When Twitter launched in 2006 it was a simple SMS service intended to let individuals communicate with a small group of people. Since then, Twitter has become the go-to medium for breaking news, customer service, and even updates from space. What was once a web-based text message has transformed into a full-blown social networking platform that’s used by more than 284 million people today.
With eight years under its belt, dozens of design upgrades and new features have been added. But while you may be comfortable using your standard Twitter toolset — Tweets, Retweets, Promoted Tweets, and so on — there are several lesser known features that you should be using, but probably aren’t.
If you’re performing a quick search for a word or hashtag, then Twitter’s standard search bar works great. But if you require more specific results you’ll want to use advanced search. Doing so enables you to narrow your search by letting you easily include and exclude key information.
Whether you’re trying to find people who are talking about a competitor or looking for your product, advanced search results are more relevant and useful. If you’re engaging in a more in-depth or long-term search project, then you might want to employ more powerful tool — such as Sprout Social.
Embedding tweets in blog posts or across your website is a great way to add variety to your content. But when a single tweet won’t do, try embedding a collection of tweets instead.
Embeddable timelines make it easy to syndicate any public Twitter timeline to your site with a line of code. And just like timelines on twitter.com, embeddable timelines are interactive and enable your visitors to reply, Retweet, and favorite tweets directly from your site.
Viewers can also expand tweets to see Cards inline, as well as the Retweet and favorite counts. Not only does this help to draw attention to your social presence without sending people to another website, it’s also a great way to display tweets around a specific campaign or event.
Currently you can choose from four types of timelines:
- User Timeline — display public tweets from any member on Twitter
- Favorites — show all tweets you (or a specific user) has marked as favorite
- List — shows tweets from public lists that you own and/or subscribe to
- Search — displays customized search results in real time (perfect for live events or branded hashtags)
If you spend a lot of time navigating twitter.com, then keyboard shortcuts are a must. It’s the easiest way to get things done faster, and you don’t even have to memorize them. Just type “?” anytime while on twitter.com and the keyboard shortcuts guide will pop up.
In March, Twitter introduced two new mobile features that make photos on Twitter more social: photo tagging and collages.
You probably don’t think about tagging photos outside of Facebook, but doing so on Twitter can make conversations around your images fun and engaging. Plus, as an added bonus, tagging doesn’t affect your character limit. You can tag up to 10 people in a photo and still have all 140 characters. This could be really useful at live events and conferences.
The latter feature enables you to share a series of up to four photos that automatically create a collage within a tweet. You may already be familiar with this thanks to Twitter’s Gallery Card. This is a neat way to add more variety and imagery to your tweets. Whether you attach one photo or four, you’ll only lose 23 characters. It’s also worth noting that both tagging and collages will display in embedded tweets.
Now that you know more about some of Twitter’s lesser known features, talk with your team to see how you can incorporate them into your outreach plan. Used strategically, not only will they complement more traditional Twitter offerings, but they can help you achieve your business goals on the platform.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.