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Twitter’s origins lie in a “daylong brainstorming session” held by board members of the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, then an undergraduate student at New York University, introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group. The original project code name for the service was twttr, an idea that Williams later ascribed to Noah Glass, inspired by Flickr and the five-character length of American SMS short codes. The decision was also partly due to the fact that domain twitter.com was already in use, and it was six months after the launch of twttr that the crew purchased the domain and changed the name of the service to Twitter. The developers initially considered “10958” as a short code, but later changed it to “40404” for “ease of use and memorability”. Work on the project started on March 21, 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter message at 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST): “just setting up my twttr”. Dorsey has explained the origin of the “Twitter” title:
“…we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”
The first Twitter prototype, developed by Dorsey and contractor Florian Weber, was used as an internal service for Odeo employees and the full version was introduced publicly on July 15, 2006. In October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Dorsey, and other members of Odeo formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo, together with its assets—including Odeo.com and Twitter.com—from the investors and shareholders. Williams fired Glass, who was silent about his part in Twitter’s startup until 2011. Twitter spun off into its own company in April 2007. Williams provided insight into the ambiguity that defined this early period in a 2013 interview:
With Twitter, it wasn’t clear what it was. They called it a social network, they called it microblogging, but it was hard to define, because it didn’t replace anything. There was this path of discovery with something like that, where over time you figure out what it is. Twitter actually changed from what we thought it was in the beginning, which we described as status updates and a social utility. It is that, in part, but the insight we eventually came to was Twitter was really more of an information network than it is a social network.
The tipping point for Twitter’s popularity was the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference. During the event, Twitter usage increased from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000. “The Twitter people cleverly placed two 60-inch plasma screens in the conference hallways, exclusively streaming Twitter messages,” remarked Newsweek’s Steven Levy. “Hundreds of conference-goers kept tabs on each other via constant twitters. Panelists and speakers mentioned the service, and the bloggers in attendance touted it.”
Reaction at the conference was highly positive. Blogger Scott Beale said that Twitter was “absolutely ruling” SXSWi. Social software researcher danah boyd said Twitter was “owning” the conference. Twitter staff received the festival’s Web Award prize with the remark “we’d like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!” The first unassisted off-Earth Twitter message was posted from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut T. J. Creamer on January 22, 2010. By late November 2010, an average of a dozen updates per day were posted on the astronauts’ communal account, @NASA_Astronauts. NASA has also hosted over 25 “tweetups”, events that provide guests with VIP access to NASA facilities and speakers with the goal of leveraging participants’ social networks to further the outreach goals of NASA. In August 2010, the company appointed Adam Bain from News Corp.’s Fox Audience Network as president of revenue.
Richard William “Dick” Costolo was the CEO of Twitter from 2010 to 2015; he also served as the COO before becoming CEO. He took over as CEO from Evan Williams in October 2010.
Understand and unlock the power of Twitter for your business
Twitter is where people connect with their passions, share their opinions, and find out what’s happening in the world right now. Because people are in a discovery mindset when they’re on Twitter, they’re open to interacting with new businesses.
Businesses can tap into Twitter to expand their reach and connect with new and existing customers. Here are some ways your business can leverage Twitter.
Discover what’s happening right now
Twitter gives you access to what’s going on in your industry, community, and around the world. Use Twitter search to listen to the relevant conversations that are happening and jump in where you can add value.
Increase your brand awareness
Raise the profile of your business and increase the impact of your marketing by using Twitter to regularly communicate with your followers. Extend your reach even further with Twitter Ads.
Provide timely customer service
People often talk about the products they use on Twitter, so it’s a natural place to provide customer service. In fact, 85% of SMB Twitter users said that it’s important that businesses provide customer support on Twitter. Use it to quickly and easily respond to support queries. That will help you develop a good reputation for your business, and strong relationships with customers.
Connect with potential customers, brand advocates, and influencers
Twitter allows you to follow and interact with people outside of your personal network. It’s a great way of joining or even starting discussions with influencers and industry experts to raise the profile of your business and build valuable connections.
Basic Twitter Special Course Session #01
The building blocks of Twitter
You’ll need to understand the language and terminology used so that you’re able to interact with customers and engage in conversations seamlessly. Here are some definitions to get you started:
A Tweet is a message posted on Twitter that can contain text, photos, links and videos.
Click ‘reply’ to respond to anyone’s Tweet. Replying to a Tweet is a way to show you’re listening and provide helpful answers.
A Retweet is sharing a Tweet from someone else with your followers. Click the Retweet button to share the Tweet as is, or quote the Tweet to add a comment of your own.
A like is a simple way to acknowledge a Tweet. It can also be useful to use as a bookmarking tool if you want to easily find a Tweet again. Tap the heart icon to like a Tweet and the author will see that you appreciate it.
A hashtag is any word, or phrase without spaces, beginning with the # symbol. People use hashtags to organize conversations and make it easier to find all content related to a given topic. Click on a hashtag to go directly to the search results for that term. Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.
Bring a Tweet to another person’s attention by including their @username in your message. You could use it to ask someone a question, to thank them, or simply to highlight a piece of content.
Establish your Twitter presence
Your profile shows the world who you are, and first impressions count. Every element should showcase your best content and accurately reflect your business identity.
Here’s an overview of the five different parts of a Twitter profile and some best practices to keep in mind as you build your business’ home on Twitter.
Your Twitter @username
Your username, also known as your handle, is your unique identifier on Twitter. It can contain up to 15 characters and should help people easily find your business. Your name appears on top of your username. They can be the same — but they don’t have to be.
Your profile photo
Choose a profile photo that visually represents your business or brand and fits well in a small space. This image isn’t just on your profile page; it will be shown as the icon in every Tweet you post.
You have 160 characters to let people know what makes your business special, and why they should follow you. Include useful information, such as your location or business hours, and a link to your website. Use a unique link, so you can track visitors to your site from Twitter.
Your header image
Consider this a billboard for your business. You can feature products, use a graphic with text, or highlight your employees. Swap out this image periodically to spotlight promotions, events, or product news.
Your pinned Tweet
Keep an important Tweet at the top of your timeline by pinning it there. Click on the “more” option on the Tweet you want to pin and select “Pin to your profile page.” Use this feature to make sure visitors to your profile can’t miss your latest news, products, offerings, or events.
Twitter profile specifications
The recommended image size for your profile pic is 400×400 pixels; the image will be resized to fit.
The recommended size for a Twitter header image is 1500×500 pixels. On mobile, it’ll be cropped to a 2:1 aspect ratio.
Use a GIF or PNG file for vector-based and line art images.
For photos, upload a JPG or PNG file.
Is your profile up to date and following our best practices? Click the Tweet button below to let the world know you’re ready to meet them on Twitter.
The value of a follower
When someone follows you on Twitter, they not only opt in to see your Tweets — they also take actions that provide value to your business.
In fact, the findings from our ”Small Business Customer Insights Study” (2016) show that followers feel more positively about your business, help you expand your reach, and increase sales.
Ready to build a community of engaged and valuable Twitter followers?
Here are five steps to get started:
Promote your username everywhere! Add a follow button to your website, include a link to your Twitter profile in your email signature, and promote it on offline collateral such as business cards, or store signage.
Bring your offline advocates online. Ask your employees to follow you and Retweet your content. If you partner with other businesses, arrange to promote each other’s handles.
Ask for Retweets. When someone Retweets your content, they’re sharing your business with their networks and your reach grows exponentially. Be direct, and ask your followers for their support. Try an incentive: You can offer to release an exclusive coupon code or offer if a Tweet reaches a certain number of Retweets.
Create your Twitter content strategy
Compelling content will help you attract new followers and keep them engaged over time.
There’s no right or wrong number of times you should Tweet each day, or when. Instead, focus on creating a regular cadence of content that’s relevant to your target audience and authentic to your business.
Need some inspiration? Here are five best practices to help you create Tweets that spark conversations and keep your audience engaged.
Keep it short
A concise Tweet makes an impact. Keep each Tweet focused on one specific message rather than trying to communicate multiple things. You can include a link to a blog post or website if you have a longer message to convey.
Use visuals in your Tweets
Adding a bold image, video, or GIF to your Tweets adds a touch of personality, and leads to higher Tweet engagement rates. In fact, people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that contain videos and photos.* Can’t decide which photo to use? You can attach up to four photos to a single Tweet.
Incorporate relevant hashtags
Hashtags are a powerful tool that allow you to expand your reach and tap into relevant conversations. Focus on keywords that are relevant to your business. Best practices recommend using no more than two hashtags per Tweet.
One simple way to incorporate hashtags is by identifying popular events to which you can link your business in an authentic way. Remember, these can be everyday, personal events like meals or commutes, as well as wider cultural events, like Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year.
Ask questions and run polls
Asking questions is an effective way to to interact with your audience, bring readers into the conversation, and understand people’s opinions. Tweet open-ended questions or use Twitter polls to survey on specific responses.
Curate and connect with Retweets and replies
Retweeting relevant content and replying to Tweets are great ways to maintain a robust Twitter presence. Positive customer feedback, helpful articles, and messages that align with your business’s authentic voice are all impactful content to Retweet. When in doubt, remember this rule of thumb: your Retweets reflect back on your business and should align with your purpose and values.
People love to talk to businesses directly on Twitter. Be responsive to any questions, comments, and criticisms that come your way. To avoid long exchanges, switch to Direct Messages to resolve any complex issues. You can now include a deep link in a Tweet that displays a ‘Send a private message’ call-to-action button to enable customers to send you a Direct Message.
Now that you’re Tweeting out different content types, checking your free Twitter analytics will help you understand what content resonates with your audience. Use the Tweet activity dashboard to monitor engagement rates — this will help give you a better understanding of what your audience wants to see. Experiment with new creative elements often and hone what performs well.
Connect with your customers and community on Twitter
For businesses, Twitter is a place to share news, tell stories, and have conversations that support, educate, and delight their customers. It’s a place for authentic interactions.
Follow these best practices to amplify your efforts on Twitter while letting your business’s personality shine.
Create a regular cadence
Focus on creating a regular cadence of content that’s relevant to your target audience and authentic to your business.
With Twitter Dashboard you can easily schedule Tweets to reach your audience when they’re online, but you’re busy doing other things.
Tweet content that resonates
Compelling content will help you attract new followers and keep them engaged over time. Kickstart your creative process with Tweet tips just for businesses. They’re great when you’re not sure what to Tweet and offer ideas to spark conversations and keep your audience engaged.
For example, if you work at a restaurant, a tip like, “Your team is as unique as your business. Tweet a surprising fact about one of your team members,” might remind you to share some recent recognition your chef received.
Track your analytics
Setting goals and accurately tracking your results in a timely manner is critical to growing your business. Track how much content you’re Tweeting and measure the impressions, likes, Retweets, and replies. Use Twitter Analytics to dive deeper and better understand which content is resonating with your target audience.
Source: Twitter for Business Internal Data, September 2016
Basic Twitter Special Course Session #02
Now The Big Question is How Twitter can help your business
People come to Twitter to discover what’s happening in the world right now, to share information instantly, and to connect with people and businesses around the globe.
With hundreds of millions of users and over 500 million Tweets being sent each day, Twitter offers a great opportunity for businesses to reach a global audience of new and existing customers.
No matter what type of business you are — from a large retailer to a freelance designer; from a B2B software provider to a mobile app company — you can use Twitter to build meaningful connections with a relevant and engaged audience. These connections can lead to actions across a network of loyal customers for your business.