5 fundamental things you must understand about Twitter


Such a lovely, silly name for such an important social media tool.

In my last post, I wrote the five fundamental things you must know about Facebook. In it, I called Twitter a ‘sexy flirt.’ Some of my Twitter followers took offence to that, and pointed out how often I’m on the social media tool.

It’s true – I tweet a lot. Last night I live blogged/tweeted a fascinating debate on Canada’s Press Gallery, asking ‘Does it matter?’ It was great to get immediate feedback from twitter followers on the statements made by panelists in real time.

So, to give my close companion – sexy flirt that Twitter is – its due, I’m going to offer five fundamentals you must know about Twitter.

1.  Twitter use is growing. Mocked by those who don’t understand it (how many times have you heard someone talking about ‘the twits who tweet?’), While Twitter won’t say how many users there are in Canada, those who use it know it’s growing. Of Twitter’s users, it’s a 53 percent/47 per cent female to male split. Here’s a more detailed demographic breakdown:

  • The largest age group on Twitter are those aged  16-24 (32 per cent) followed by the 35-44  age group (23 per cent) and 25-34 (22 per cent)
  • Forty per cent of those on Twitter are single, 35 per cent are married
  • Tweeps are an educated bunch – 42 per cent of users have a university education
  • More than half (54 per cent) don’t have kids in the house


2. Don’t drink and tweet. I’m not sure how much I need to expand on this – when it’s ‘bottoms up’, the phone needs to go down. It’s too easy to tweet away random thoughts that may come back to haunt. BE PROFESSIONAL – you are representing yourself and your organization in every post, even on your personal account. Take time to think about your posts. The professional practices of your company most likely apply online also, and extend to social media use.


3. Get snap happy – Tweet that pic. After analyzing millions of tweets from verified news users in the U.S., Twitter found that the photo is what resonates most with twitter followers.



From Twitter:

Photos the biggest lift in tweets, with quotes coming in a close second. Put another way, if @journalist normally gets an average of 100 retweets per post. A photo could drive that average to 127 per Tweet.

Tweets containing numbers, a video url and hashtags also lead to double-digit boost.


4. Ask your followers for photos. Twitter is a two-way street, a way to communicate with your audience. It’s okay to ask for photos. This doesn’t mean that as a journalist or content creator the photos you tweet all have to be yours. Let’s be honest, you won’t have something gripping to share every hour.  You should share why you want to contact someone, but maybe don’t take this approach:


From Jim Romenesko's great blog post
From Jim Romenesko’s great blog post

5. Be creative in how you tell your story. Yes, Twitter is a genius platform for breaking news and providing updates, but it can also be a platform to tell an ordinary story in an extraordinary way.  Check out this numbers report from CNN:






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