A Training Companion by the SecDev Foundation

A Training Companion by the SecDev Foundation







Want to gain traction quickly on Twitter? Engage an influencer.


Using tools such as We Follow, Just Tweet It, and Advanced Twitter Search, find key influencers who would be among your target audience, or might help spread your information to your target audience


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3. Review the article posted here:



Draft 3 different tweets aimed at encouraging engagement on this article:

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According to Searchmetrics, The Washington Post was the most popular U.S. news organisation on Twitter in 2013. Why do you think that is?


Visit the Post’s website and Twitter profile to assess.


HINT: Try finding the most shared news stories of 2013 to view what spread.


Download the Exercises



  1. @username: Your @username or handle is your unique identifier on Twitter. Keep it short, 15 characters or less, and make it memorable so that it easily sticks in people’s minds.

  2. Profile Photo: An image is worth 1000 words – so select your profile photo carefully. Choose something that represents you (or your news organisation) well. Use colour, personality or body movements to draw attention to your photo or your content. This image isn’t just on your profile page – it appears as the icon on every tweet you post.  Recommended image size: 400 x 400 pixels

  3. Bio: In just 160 characters or less you must inform and entice prospective followers such that they engage with you.  Be clear and concise, sharing what sort of things followers can expect to see in your Twitter feed.  If you have a digital beat, be sure to include those keywords here. Don’t be afraid to show some personality – Twitter is all about engaging with people, not faceless corporations.

  4. A Website: Ideally for news organisations, the URL space is the perfect way to showcase individual journalists working with you. A trackable link leading back to your website allows for considerably more space for sharing than does the restrictive 160 character bio. Such links should lead to highly calibrated landing pages, aimed at converting visitors into subscribers or followers.

  5. A Header Image: The header image is ideal for expressing individual creativity and setting your Twitter profile apart. As journalists, sharing images related to your stories is a fun way to showcase past work. Alternatively, big images of you working or delivering a story can have considerable impact, too.  Whatever you choose, it should highlight what sort of content you will be sharing on Twitter. Recommended image size: 1500 x 500 pixels

  6. A Pinned Tweet: Twitter is all about discussion. Sometimes your latest back and forth with a follower isn’t the best of your most recent tweets. Pin your more insightful tweets to the top of your profile to ensure that whenever a new visitor checks you out, there is engaging content to entice a new follow. Click on the “more” option on the tweet you wish to pin and then select “Pin to your profile page.

  7. Use Images and Videos: Images attract the eye. The more you can incorporated images into your Twitter posts, the more your content will engage.




 Recommended Length


 Type of Content

71-100 characters


Tweets with fewer than 100 characters enjoy a 17% higher engagement rate.



40 characters

Posts with 40 characters or less receive 87% higher engagement rates than lengthier posts.


Facebook posts


60 characters

Aim to contain Google+ headlines in a single line for optimal exposure.




40-55 characters

Reading online is different from print. Viewers prefer shorter paragraphs. Use larger fonts and fewer characters in opening paragraphs to draw readers in quickly.




8 characters

Domains should be easy to remember, and even easier to type out. Avoid using hyphens and numbers.



6 characters

Hashtags are meant to assist in sorting information, not overload a post. Keep them simple. Avoid spaces, special characters or numbers at the beginning



28-39 characters


The average open rate on subscription emails is a lowly 4%. Emails with subject lines containing 28-39 characters do the best, at a meager 12.2%


Email Subject Lines


6 words

When articles are shared on social media, long titles are often chopped down to a shortened version with an ellipsis. Avoid the loss of impact and keep titles to 6 words or less. Keep in mind that only the first 3 and last 3 words are usually read.



25 words


The optimal LinkedIn post varies between 21-25 words.


LinkedIn Posts


1600 words


The majority of articles read take 6 minutes to peruse, or consist of approximately 1600 words in total.


Blog Posts/Articles


3 minutes

The top 50 YouTube videos average in length over around 2 minutes 54 seconds


YouTube Video

22 minutes

On average, most consumers listen to a podcast for 22 minutes – which also correlates to the length of time an adult can sustain attention and retention.





@ - The @ sign is used to call out usernames in Tweets: "Hello @twitter!" People will use your @username to mention you in Tweets, send you a message or link to your profile.


Alerts (n.) - Twitter Alerts enable public safety agencies to inform people during emergencies by highlighting critical time-sensitive content with notifications and a unique look.


Block - If you block a Twitter user, that account will be unable to follow you or add you to their Twitter lists, and you will not receive a notification if they mention you in a Tweet.


Bug - An internal error in our site code and functionality. We find and fix them all the time (nobody's perfect). If you see one, point it out to @Support by sending us a message.


Deactivation - If you deactivate your account, it goes into a queue for permanent deletion from Twitter in 30 days. You may reactivate your account within the 30 day grace period.


Direct Message - Use Direct Messages to have private conversations with people you follow who also follow you. Messages have a 140-character limit and can contain text, hashtags, links, photos and video.


Discover - This feature surfaces personalized content tailored to your interests.


Favorite (n.) - Favoriting a Tweet indicates that you liked a specific Tweet. You can find all of your favorite Tweets by clicking on the favorites link on your profile page.


Favorite (v.) - Tap the star icon to favorite a Tweet and the author will see that you liked it.


Follow (v.) - Subscribing to a Twitter account is called “following.” To start following, click the Follow button next to the user name or on their profile page to see their Tweets as soon as they post something new. Anyone on Twitter can follow or unfollow anyone else at any time, with the exception of blocked accounts. See "block."


Follow(s) (n.) - A follow is the result of someone following your Twitter account. You can see how many follows (or followers) you have from your Twitter profile.


Follow button - Click the Follow button to follow (or unfollow) anyone on Twitter at any time. When you follow someone, you will see their Tweets in your Home stream.


Follow count - This count reflects how many people you follow and how many follow you; these numbers are found on your Twitter profile.


Follower (n.) - A follower is another Twitter user who has followed you to receive your Tweets in their Home stream.


Geolocation, geotagging - The use of location data in Tweets (a geolocation or geotag) tells those who see your Tweet where you are in real time. You can access the option to "Tweet With Your Location" at the bottom of the "Compose Tweet" box.


Hacking - Gaining unauthorized access to an account via phishing, password guessing, or session stealing. Usually this is followed by unauthorized posts from the account. Hacked accounts are sometimes referred to as "compromised." Click here if you've been hacked. Read more about how to keep your account safe.


Hashflag - A hashflag is a specific series of letters immediately preceded by the # sign which generates an icon on Twitter such as a national flag or another small image.


Hashtag - A hashtag is any word or phrase immediately preceded by the # symbol. When you click on a hashtag, you'll see other Tweets containing the same keyword or topic.


Home - Home is your real-time stream of Tweets from those you follow.


Impersonation - Online impersonation (pretending to be someone you're not) that is intended to deceive is prohibited under the Twitter Rules. Parody accounts are allowed. See "parody."


List (n.) - From your own account, you can create a group list of other Twitter users by topic or interest (e.g., a list of friends, coworkers, celebrities, athletes). Twitter lists also contain a timeline of Tweets from the specific users that were added to the list, offering you a way to follow individual accounts as a group on Twitter.


Mention (v., n.) - Mentioning other users in your Tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username is called a “mention.” Also refers to Tweets in which your @username was included.


Notifications tab, notifications - The Notifications timeline displays your interactions with other Twitter users, like mentions, favorites, Retweets and who has recently followed you. If you request it, we send notifications to you via SMS or through the Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Android apps.


Parody - You can create parody accounts on Twitter to spoof or make fun of something in jest, as well as commentary and fan accounts. These accounts must disclose that they are parody, fan or commentary accounts in order to comply with our strict policy against impersonation. See "impersonation."


Phishing - Tricking a user to give up their username and password. This can happen by sending the user to fake sign-in page, a page promising to get you more followers, or just simply asking for the username and password via a DM or email.


Promoted Accounts - Promoted Accounts present suggested accounts you might want to follow as promoted by our advertisers. These appear in your Home timeline, and via Who to Follow, search results and elsewhere on the platform.


Promoted Trends - Promoted Trends display time-, context-, and event-sensitive trends promoted by our advertisers. These appear at the top of the Trending Topics list on Twitter and elsewhere on the platform, and are clearly marked as "Promoted."


Promoted Tweets - Promoted Tweets are Tweets that are paid for by our advertisers. These appear in your Home timeline, at the top of search results on Twitter and elsewhere on the platform, and are clearly marked as "Promoted."


Protected/private accounts - Twitter accounts are public by default. Choosing to protect your account means that your Tweets will only be seen by approved followers and will not appear in search.


Reply - A response to another user's Tweet that begins with the @username of the person you're replying to is known as a reply. Reply by clicking the "reply" button next to the Tweet you'd like to respond to.


Reactivation - You may reactivate a deactivated account within 30 days of the deactivation date. After 30 days, deactivated accounts are permanently deleted.


Retweet (n.), RT - A Tweet that you forward to your followers is known as a Retweet. Often used to pass along news or other valuable discoveries on Twitter, Retweets always retain original attribution.


Retweet (v.) - The act of sharing another user's Tweet to all of your followers by clicking on the Retweet button.


Short code - A five-digit phone number used to send and receive Tweets via text message. Find your short code.


Spam - Refers to a variety of prohibited behaviors that violate the Twitter Rules. Spam can be generally described as unsolicited, repeated actions that negatively impact other users.


Suspended - Suspended accounts have been prohibited from using Twitter, generally for breaking Twitter Terms of Service.


Text commands - When using Twitter via SMS, these commands allow you to access most Twitter features with simple text keywords. Learn the Twitter text commands.


Timeline  - A timeline is a real-time stream of Tweets. Your Home stream, for instance, is where you see all the Tweets shared by your friends and other people you follow.


Timestamp - The date and time a Tweet was posted to Twitter. A Tweet's timestamp can be found in grey text in the detail view of any Tweet.

Top Tweets - Tweets determined by a Twitter algorithm to be the most popular or resonant on Twitter at any given time. Read more about Top Tweets.


Trends - A Trend is a topic or hashtag determined algorithmically to be one of the most popular on Twitter at that moment. You can choose to tailor Trends based on your location and who you follow.


Tweet (n.) - A Tweet may contain photos, videos, links and up to 140 characters of text.


Tweet (v.) - The act of sending a Tweet. Tweets get shown in Twitter timelines or are embedded in websites and blogs.


Tweet button - Anyone can add a Tweet button to their website. Clicking this button lets Twitter users post a Tweet with a link to that site. Learn how to add the Tweet button to your website here.


Verification - A process whereby a Twitter account receives a blue check icon to indicate that the creator of these Tweets is a legitimate source. Verified users include public figures and those who may have experienced identity confusion on Twitter.


Who to Follow - Who to Follow is an automated list of recommended accounts we think you might find interesting, based on the types of accounts you already follow and who those people follow.




Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update 2013


Pew Research Center's Social Media Update 2014


Who Gives A Tweet? Evaluating Microblog Content Value


A Longitudinal Study of Follow Predictors on Twitter


The Science of Retweets by Dan Zaerrella


Brogan, Chris. Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2010







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