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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Anatomy of a Tweet

Posted by Nik Peachey

I don’t think anyone can question that Twitter has become an Internet phenomenon. With an estimated 500 Millions active users each month. What remains at question is how effective is it as a tool both for sharing and retrieving information?


To get the best out of Twitter you really need to understand the anatomy of a Tweet.

Here’s a simple Tweet:

RT@zzTechstuff: RT @NikPeachey: another fabulous web2.0 tool http://www.interestinglink.com/ #elt #tefl #efl #Esl #edtech

This is a break down of the anatomy:

The message
  • The message part is quite short and this is the basic information you want to share “another fabulous web2.0 tool http://www.interestinglink.com/”
For me twitter is pretty limiting in terms of sharing any real depth of information, but it’s a great way to share sources of deeper information such as links to site, blog or articles.

The Hash tags: #elt #tefl #efl #Esl #edtech
  • These are pretty vital. Although many people ‘follow’ hundreds or even tens of thousands of people, they very seldom follow the main stream of information from their followers because it just moves too quickly and nobody has that much time, so what tends to happen is people follow particular tags. By clicking on one of these tags in a tweet you can find what the twitter community as a whole has to say about this specific topic. Believe me that’s much simpler and more useful than trying to scan a constant stream of information as it feeds into your page.
Likewise, if you want to share information and you actually want people to see it including an accurate hash tag will dramatically increase your chances of it being picked out from the massive crowd of information.

With longer term Twitter users ‘following’ hundreds if not thousands of people, I would estimate that most Tweets that simply consist of 140 characters of ‘message’ are actually seen by very few, if any, people, so following the right people and getting your hash tags on is really a vital part of exploiting the network.

The sources
  • The other key part of the tweet’s anatomy these “RT@zzTechstuff: RT @NikPeachey:
    They show the sources of the information. This one shows that the original source of information was @NikPeachey and it was then shared again by @zzTechstuff
This is really useful information as clicking on these source names takes you to their profile pages and you can find out what other information they share and then you can decide if you want to follow them.

Getting the best out of Twitter really depends on knowing how best to you use it to get what you want.

How about you?
  • What are your tips for getting the best out of your Twitter network?

4 comments:

Andy H said...

I don't know about anyone else, but I find hashtags often move much faster than my regular friends stream. So, I think for me it's the opposite - I form lists of certain different types of "friends" on tweetdeck (based on the subject they usually tweet about), and follow things that way. If I do a search using hashtags, I quickly get frustrated trying to follow it and give up.

Nik Peachey said...

Um? Hi Andy

That's interesting. I tend not to use the list feature at all. The tags I tend to check through are usually #elt #tefl #efl #Esl #edtech the only time I really find these moving fast is if there is some form of live event going on. I tend though not to go looking for information on Twitter, as I get so much info coming my way through RSS feeds, but I tend to use it more whilst procrastinating and taking breaks from other stuff. I guess so much depends on what you want to get from it and how that fits with what you do.

Thanks for the comment.

Best

Nik

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks - at last I understand what hash tags 'mean' (I knew what they were but not why they were useful) and the RT info also clarifies things for me.

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