Katie Bouloubassis

With 500 million tweets sent per day by approximately 100 million daily users, Twitter is the fourth largest social media platform behind Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

As new updates roll out on Twitter, it’s tough to adjust, learn and implement the new features quickly. As an ever-changing platform, Twitter requires constant monitoring due to the rapid timeline updates of current events.

With the Tweet Tips below, get ready to actively engage with your current and potential customers on Twitter!

Tweet Actions
Creating original content to post and quoting existing tweets of others allows you to easily engage with followers. The comment you add makes it easy for your followers to understand the reasoning behind the retweet and how it connects to you and your business. Quoting essentially makes the entire tweet yours, so the engagement and impressions garnered from the “new” tweet reflects positively on your account.
What to Tweet
Your followers clicked the follow button for a reason. For the most part, you should tweet about your brand experience. As a business, you’re recognized by audiences for a product or service and they want to hear about it. A key component of any social platform, but especially Twitter, is engaging with others. Take time to find conversations around your industry’s topics and engage others in those conversations with a comment or a quote retweet. While your tweets should relate to your business, don’t shy away from engaging in other conversations that do not relate directly. Any comment added continues a larger conversation, and broadens your follower base.
Post a Poll
Utilize Twitter’s poll feature to expand engagement in a fun and creative way. Propose an open-ended question to your followers on a topic of your choice with up to four answers. A. Bright Idea’s campus recently received a makeover, sparking our own version of the poll-gone-viral, blue vs. gold dress debate. After several disagreements on the new color of one of our buildings, we took to Twitter to let our followers decide — blue or gray. Select how long your poll stays open, whether you want immediate results after 24 hours or a week to collect as many votes as possible.

Trends and Hashtags
Twitter has a daily list of trending topics and hashtags. The trends change multiple times a day, so when you see one that applies to you or your company, use it immediately. Using hashtags allows your content to become easily discoverable and essentially increase your chances of higher engagement and impressions, as well as gaining followers. Twitter bases trends of location, making it easy to select the best option for incorporating into your tweets. You can change the settings to see surrounding cities’ trends or country and world-wide trends. Crafting tweets to include additional hashtags can expand its discoverability, but Twitter recommends keeping it limited to no more than two hashtags per tweet.
Tagging
Tagging people and businesses in your tweets is, in essence, a way to talk to specific people or businesses directly on Twitter. With overly cluttered news feeds, if you have something to say to someone, tagging is the way to go. Additionally, tagging expands the reach of the post, garnering more impressions and in some cases, overall engagement. Giving shout-outs to other businesses through tagging can spark conversation or result in retweets, likes or follows.
Moments and Lists
Personalize your Twitter with Moments — curated stories about what’s happening, powered by tweets. Moments have a variety of topics, such as: Today, News, Sports, Entertainment and Fun. Moments can showcase your company culture, events and announcements for the public. When creating Moments, we recommend you use a mixture of videos, photos, gifs and full-text tweets to keep your followers engaged.Lists serve as a great tool when you want to narrow down your search on a specific topic. As a curated group of Twitter accounts, Lists include accounts that tweet about similar topics in one central location. Lists essentially become a separate timeline of its own, streaming tweets surrounding the designated topic. Create your own Lists or subscribe to those created by other Twitter users to engage in conversations related to your business.
280 Characters
In September 2017, Twitter introduced the roll-out of the new 280-character count to select accounts before officially granting all members usage in November. As advocates for perfect grammar and correct spelling, we enjoy the 280-character limit. Now, you don’t need abbreviations and number substitutions for words to save space. Don’t sacrifice your content’s value for the sake of condensing a tweet — take advantage of this gift and use the extra 140 characters as needed. While some users became outraged over this update, others used the extra space for fun, like Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres.

Remember, Twitter is a great tool for you and your business when used appropriately. Have fun and try out all of the features of the platform. Let us know if you plan to use Twitter more in 2018 or ask us any questions about the features mentioned by tweeting us @aBrightIdea96.

Katie Bouloubassis

Businesses constantly test new ways to connect with their customers. Traditionally, surveys, newsletters and courtesy follow-up calls served as key methods for businesses to connect with customers. While these strategies still hold value, new outreach methods now take center stage thanks to social media. According to Statista.com, 81% of the U.S. population uses social media in some form.

Smart, social-savvy businesses are now using the power of one social media feature, direct messaging, to connect more efficiently with their current and potential customers by breaking through the clutter.

Direct messaging, or DM as it’s commonly referred to, is available on all major social media platforms. Similar to sending a text message to a friend, a direct message allows you to send a private message to a person directly to their inbox, instead of posting on their social feed. DM achieves most of its popularity on Twitter and Instagram.

Businesses use DM to:

  • Connect with new followers and point them to the content or a product on their website
  • Ask questions about buying experience or quality of service
  • Answer questions customers ask on social media
  • Handle negative feedback or complaints privately instead of in the public feed
  • Send targeted messages to different types of followers
  • Request user-generated content for social media feeds

To add to the DM experience, personalize messages using the customer’s name or handle. Also, if you have a large audience list to reach with the same message, create a document with consistent messages you can easily transfer into a DM to help save time and maximize efficiency.

The images below illustrate a few sample implementation strategies for using DM.

Relationship building with new followers

To begin the relationship with a new follower, depending on the platform, a DM may take the form of something like the photo to the right.


Handling negative feedback

To handle a negative comment or feedback, acknowledge the communication and direct the conversation off of social media with a DM like this:

ABI: “We appreciate your feedback and want to learn more about the issue to discuss how we can help ensure the best service possible. Let’s set up a time we can discuss over the phone.”


Soliciting user-generated content

If your fans post great photos of your product and tag your company, use DM to ask for permission to use their photos on your feed. Engaging in this way creates customer loyalty and allows you to harness the power user-generated content. That DM might read something like the photo to the right.

[Pro-tip: If they say “yes,” thank them and make sure to give them credit for the photo in your post, e.g., (?: @TomEdison96)]


Direct Messages serve as a great way to personally reach customers on social media. While some may scoff at the idea saying, “It’s too intrusive,” DM allows you to speak directly to your target audience. If your business would like to initiate conversations and build relationships with current and potential customers, DM provides a simple, personal touch-point that can lead to new followers, customers or clients.

Test out your DM skills with us! Send us a message via Twitter DM or any other social platform. Let’s start the conversation!

Twitter: @aBrightIdea96
Instagram: @abrightidea
Facebook: A. Bright Idea Advertising & Public Relations @abrightidea

Happy messaging!

Shawn Nesaw

Keeping up with all the updates to each social media platform is a daunting task. With no set schedule for updates, some channels have multiple updates in one month and zero updates in another. Similarly, some channels have numerous new additions in one update, while others don’t.

With social media constantly evolving, it’s imperative for social media pros to stay up to date with the latest from each platform so they can stay ahead of the curve and use new features to address communication goals as soon as possible. Let’s get right into it – here is the June social media update round-up.

Facebook 

June saw a big improvement to Facebook Live video with the implementation of closed captioning. This update provides more access to Facebook Live video for people with hearing impairments. For this feature to work, turn on captioning settings and the captions will automatically appear in your live video.

Safety Check was updated with four new features:

    • Fundraising
    • Expanding community help
    • Sharing a personal note when completing a safety check-in is completed
    • Introducing crisis descriptions

Facebook Messenger’s video chat in feature also received an update to now include animated reactions, filters, masks, effects and the ability to take screenshots of your video chat.

 

Instagram 

We all grow and change and so do our Instagram feeds. The new Archive feature, introduced in June, allows users to move photos previously shared on your feed into Archive where only you can see them.

If you change your mind, select “show on profile ” and the image will reappear in its original spot. Just click the circle arrow in the top right corner of the app to start archiving.

Also rolled out in June, after you go live on Instagram,  you are prompted to share a replay on your Instagram Story to let more people catch up on what they missed.

 

Twitter

In June, Twitter rolled out new features for businesses allowing them to add buttons to drive actions in Direct Messages (DM).

Probably the biggest change in June across all platforms was the Twitter facelift. This generous and well-deserved update to the Twitter user interface (UI) this month showed users that Twitter is still a viable social media player and that it listens to its users. Without getting too technical, here are the new changes to Twitter.

Click to watch
  • Slide right to access your profile, additional accounts, settings and more.
  • Refined the typography throughout the app so headlines are bolder and distinct from the rest of the text in your feed.
  • Round profile pics
  • The icons and the reply button changed from an arrow to a speech bubble and all the icons were slimmed down.

 

Snapchat

Snapchat unveiled Snap Map, which allows users to see what people are up to around the world by using the new maps feature. Pinch on the screen to zoom out and view the map. This feature allows you to also select your location settings so you can decide who can see your location while you are on the app.

Additionally, Snapchat introduced the ability to design custom Geofilters right in the app for any special occasion – birthdays, anniversary parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. Until now, this ability was reserved for desktop and designers. To get started, tap “On-Demand Geofilters” in Settings. Pricing for Geofilters starts at $5.99 in the app.

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn received a few updates at once to improve the mobile experience. Now, you can see your connection history. Use this new feature to add some personal detail when you reach out.

Another new feature, Search Appearances, allows you to see how many people found you in search and the companies and job titles of the people searching for you.

Three other minor changes to the platform include:

  • Implementation of a new drag and drop feature allowing you to easily reorganize volunteer and education sections of your profile
  • Ability to add an image to any comment across the LinkedIn platform, when words just won’t do
  • Provide quick reply messages for when you want to reply, but don’t have the time

If you do not see these updates on your phone, go to the App Store or Google Play Store and update the apps to receive the latest features and check back next month for another roundup of social media updates.

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At A. Bright Idea, social media trends, statistics, best practices and innovative ideas are part of our daily operations, and staying on top of these industry changes prove crucial for our clients’ impact across multiple social media platforms. Social media serves as a free networking and outreach tool to build awareness and rapport with an audience. Businesses can build interest in their brands by posting relevant industry articles, news, events, photos, products and more – but how do you stay relevant and compete in this growing competitive environment? Social media offers the ability for businesses to segment and specifically target audiences with offers or messaging based on user profiles. If used strategically, social media provides the opportunity to elevate awareness, generate and sustain loyalty and reach new audiences.

Here are some quick, recent facts about social media:

  • 72% of all internet users are now active on social media
  • 89% of 18-29 year olds use social media
  • On average, Americans spend 16 minutes per hour on social media
  • 71% of users access social media from a mobile device
  • One million websites are accessed using the “Login with Facebook”
  • 23% of Facebook users login at least 5 times per day
  • 47% of Americans say Facebook is their #1 influencer of purchases

StayingTrendyInSM

With not only more social media platforms than ever, each social media outlet is changing every day, from the way you can advertise, to the layout of your brand’s page, to the best tips for engaging your audience. Keeping your social media active and fresh requires your due diligence, so here are some tips to engage your audience across many social platforms:

  • Photos, photos, photos.
    • Studies show posts get 85% higher engagement on Facebook and 35% more retweets.
  • Utilize Facebook advertising, but target your audience, even just a little goes a long way
  • Engage with other profiles and users, comment/reply to posts
  • Ask questions, offer facts/tips and utilize contests or giveaways
  • Repurpose content across platforms and website
  • Show a brand personality
  • Utilize your analytics data to capture audiences, posting times and more

A. Bright Idea’s expertise in social media continues to engage audiences for our clients, either through social media strategies implemented by our clients, or allowing A. Bright Idea to implement a strategy for you.
Email info@abrightideaonline.com or call 410-836-7180 | 707-935-1377 for questions.

 

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Twitter analytics are here! Learn your followers’ interests, understand your demographics and see which tweets work and don’t work with just the click of a button. Following in the footsteps of their social media competitor Facebook, Twitter is starting to give users access to profile analytics. Still in the rollout phase, businesses can use these tools to understand and reach their target market and send meaningful and efficient tweets. Soon, all businesses will be able to utilize these helpful tools.

Next time you log into Twitter, select the “Twitter Ads” option from your settings bar and follow the directions as given. Once you have logged in again, you will be able to choose from “timeline activity” or “followers,” these options will teach you all kinds of things about your online marketing efforts. Play around with Twitter’s new tools and learn how social media is working for you!

Timeline Activity Option Features

  • Mentions, follows and unfollows in any given day (over last 30 days)
  • Number of favorites and retweets for each individual tweet
  • Categorized list of tweets that performed “best”
  • Categorized list of “good” tweets
  • Number of clicks on a link in a tweet
  • Description of how tweets performed in comparison to normal reach (ex: 3x normal reach, 15x normal reach)

If you notice a large amount of unfollows for one particular day, it could be because the conversation topic did not resonate well with your audience or there were too many tweets sent that day. By using the graph, you can find the specific date and go back to your previous tweets to see what you were talking about. This tool allows you to see what tweets aren’t working and what topics your followers don’t want to hear about. Gather similar information from your mentions and follows on specific days.

The number of clicks per link gives you the ability to see how many people are visiting your site and what topics stand out to your followers. The “best” and “good” lists, along with the descriptions of how tweets perform in comparison to normal reach help show twitter profiles what types of posts they should repeat and how many people they are reaching.

All of the features offered under the “Timeline Activity” option allow businesses to gather demographic information about their followers, their interests, what people enjoy reading and talking about and the number of people they are reaching. After learning this information, businesses can determine what type of tweets to send and not send in order to reach their target audience in the best possible manner.

Followers Option Features

  • Top interests among followers
  • Unique interests among followers
  • Top cities among followers
  • Who your followers follow
  • Gender
  • Number of followers over a given time period

Learning the top cities among your followers is a great way to perform location-based marketing and promote events or news in specific areas. Having access to the gender of your followers allows you to understand your demographic and create tweets based upon interests of specific genders.

The list about who “your followers also follow” is a unique tool with many benefits. You can utilize this tool to find who else your audience is interested in and new industry profiles worth following. Checking out this groups’ tweets can give you new ideas for social media campaigns and what tweets might be working for them, and utilized in strategic partnerships in social media campaigns.

Having access to a list of your followers’ interests is also a great list of possible hashtags your followers would enjoy. These interests also provide options for topics to tweet about. By tweeting things based on your follower’s interest, you are bound to gain more followers, produce tweets with higher performance and increase interaction with your followers.

These added analytics allow businesses to enhance their social media in proficient and effective ways. Businesses can learn how their current Twitter efforts are working and use those results to make meaningful changes in order to position messaging around their target audience. The list of features teaches users many things and is something businesses should utilize as soon as available for their account.

For more information on the newest social media trend and how to integrate it into your marketing strategy, send us an email to our Multimedia Manager, David Wells, at david@abrightideaonline.com.

Sample Twitter Analytics Page
Sample Twitter Analytics Page
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Super Bowl Commercials

This year’s Super Bowl commercials may have covered a variety of themes from sexy models to cute kids, wacky animals to celebrity cameos, but there’s one thing they all had in common – user generated content and a call-to-action for the audience via social media.

Even before the big game, advertisers were using social media to reveal sneak peeks of their upcoming ads to capitalize on the excitement and build brand buzz through custom hashtags, Facebook pages and websites. Some hashtags trending prior to and during Sunday’s game included:

Audi: #BraveryWins

VW: #GetHappy

Pepsi: #PepsiHalftime

Toyota: #WishGranted

Coke: #CokeShowgirls #CokeBadlanders #CokeCowboys #CokeChase

Doriots: #CrashTheSuperBowl

Samsung: #TheNextBigThing

Mio: #ChangeStuff

Axe: #InSpace

Budweiser: #Clydesdales

Budlight: #HereWeGo

GoDaddy: #YourBigIdea

Pistachios: #CrackinStyle

Speed Stick: #HandleIt

Tide: #MiracleStain

 

When it came time for the big reveal there were a few commercials that really stole the show by utilizing social and interactive media well, generating a greater connection among the audience and brand.

Oreo
Which is the best part – the cream or the cookie? Oreo’s hilarious whisper commercial called on viewers to ‘choose your side’ through Instagram. The Oreo Instagram account shows images of just about anything made out of either the cream filling or the cookie, inviting viewers to add their own image with the tag #cookiethis or #creamethis. Oreo may recreate the item using your favorite part of the Oreo.

Oreo

Taco Bell
What do retirement age seniors like to do after a night of partying? Go to Taco Bell of course! The surprise storyline in this commercial, all set to the Spanish version of Fun’s, ‘We Are Young,’ works well with Taco Bell’s current “Live Más” campaign. The fast food restaurant invites the audience to go to their Facebook page for coupons, photos and more.

 

Coca-Cola
Coke had previewed their commercial featuring the showgirls, badlanders and cowboys racing to the coveted beverage well before the big game. The beverage company encouraged viewers to go online to vote for the ending of the commercial to air during the Super Bowl. At their custom website, viewers voted for their favorite group, while at the same time sabotaging the other two groups by sharing their selection on Facebook or Twitter. In the end the #CokeShowgirls came out on top and had the privilege to ‘open happiness.’

 

Pepsi
As sponsor of the halftime show, Pepsi called on viewers to submit photos for a chance to be a part of the performance intro. The user-generated content introduced Beyonce while associating the brand with a direct connection to their audience.

 

Axe Apollo Space Academy
The lifeguard may have saved the distressed woman from a shark attack, but nothing beats an astronaut. The Axe Apollo commercial included the element of surprise, while also announcing a special contest where viewers can actually win a trip to space. The new Axe Apollo has teamed with SpaceExc to send a few select winners to fly into orbit. With a custom website and hashtag #InSpace, Axe Apollo certainly caught the audience’s attention with a creative commercial and turned it into social media engagement.

 

Budweiser
The Budweiser Clydesdale commercials are classic, and this year the beverage allowed you to tweet @Budweiser with the hashtag #Clydesdales to help name the baby Clydesdale seen in the commercial. The commercial certainly tugs at the heartstrings, showing the man’s horse running to see him at the very end – what love! Who wouldn’t want to jump on Twitter to name that beautiful horse?

Budweiser

Doritos
Doritos, which has claimed a #1 spot in recent online commercial rankings, deployed its “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign again, gathering user-generated commercials and inviting the audience to vote on their favorite commercials to air during the big game. The “Goat for Sale” was our favorite!

 

Lincoln
The Lincoln “Road Trip” commercial encouraged viewers to ‘steer the script’ and see what the ending brings. They also asked viewers to tweet about their most memorable road trips – although big miss for Lincoln – no Twitter handle or hashtag was included in the commercial. How do we know how to categorize our tweet?

 

Mercedes-Benz
In the Mercedes Benz spot, Kate Upton invites you to go to MercedesBenzUSA on Facebook to see the all-new seductive CLA Benz coming in September. The commercial is a pure glitz and glam display with celebrities like Kate Upton and Usher, but captures the audience with an affordable price point.

 

Samsung
The comical interaction between Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen was entertaining, as was the direct approach to call out other advertisers gimmicks. The commercial showcased smartphone and tablet devices, while utilizing #TheNextBigThing and social tools through the devices.

 

It couldn’t be expected, but advertisers also took advantage of the unique opportunity the game’s third-quarter blackout provided, jumping quickly on social media with real-time Twitter campaigns. Oreo, Tide, Bud Light, Audi, VW and Speed Stick—were some of our favorites.

  • Oreo – “You can still dunk in the dark”
  • Tide – “We can’t get your blackout. But we can get your stains out”
  • Audi – Told its followers they were sending some of their LED headlights to the Superdome (which is sponsored by competitor Mercedes-Benz)

 

Notable Mentions
While the below commercials didn’t necessarily include social media, they were still some of the most talked about in social media.

  • Jeep: A tug at the heartstrings, welcoming home troops – “Whole Again”
  • Ram: Guts. Glory. Ram. – “God made a farmer”
  • E*TRADE: Smart talking baby tells you to – “Save It”
  • Tide: A 49ers fans glory squashed at the hands of a Ravens fan (much like the big game!) “Miracle Stain”
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As social media continues to grow, we find ourselves needing even more time in the day to keep up! That’s why the Quick Fix for this edition focuses on managing the demands of social media to ensure you are hitting all of your audiences while being efficient and effective. As social media strategists, here are our top tips for taming your time on social media so you can focus your attention on other things!

  • Link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so when you update one it automatically posts to the other. This avoids the need to make posts to two separate accounts.
  • Set up HootSuite or TweetDeck to manage all of your accounts in one place, rather than signing in and out of each platform as you go.
  • Schedule your Facebook and/or Twitter posts through sites like HootSuite or TweetDeck, to post at specific times throughout the day. You can pick whatever day and time you would like! This allows you to ensure your accounts are kept up-to-date even when you might not have time throughout the day to get to them.

A. Bright Idea Twitter Graphic

And be sure to check out the pages of some of our client’s who are implementing these tips, including:

 

 

 

A. Bright Idea Twitter Strategy

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Just in time for the presidential election, Twitter has recently launched a new service called Twitter Political Index or Twindex. Unlike information provided by traditional polling companies, Twindex harnesses the power of Twitter’s massive user date to monitor and report on users’ moods to provide real-time presidential candidate trends. Using an established baseline, Twitter’s data partner Topsy, analyzes tweets from users on our presidential candidates, monitors sentiment, compares the two candidates and assigns a point value to each.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, Twitter user data does actually reflect the public/voter trends –  proven during this past year’s primaries. Twitter saw trends in user activity supporting Mitt Romney, while Rick Santorum’s declined – and look who’s representing the GOP now.

So what does this mean? Are we headed into an age where technology will impede further into the traditional election process? Will electoral votes need to be gathered if we can process data aggregately? That’s probably unlikely, but technology really is proving to show a new era of data collection and endless uses for it. With more and more users of social media expressing opinions and providing feedback, the ability for organizations – political, commercial, nonprofit, etc. – to use this data and learn from it, such as adjusting key messages, branding and public perception, is amazing.

Nonetheless, whether you’re blue or red, donkey or elephant, this year’s election will prove to be an exciting one and you have an even greater ability to be part of the process!

Check it out! CNN.com: How do you feel about Romney and Obama? Ask the ‘Twindex’ http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/02/tech/social-media/twitter-new-political-index/index.html?hpt=te_r1

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Arguably the most popular brand in America, McDonald’s came under scrutiny as of late with a Twitter campaign turned negative. As USA Today reported , during a social media effort to encourage Tweeters to share their positive experiences from McDonald’s, the megabrand developed the hashtag #McDStories. Although intended for positive, the #McDStories hashtag quickly turned to a tell-all of the awful and even disgusting experiences customers had at a McDonald’s location. Obviously not the point McDonald’s was driving toward, they quickly pulled the hashtag campaign and began a bit of damage control.

Social media thrives as an open forum; an important medium for engaging customers and audiences.  While critics or negativity might appear, a strong strategy will prepare a brand for handling the adversity and building yet more trust with loyal customers.

 

Develop a strategy

A strategy may be designed to engage customers in sharing personal anecdotes in order to define how engrained the brand has become for those customers. The forum still exists for those who are not brand loyalists. With the proper planning, negative responses could be met with a customer service approach to address the grievance offline and in a one-on-one exchange. Potential questions to consider:

  • What key messaging will you use?
  • How will you respond to negative responses?
  • How will you tout the positive?
  • How will you monitor you followers, content, responses, etc.?

 

Developing a plan to address these questions will help you in implementing a strategic social media plan, aimed at promoting your business and services in a positive light, controlling the chatter about your business from behind the scenes and never being caught off guard.

There’s no doubt McDonald’s had a strategy in place when the #McDStories campaign launched, and by monitoring responses, they were prepared to end the banter and it remained a mere percentage of the overall social media discussion about the organization.

 

Use specific criteria

In creating a social media campaign or promotion, be very specific with your audience about what you want or expect from their responses, eliminating room for interpretation. For example, McDonalds could have garnered more positive responses by simply specifying their hashtag with something like #McDfaves or #McDsBest. This clearly tells the audience to respond with positive experiences and removes the openness to simply share a story – positive or negative.

 

Turn the negative to positive

With social media, you can’t ignore the fact that there will be negative mentions about your business. The open platform is a perk for users and they often take full advantage. Be prepared to take the negative and turn it to a positive by addressing from a customer service perspective. For example, in McDonalds situation, they could respond to the negative #McDStories Tweeters and offer to make their negative experience into a positive with a discount or free offer. This makes the end user feel heard and important. They’ll appreciate the attention and remember that positive act over the negative they first experienced.

 

USA Today article: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/story/2012-01-28/cnbc-mcdonalds-twitter-backfire/52824472/1

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Last month, the social networking site Twitter celebrated its 5th year of public use. Twitter reached popularity as it helped track wildfire updates in California, free an American student from an Egyptian jail, find gas during a shortage in Atlanta, track Mumbai terrorist attacks, and even break the news of the US Airways plane crash on the Hudson.

David Wells, Jr. Marketing Specialist/ Photographer

If you don’t know what people are talking about when they use words like tweeting, following, hashtag (#), mentions (@) or trending in the same sentence, you may not know exactly what Twitter is. Twitter is a social networking site that allows users to send short status updates to their friends – called followers. Users can also choose to follow other people—consisting of their friends, celebrities, companies and brands they like, TV shows and more. The status updates are generally 140 characters or less in length, but many tweets provide links to longer posts, websites, videos or other related content.

Recently Twitter surpassed 200 million users. The Women’s World Cup soccer match featuring the United States against Japan broke the ‘Tweets per second’ (TPS) record; the total number of tweets sent out across the entire platform. A record of 7,196 tweets per second were sent out at the end of the exciting and nail-biting match. In comparison, at the end of the 2011 Superbowl, a mere 4,064 TPS were sent.

Twitter grew rapidly in the past five years. In 2007, 400,000 tweets were posted per quarter, growing to 100 million tweets per quarter in 2008, and in February 2010, over 50 million tweets were being sent per day. Today, twitter users send over 200 million tweets each day.

Who uses Twitter?

Since the end of 2010, total Twitter users nearly doubled. According to an infographic created by Digital Surgeons, 55% of Twitter users are female with 45% male. The 26 to 44 age group makes up 57% of users. Of those who follow a brand, 67 purchase that specific brand—showing action. Some of our favorite top Twitter-using brands include Chevrolet, Southwest, Old Spice, Carnival, Home Depot and Starbucks. These top-name brands have great twitter strategies that engage their audience including customer service responses, tips, deals and insights to their brand.

Social media is a multiplatform tool to engage an audience and could include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, Flickr, FourSquare and more, depending on the goals and objectives of the strategy. It is increasingly more important for brands and businesses to have a clear and consistent message for their target audience across all platforms. The good news is, tools and applications are making this easier by allowing integration of the same messages across multiple platforms. For example, TweetDeck is an application that allows you to post updates to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare all at the same time. This ensures consistent messaging across your platforms. Also, Facebook posts can automatically link to your twitter account allowing your followers to be directed to your other social media platforms. Social media icons and links are showing up in print ads, television ads and even radio.

Social media, even though it’s still a new medium, allows businesses and brands to reach a broader audience in new ways, and those who are implementing good strategies are really seeing the benefits pay off.