Atwitter with twitter

Learning the ropes on social media can be difficult, but one expert came to Webster City to share his knowledge on the topic.

Rob Williams, business analyst at University of Northern Iowa and UNI team lead for IASourceLink, hosted a seminar on Wednesday to help about 35 business leaders and community members wrap their heads around “Making Cents of Twitter.”

The seminar kicked off the Webster City Chamber of Commerce’s “From How to Wow” series for this year. Twitter is a website where users can post “tweets,” which are small text-posts of no greater than 140 characters. While the website offers people a chance to share information and links on a personal basis, it also offers businesses a chance to reach out to customers.

Williams took time to discuss the terminology of Twitter. Among other things, he explained the difference between replies and mentions, the former which begins a conversation thread that is publicly viewable.

“Everything that you tweet is public. Everything that you put out there is going to be public,” Williams said. “People can go out, they look at your profile, and it becomes very hard to remove a tweet as some businesses have learned in very difficult ways after the fact so you have to be very careful with what you’re saying.”

Williams said he is currently working with a few businesses who are so afraid of saying or doing something wrong, that they don’t want to have an account on the social media website. However, Williams said that isn’t an excuse to be on twitter, which has over 300 million tweets posted every day. To combat that fear, Williams gave ideas about what businesses and organizations can post for content. He suggested they post things they would submit in a press release, commentary on the state of their industry, funny or nice things they’ve heard customers say, giving or asking for feedback and more.

He pointed to local businesses, including Webster City RV, that had a strong presence on Twitter. He showed a conversation where a person mentioned the business in a tweet, asking if they had a certain product. Webster City RV replied with a phone number so the person could contact them for more information.

The social media website allows for people to search for tweets posted near certain locations. Williams showed how people can search for tweets near them, which local businesses can use to connect to local residents, or vice versa. He also spoke about hashtags, which can be used to group tweets together. People can use hashtags to organize their tweets in a category.