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Rise. Tweet. ReTweet. Repeat.

Twitter is a social media site that allows organizations to send tweets or messages up to 140 characters long to people who subscribe to them, also known as followers. In the social media world, Twitter is a form of microblogging due to the short, disconnected messages it distributes. Other microblogging tools include Tumblr, FriendFeed and Plurk. Tweets link to a variety of content including, the company's website, blog posts, pictures or videos. Adding media to a tweet greatly extends the reach of the message, far beyond 140 characters. Individuals and organizations follow a company's Twitter account, and in turn the company can choose to follow those individuals or organizations back. This allows your organization to read, reply to, and easily share tweets with followers, generally known as retweeting. Twitter provides businesses with an opportunity to share their story with the Twitter community. First, businesses should ensure their twitter page has the same look and feel as their website and other marketing materials. Choose an account name (called a Twitter handle) and images consistent with your existing online presence and brand. Choosing a handle is a critical step in the process. This name appears next to all of your tweets, and it is how your organization is identified on Twitter.

As a company, you should constantly look for new individuals and organizations to follow on Twitter. This will help expand your online conversations. Another way to expand your Twitter audience beyond your network is by using hashtags. Hashtags appear in tweets to identify a common topic or theme. They use the pound (or hash) sign followed by a unique identifier. When a unique hashtag is created for your business and implemented in tweets, followers can easily find your company and the conversations around it. Hashtags are also a great way to use Twitter for customer service and support.

Lastly, just start tweeting! You'll soon discover that Twitter is fast-paced and tweets are distributed frequently. However, give yourself a little time to get your feet wet. Listen to others. Jump in when you feel comfortable. The more you tweet, the easier it will become!

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