Understanding Twitter Watch the video (3:42). Most people know that Twitter is a micro-blogging network of real-time posts that are limited to 140 characters or less, but few people understand how they might benefit from Twitter. The truth is that Twitter is used by many people for many different things. So what is Twitter, and why should you care? Sign Up. Go to www.twitter.com to sign up. Enter the appropriate information (full name, email and password) on the right-hand side before clicking “Sign up for Twitter.” The website will then ask you to verify the information, choose a username and agree to the Twitter Terms of Service before proceeding. There will also be a checkbox to keep you signed in on whatever computer you’re using as well as a checkbox for tailoring your tweets based on the websites you visit. Check accordingly! Tweet. If you want to let your followers know what you are doing, type it into the ‘What’s happening?’ text box and then click on the ‘Tweet’ button. Note that tweets are limited to 140 characters or less; otherwise, the “Tweet” button will go into a minus.
- As you type, a countdown is offered to help you keep track of the character count of your tweets. The allowed characters are in gray, then the last 10 go red, and then a red minus symbol appears when you are past the zero (0) indicator.
What is a Tweet?
Where do Tweets live?
When you follow people, their Tweets instantly show up in your timeline. Similarly, your Tweets show up in your followers’ timelines. To see interesting Tweets, follow interesting people: friends, celebrities, news sources, or anyone who’s Tweets you enjoy
- A Tweet is an expression of a moment or idea. It can contain text, photos, and videos. Millions of Tweets are shared in real time, every day.
Learn the lingo
Comment on a Tweet and join the conversation.
Share a Tweet with your followers. You can even add your own thoughts before you share it. Retweet or “RT” – taking a tweet from one user and posting it yourself, automatically crediting the source, so that all of your followers can see the tweet. The original retweeting style would take a tweet and re-post it via your own account in the following format: ‘RT @(username of person who originally tweeted the tweet you’re retweeting): (contents of tweet)’. The current system does away with this format, and instead directly re-posts the tweet, crediting the origin underneath. For example, ‘retweeted from @username’.
Favorite a Tweet to let the author know you like it.
Hashtags assign a topic to a Tweet. So, for example, Tweets that contain #DOSPPriests are about just that. Click on a hashtag to see Tweets related to a topic
See when someone retweets or favorites one of your Tweets, replies to you, or mentions you.
Have private conversations with your followers.
Access your profile, lists, followers, and the people you follow.
Quickly follow people by adding their usernames. Perfect for when you meet someone and you’re exchanging info.
TweetUps – Using Twitter to meet with other Twitter folks. Trending Topics (TTs) – “Trending Topics” lists a range of subjects which many users across Twitter are talking about simultaneously. When Twitter first got started, “Trending Topics” were those which were most popular during the span of the entire previous week. But new, more advanced algorithms have now made it easier to detect recent trends, and cite the very latest most-talked-about subjects. These days, the “Trending Topics” list contains things that thousands of people across the whole of Twitter are discussing at any one time. When you click on a Trending Topic in the list, it will bring up a range of tweets, mentioning each matter of interest, and for each Trending Topic there will be up to three ‘Top Tweets’ highlighted–Those are the tweets in each topic which have been retweeted more than 150 times. You can view a list of trends in your area in the right-hand column of the homepage. Lists – Users can organize the people they follow into lists of businesses or personalities which are related in some way. For example, a user could list all of the NPOs and charities they follow into a single list, for easy reference. Promoted Tweets – A single trending topic which a company or organization can pay to ‘trend’, as to gain attention and traffic from Twitter users worldwide.
Prefacing a word with a ‘#’ will create a hashtag. A hashtag makes a certain word easily searchable. Some Trending topics will include hashtags, thus making it easier for users to tap into a Twitter-wide conversation regarding a single matter of interest. A prime example of the usage of hashtags can be seen with Major League Baseball, which uses team-name hashtags (#Mets, for example) to pull together lists of in-game tweets, which they display on their website.
Your Twitter can be as intimate or as big as you choose. If your goal is to gather lots of followers, though, be sure to keep your posts interesting and relevant. You shouldn’t underestimate the power of following others, either—often times if you follow someone they’ll follow you back. Finally, give your favorite followers shout outs occasionally. This could be through direct tweets, blogs, or a simple #FF (#FollowFriday) mechanism. This is where you tweet a short list of your key followers who you think would be good for others to follow and include the hashtag #FF, they are generally sent out at the end of the week hence the name. This will often be reciprocated, meaning your name gets circulated. However, #FollowFridays are going out of fashion and many commentators question their worth due to their spam-like nature. A simple RT (re-tweet) can be a very effective way of attracting followers. Re-tweets are a real time affirmation of someone else’s statement and is often rewarded with a follow.
Check the replies from your followers that are directed at you.
Click ‘@Mentions’ to see if there are any replies to any of your ‘tweets’. When tweeting, using ‘@’ followed by a username (with no spaces) in your tweet will send a mention to the user you choose. For example, ‘@username’ will send a mention to ‘username’, and the entire tweet will show up in his ‘@mentions’ section.
Decide your own style and times for tweeting.
Twitter, like many social media applications, can become addicting and time-sucking. Make a decision early on about how much time you will devote to it and about how big your “tribe” of followers will be. Avoid worrying about getting heaps of followers; that’s competitive rather than relating and it will end up wearing you out. Instead, focus on quality connections and information-sharing and don’t get too upset when someone unfollows you; it happens and you can’t change it. If you feel Twitter is overwhelming at any time, simply take a break from it and come back later, refreshed. Anthropological and sociological studies have claimed time and again that we can only cope with being part of a tribe of 150 to 200 people. Anything more than that and we get confused and lose the intimacy of connection. Keep that in mind when aiming for too many followers!