Twitter 101: What is Twitter and How Do I Use It?

WHAT IS TWITTER?

It is like an instant messaging system of sorts, except you don’t have to be online all the time, or even or specifically interacting with anyone you are following to join in on conversations.

You just read a whole bunch of things people say and if you like something, you can @reply them, or favourite it, direct message them and so on.

If you use Facebook, it is a lot like those Status Updates you can Like, Star or Comment on.

DO I NEED TO USE TWITTER?

No. Don’t use anything you don’t find useful.

I should mention that a lot of contests and giveaways tend to ask you to follow them on Twitter so you can get their updates, or to tweet the entry to your followers.

I find Twitter pretty useful. I like sharing

HOW DO I USE TWITTER?

Once and for all, here’s a short primer on how to use Twitter.

I daresay I enjoy it more than Facebook (I’m rarely ever on Facebook),

HOW TO SIGN INTO TWITTER

Go to www.twitter.com and sign in. This is your twitter page or hub.

HOW TO ADD PEOPLE YOU WANT TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER

If you want to add people, go to their twitter page (e.g. http://www.twitter.com/brokeinthecity )

Now click “Follow”

When you do that, you will see their tweets show up on your twitter page

HOW TO REPLY TO PEOPLE YOU ARE FOLLOWING ON TWITTER

When you want to reply to a tweet, you can @reply them.

Let’s say you see a tweet from me that says: How is everyone doing?

You can reply by typing “@brokeinthecity I’m doing great” in a 140 CHAR or less in a message

Or click on the Reply link which will make my @brokeinthecity handle appear automatically.

HOW TO REPLY BACK TO SOMEONE WHO IS TALKING TO YOU

If you get an @ reply to your name, you can reply back clicking on the “Reply” link.

WHY SOME PEOPLE CANNOT BE @REPLIED TO

They might have made their Twitter accounts private, meaning not just anyone can follow them and see what they’re saying.

You will need to ask permission by requesting access to their twitter feed.

HOW TO DIRECT MESSAGE SOMEONE (PRIVATE)

You can also DM (Direct message) someone like a private tweet, but you two need to be following each other to do this.

To do that, type:

D brokeinthecity Hey this is a private message

No need for the @ in front in a direct message. Use with caution.

OTHER APPLICATIONS YOU CAN USE FOR TWITTER

You can download apps for this on your iphone, blackberry, and other places. Or just go to the twitter website.

Alternatively, you can download Tweetdeck for the MAC or PC, which is like a desktop application or software to handle all of your tweets, DMs and whatever else.

WHAT ARE TWITTER HASHTAGS?

Hashtags are keywords with a # in front.

E.g. if everyone is talking about money, they type: #money

And the hashtag will grab that tweet and collect them all into another column with tweets containing #money

Or if you talk about “Glee”, the show.

You type: #Glee, I love this show!

Anyone who wants to read tweets on glee, can go to that hashtag #glee and see the conversations there.

HOW DO I BLOCK PEOPLE FROM SPAMMING ME?

You can report/block spammers who solicit you or are x-rated in Tweetdeck (the application I use).

WHAT ARE TWITTER LISTS AND WHY ARE PEOPLE “LISTED”?

You can make lists of your favourite tweeters

HOW DO I GET PEOPLE TO FOLLOW ME?

Give them cupcakes and promise to be their BFFs.

No really, they just have to find you first. You should post your twitter username so people can follow you

You might also want to set up your twitter profile as well, by changing the background or customizing it to something different.

HOW DO I SEE WHO IS FOLLOWING WHO?

Followers = People who are following that Twitter account

Following = People that Twitter account is following

WHAT SHOULD I AVOID DOING ON TWITTER?

Being a dumbass. Just kidding. :)

You have to understand that these are very short messages, not meant to be books.

You might have to do any of the following:

  • Cut words down to a letter. You for instance, turns into “u
  • Understand that you cannot fit an email into 140 characters
  • Use emoticons liberally especially if you are joking, like :) or ;)

It is certainly personal preference, but I’d suggest:

  • Not tweeting about your bathroom activities or anything really inappropriate
  • Sharing interesting links or posts from people you follow or just in general
  • @replying to people who want to talk to you and interact
  • Thanking people who share your posts or links if you are a blogger, or who are just darn nice
  • Not spamming people with a ton of stuff all at once <– I’m guilty as charged!
  • Realizing that if you didn’t make your account private, anyone can see your tweets

Also, don’t feel bad if these people don’t follow you back. I follow about 500 people but I find it overwhelming.

I can’t keep up with everyone and I need to figure out a way to keep this to a minimum, because it’s getting cray-cray*.

I just feel bad when I can’t talk or follow everyone :(

*Cray-Cray = “Crazy”

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Tweeting = When people are “talking” using Twitter, like posting status updates

Trending = When what topics people are talking about, are making it into the big leagues in terms of traffic

Twitter Handle/Name = What your twitter name is. Mine is @brokeinthecity for instance.

CHAR = Short for “characters”, which means how many letters or digits (alphanumerics) are in something.

140 CHAR = This is the max of how long a tweet can be.

Hashtags = They are used to match topics to each other like “#money” or “#minimalism”

Hashtag “#FB” = This is not my name :P This is when people have Twitter applications that can post whatever tweet they have to their Facebook account automatically, instead of typing it twice. In Tweetdeck, this is not necessary, because you can add your Facebook profile, click the Facebook icon and have it automatically post to your Facebook page without losing 3 characters

@reply = To reply to someone on Twitter using the “@” tag

DM = To direct message, or private message someone using the “d” tag in front of their name

Twitter Feed = What you see as a list of constant updates from all the people you are following

RT = Means to “Retweet” or to share with people who are following you, what you find interesting in your Twitter feed

Short URL = This is where you can minimize (minify?) a very long URL into something short so it won’t take up tweet space (you only have 140 characters!). A popular engine for this is bit.ly. You can also set up an account with bit.ly and track how many people click on the link you’ve just shared.

Good luck and happy tweeting :)

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.