Twitter, the real-time 24/7 social media newsfeed, has made the world a better place. From sharing the image of the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane landing, alerting the world to the Boston Marathon bombing before press outlets, spreading the furor of the Arab Spring and the Turkish revolutions, and spilling the beans on the raid of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, Twitter has connected the world. Twitter works best when its users drive its functionality. Here are some of the best tips culled from its 10 years of existence — and ways users can keep making it better.
You Have the Power
Twitter was originally created on March 21, 2006 as a messaging service to send status updates via SMS. But its users didn’t want to use it that way. They found the platform much more helpful for sharing news and entertainment and having conversations with people halfway across the world in real time. Everything from the @ reply to the tweet to hashtags came from Twitter users. They’re the single biggest driving force of the platform. While Twitter’s closed its API to control development of the service, there’s nothing to say that users still won’t inspire it. So get out there and use it!
140 Characters are King
Twitter’s distinct character limit came from its origins as an SMS system, which could only use 140 characters. While Twitter is considering removing its signature character limit, 140 characters is still the primary way people communicate on the platform. The best way to make use of the limit and get the most mileage for your tweets, according to Social Media Today is to structure them like this: MESSAGE – LINK – #HASHTAG – COMMENTARY. If you want people to respond back, keep the character limit to 100.
Digital Coffee Talk
Hashtags are like coffee shops: they’re places people gather to have conversations. Adding hashtags to your tweets is your way of participating in those conversations and building followers. If that last part feels a bit sleazy to you, you should know that the most popular hashtag on Twitter is #FF for Follow Friday. With 539 million mentions, you’ve got at least one continuous conversation to participate in. So get in there and discuss! Just don’t use more than two hashtags; according to How to Hashtag, tweets seem spammy when they’ve got more than two.
Founders Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass named their platform Twitter because the word means a short inconsequential burst of information. That word was a perfect encapsulation of their vision for a status update service, and it’s only gotten more relevant. Today, over 7,000 tweets are sent every second – and you can bet they’re personal. Join in the fun and share a little. Social Media Today suggests an 80/20 balance between cool stuff and personal stuff. That ratio will keep you from looking like a spammer. And if someone shares your stuff, thank them!
There are 320 million active Twitter users. One of them is bound to be near you – and know about all sorts of cool stuff you’d like. Mashable suggests searching for anything near you by adding “near:”city state” to Twitter’s search box. For example, typing “near:”Miami, Florida club” would return current tweets that happened in Miami, Florida with the keyword “club” in them. Get out there and explore!
Reach for the Stars
In 2009, astronaut Mike Massimino sent the very first tweet from space. NASA’s still a leader on the platform — and they learned all their best practices from their users. And it’s not just NASA: government agencies all over the world are turning to Twitter to share amazing content. Check it out and be inspired by what the rest of the world has to offer. And if you ever wanted to know how long it takes a space tweet to reach the whole planet, check out this interactive graph.
Share the Love
Ellen’s Oscar selfie is the most retweeted tweet of all-time. It’s not just that the photo is filled with celebrities, or taken by an incredibly likable celebrity at the Oscars. It’s a group of happy people. Happiness is the engine that drives tweets. The word “love” alone has been mentioned 34.8 billion times. According to Buffer, people are more likely to share and engage with positivity than anything else on Twitter — despite the proliferation of cyberbullying in cases like GamerGate. Use the platform for good and share images, jokes, or anything that makes you smile.
Given that Twitter’s shut developers out of its code, the future of the platform is uncertain. It may very well become obsolete without its users input. But one thing is certain: Twitter has absolutely made the world a better place. Hopefully, it will find a way to keep up the good work.
All images from Twitter unless otherwise noted