The Anatomy of a Tweet (for Absolute Beginners)

The Anatomy of a Tweet

Sample Tweet 2Last week, I showed my husband a Tweet I found particularly engaging, and he responded that he could barely understand it given all the tags and hashtags. Now, this is an exceptionally educated man, genius smart, who just doesn’t use Twitter. And I thought “No wonder Twitter is so intimidating to newbies. There’s often a lot of links and shorthand to interpret if you’re not used to the code.”

A lot of the businesses we work with want to be on Twitter but just don’t understand how it works. So, for the absolute beginner, I offer you the anatomy of a good Tweet.

If you click on any given Tweet, it will open up into a box like this one. I chose this Tweet because it shows a variety of features that can be used on Twitter.

At the top, you can see who wrote the Tweet and their Twitter handle. In this case Convince & Convert, otherwise known on Twitter by the handle @convince.

The Tweet itself is a short sentence or phrase which incorporates tags and hashtags in its syntax. Hashtags are search words – if you click on #reviews, you will see a list of Tweets which incorporate the same hashtag. Same with #Manipurated and #ICON16. This feature is useful if you want to provide a way for people to find your Tweet by subject matter. If you are a plumber, you’d want to incorporate #plumbing into your Tweets. If you are a car dealership, you’d want to incorporate #car or #Ford (or whatever make you’re discussing) into your Tweets. Then, anyone searching for those terms would be taken to a list which would include your Tweet. Similarly, if I want to find out more about the book he mentions here, I can click on #Manipurated and see what people are saying about it. You don’t have to put hashtags only at the end of your Tweet. You can use them anywhere, right in the middle of your sentence if you choose, just like this one.

Hashtags also serve a useful purpose if you want to encourage people to talk about a specific topic. You can create a hashtag that people can use to have a conversation about your topic. For example, say I want to talk to my followers about how they use Facebook. I might use a tag like #FBTalk. I could ask a question and tell followers to use #FBTalk in their replies. Then I could click on the hashtag and see what everyone is saying about that topic.

Now to the tag. @daniellemin is the Twitter handle of another user. If you are mentioning another Twitter user in your Tweet, it’s good policy to use their Twitter handle instead of their name. Again, anyone reading your tag will then be able to click on the tag and see who you’re talking about. Furthermore, @daniellemin will get a notification that he’s been mentioned in a Tweet, and he’s likely to respond, Retweet, or Like the Tweet. Any of those responses are beneficial as they mean more people will see your Tweet.

Twitter feed 1You can also also add links to websites or other social media posts into Tweets by adding a web address. It’s a good idea to shorten your link by using a service like Ow.ly, or by posting through Hootsuite or another such program which provides a link shortening tool. You only have 140 characters in a Tweet, and the shorter the better. I usually advise folks to aim to keep their Tweets about 100-120 characters at most. If someone Retweets your post, they might want to add their own commentary. Also, your username will be added to the front of the Tweet, and you want to have room for that to happen. Otherwise your Tweet will be automatically truncated and people will have to click to see the whole Tweet.

Finally, you can add media to your Tweets. The above Tweet has two pictures added to it, but you can use YouTube videos as well, Instagram posts, almost anything. You do this when you’re writing a Tweet by clicking on the camera button below the text box. While I’m mentioning it, underneath the text box you’ll also see the option to tag your location, which again, helps people find your Tweet, or create a Poll.

Underneath a Tweet, you’ll see four symbols, a left arrow, two circular arrows, a heart, and three dots. If you click the left arrow, a box will open for you to respond to the Tweet. The original poster will be tagged and see your response. Click on the circular arrows to Retweet the post, which shares it with your own followers. You’ll be given the option to simply Retweet the post or to Quote the post – in which you can add your own comment before sharing it. The heart symbol Likes the post. The three dots give you other options for what you’d like to do with the Tweet, such as sharing it in a Direct Message (which is a private message to a user) or Blocking the Tweet. If you see numbers next to these symbols, that tells you how many times a Tweet has been Retweeted or Liked.

Finally, at the very bottom, you have an easy box to reply to the Tweet. Note that this includes everyone tagged in the post as well as the original Tweeter. You can take any of them out if you like.

So that’s it – the basic anatomy of a Tweet. Hopefully that takes some of the mystery out of what you see when you read through your Twitter feed.