

Slideshow: http://www.slideshare.net/redkitedesign/twitter-010909-presentation

Creating Your Own Twitter Groups with Twittbot [Review]

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Today social media and content strategist Kari Rippetoe, author of The Caffeinated Blog, reviews group Twittering app Twittbot.

Do you have a Twitter account for your company, and would like to give employees access to post to it? Would you like to start your own Twitter group and allow others to join and post their own relevant tweets? Twittbot may just be what you’re looking for.

What is Twittbot?

According to the website (twittbot.com), “TwittBot is a service that allows multiple people to publish to a single Twitter account, and for a single person to post to multiple Twitter accounts.” Developed by app developer Nick Davis (@davinic), it’s a free service that just launched in open beta on December 4th.

How Does it Work?

By creating a Twittbot account using your current Twitter username and password, you can allow others to post to that account with a simple @ reply. This allows you to create your own groups on Twitter. You can keep the group (or “bot”) closed (meaning that only authors that you allow will be able to post tweets to the account), or open it up for anyone to post.

The Test

To test this out, I created a Twitter account called coffeelinks (for my inner coffee geek). I kept the coffeelinks bot closed and invited others to join my group. I added those who were interested as authors, as shown below (click to enlarge):

twittbot.jpg

I then told all allowed users to post links to coffee-related news, recipes, reviews, etc. to @coffeelinks. When they did, it showed up on the coffeelinks Twitter profile like this:

coffeelinks.jpg

The post is preceded by the author’s username, so you can see who is posting to the account. I’m able to monitor the status of all posts through the Twittbot user interface and decide whether or not to publish a certain post. I can unpublish posts, or even allow authors who aren’t on my list (since the bot is closed).

twittbot-2.jpg

The Verdict

Overall, I think Twittbot is a useful tool. It makes “group tweeting” and community-building via Twitter pretty easy – either for a company that wants a new way to engage customers on Twitter, or an individual who wants to start a Twitter group around his/her hobby. Twittbot does, however, have a little way to go before it becomes the robust group Twittering tool that I know it can be.

Looking through the user interface, there are quite a few bits that are still in development and “coming soon” – such as pro settings for auto-following, spam filtering, and update frequency. Also, once you’re in the UI, there are no links to help documentation or even back to the Twittbot homepage (where you’ll find a link to the tutorial). While the UI is pretty intuitive, it wasn’t entirely clear to me how to do certain things (like post to more than one account), and I ended up having to send a tweet to Nick Davis for his help. To his credit – he did respond quickly and with clear instructions for a single user who wants to post to more than one account.

Another drawback is that it can take up to 10 minutes for a post to be published to an account. One of the coffeelinks group members pointed this out to me – he mentioned that he posted a link to @coffeelinks; but it wasn’t showing on the @coffeelinks page. It eventually did; but I think 10 minutes is a bit long to wait in the Twitterworld.

What I’d Like to See

What I’d eventually like to see is a better way to manage multiple Twitter accounts through one Twittbot interface – and clearer instructions for doing so. As far as help documentation goes, I’d like to see a help section fleshed out and added to the UI for easy access – without having to go back to the homepage.

I’d also like to see options for how authors’ usernames are shown on tweets they post. Currently, they’re shown in parentheses at the beginning of the tweet. Depending on how you plan to use this tool, you may instead want author usernames to appear at the end of the tweet, or perhaps not appear at all (useful if you have several people at your company posting to a single company Twitter account; but you want tweets on that account to all show as coming from the company rather than individual employees).

Twittbot has a lot going for it, and a lot of potential as well. I recommend taking a look at it if you’re interested in building your own Twitter community.

Squidoo Release TwttrStrm – Organize and Archive Feedback from Your Followers

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A few minutes ago Squidoo released a new Twitter tool by the name of TwttrStrm.

In TwttrStrm’s own words – this is a tool that helps you to “Ask a question of your Twitter followers and easily gather all their answers in one spot.”

The process is simple:

TwttrStrm.png

Once you’ve filled in the form you’re taken to a Twttrstrm page where you can tweet your question and create a Squidoo lens to host the conversation. On the lens your question or statement is of course asked but you can add an image, where information on your topic is shown, where your latest tweets are shown etc.

Here’s a Twttrstrm that I created where I asked ‘ What Feature Do You Wish Twitter Would Add?’

Seth Godin (founder of Squidoo) comments on Twttrstrm – “Here’s the magic part, as your followers click through and respond, the storm spreads to their followers. So, in short, it’s a threaded, viral, structured conversation in the middle of the Twitter melee.”

I’ve not fully had the opportunity to test Twttrstrm yet – but I think it has potential. One of the things that many of us on Twitter struggle with is being able to collect and make sense of replies to our questions – this takes a step in the right direction in meeting this need. I suspect it’ll be particularly helpful for those who already use Squidoo (as it’s very much reliant upon that site).

Have a play with TwttrStrm and let me know what you think in comments below.

5 Twitter Applications and Tools that Made Me a Better Twitter User in 2008

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Which Twitter Applications have you valued the most in 2008?

Here’s a quick list of 5 that have enhanced my own use of Twitter this year and why:

tweetdeck.pngTweetDeck has become my primary Desktop Twitter client over the last 6 months of the year and has quite literally changed the way that I Tweet on a number of levels.

One of the biggest impacts that it has had is in the way that it builds ‘groups’ into my twitter workflow. This has helped me immensely to manage the noise that is associated with following and being followed by thousands of people.

Groups enable you to select any number of Twitter users to follow in a special window. This means that if you miss their twees in the ‘all tweets’ timeline you are likely to see their tweets in the group you’ve set up.

Also powerful in TweetDeck is the ‘Search’ feature which enables you to track keywords and who is using them right from within your Twitter Client.

tweet-deck.jpg

I’m also a big user of TwitScoop so having the ability to have it included in a window within the client is handy too.

I guess as I think about it – the reason I like TweetDeck is that it enables me to use a variety of tools that could be accessed by a variety of services – all within the one client. I’m not constantly having to run to a search tool, logging into TwitScoop, checking individuals twitter pages – it’s all happening on my desktop in the one application.

I also love that it can be run quite effectively in a single column view or opened up to a more comprehensive one across the full screen.

The fact that TweetDeck is still only at version 0.20b excites me – there’s obviously a lot more to come!

TweetDeck is my Twitter application of the year!

twitterlator-pro.jpg
Another massive change in my use of Twitter mid year was when I started using the iPhone as my primary mobile phone. I’d been looking forward to this for a long time (Australia only got the iPhone with the new 3G version.

Being able to Tweet from the road, local cafe, while waiting for the Train, at the football…. etc was quite a new experience and so I needed an iPhone Twitter client that was up for the job.

I tested them all – starting with the free applications and then progressing to the paid ones. I settled on Twitterlator Pro (itunes url) for a number of reasons.

Perhaps the biggest reason was the ‘replies’ page. Again – my biggest challenge with Twitter is that I am following a lot of people – so to follow the timeline for everyone that I follow is just not practical. When on my iPhone I tend to live more in the ‘replies’ section and Twitterlator Pro has one of the best of these.

I also love that you can manage multiple Twitter accounts from the one application, that you can see Twitpic pictures within messages, that it has a ‘nearby’ feature to find out who is twittering close by – etc. Many of these features can be found within other iPhone Twitter clients but for me Twitterlator Pro simply ‘fits’ with my Twitter workflow.

tweetsville.jpgNote – there is a notable up and coming iPhone Twitter client that could just take the place of Twitterlator Pro.

In the last month or so Tweetsville (itunes url) was launched and while I’m hooked on Twitterlator Pro Tweetsville (website) has been getting more and more of my iPhone Twittering attention because – well, its got most of the features that I use on Twitterlator Pro but just seems more intuitive.

It’s in its early versions so still has room to improve but I suspect will become my #1 iPhone application in 2009 – the only reason I didn’t name it in my main list is because I’ve been using Twitterlator Pro for six months and so it’s really been more useful to me this year than the one month I’ve had with Tweetsville.

twitterBar.pngI almost overlooked this application when planning this list – simply because it’s become such a part of my Twitter workflow that it has almost become invisible.

TwitterBar is a Firefox Add-on that allows me to share links on twitter from the address bar of Firefox.

As I’m surfing – if I find a site that I like and want to share all I do is simply add a few words that I want to include with the link to the address bar (before or after the URL) and then click a tiny little grey button to the right of the address bar. Doing this posts the URL and my message to Twitter.

If I’m not sure if I have enough characters left I hover the cursor over this little grey button and it tells me how many I have left.

There are other tools for sharing URLS on Twitter and I’ve tested many of them – but this little add-on is quick, easy, quick and unobtrusive…. and I use it 10-20 times a day!

twitterfeed.pngI know some on Twitter don’t like tools that automatically post links from blogs – but…. well I’m a blogger and my Twittering centers around blogging. Add to that that most of my followers are online when I’m asleep because I live in Australian and I needed a tool that would do what TwitterFeed does.

In short – TwitterFeed checks the RSS feeds to my blogs every hour (you can change this frequency) and if something new has appeared in the feed it takes the link and tweets it for me. It allows me to customize the tweets so I can add a little message (“New from TwiTip:” for example) so followers know what the link is.

There are options for what is shown (you can show the title, title and description and description only) and you can even filter your tweets by keywords (so that only some links get posted).

TwitterFeed offers you a range of URL shortening services – I use Tweetburner (twurl) which allows me to go to Tweetburner and check what links are being clicked on most (handy to know as a blogger interested in tracking what posts are connecting with readers most).

Again – there are other tools out there including some good WordPress plugins that do it from your blog – but I use TwitterFeed because…. well it works (99% of the time).

twitscoop.pngThis is another tool that I’m constantly looking at (more than I realize). As mentioned above – I use it largely because it is built into TweetDeck but do use the actual site too.

There are a number of things that I use it for including:

1. It’s my newspaper in the morning – one of the first things I do in the morning is to check TwitScoop to see what is ‘hot’. I’m amazed how much news I find through it over my morning coffee.

2. As a blogger is is a fantastic tool for watching for hot trends and topics that are being discussion right now. A number of times I’ve been able to break stories simply by watching what is ‘buzzing now’.

3. Conferences – it’s also quite useful when you’re at a conference, listening to a speaker or tracking a live event to see what people are saying about it.

Other tools that I’ve been using:

There must be hundreds of Twitter Applications and Tools available now so the above 5 just scratch the surface. I’d love to hear your own Top 5 list in comments below.

Before you do – here’s a few others that I use from time to time.

  • TweetBurner – as mentioned above, I use this to shorten urls and track what gets clicked on (TwitClicks is another of these).
  • Twhirl – I used this a lot at the start of the year and still do on occassion – but TweetDeck has taken it over.
  • Tweetlater – I only use it occassionally but it is useful if you need to set a Tweet to go off later.
  • MrTweet – everyone’s been raving about this new service lately – it recommends people for you to follow based upon your network.
  • TweetBeep – free twitter alerts for keywords
  • TweetScan – another alerts tool
  • TweetStats – interesting stats on your twitter useage

OK – so it’s over to you – what are your Top 5 Twitter Applications and Tools for 2008?

Twitter Email Alerts - Tweet Scan

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In the innovative world of Microblogging, one site aims to organize it all. Tweet Scan searches Twitter, identi.ca and other Status.net-based sites with more being added all the time.

You can search public messages and user profiles with results available via email, RSS, and JSON.

For more information check our API page or read our Blog

Benefits of using Tweet Scan Email Alerts:

  • Find lost or multi-user replies.
  • Scan up to 10 phrases for daily or weekly delivery
  • No ads or spam.
  • Turn it off at any time.

Services indexed by Tweet Scan:

Tweet Scan is a Sterry IT, LLC project.

Free Twitter Alerts by Email!

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Free Twitter Alerts by Email!

If you love Twitter, you'll love TweetBeep! Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything, with hourly updates! You can even keep track of who's tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL (like bit.ly or tinyurl.com). Now, how cool is that?!

Great for online reputation management, catching all your @replies and @mentions, finding job/networking opportunities, keeping up on your favorite hobby, and more!

TweetBeep has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times!

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Upgrade your account to TweetBeep Premium! For $20/month you get 200 alerts, a 15 minute alert option, and no advertisements! With TweetBeep Premium you can respond quickly to relevant tweets! Just sign up for a free account and then click the Upgrade link!

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Note: Before you begin receiving alerts, you must check your email and click on the link!

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