Ah, yes, Twitter. Another tool and another new language to learn. But once you get the hang of it you’ll be a master of Twitter in no time. So to make this as simple as possible, here’s a quick rundown of the basics.
The Twitter Homepage
When you log-in to your Twitter account your Twitter homepage displays. Here’s what you can expect:
?1. What’s happening?
In the box below is where you’ll type your tweet, or status update. As you type in the box, you’ll notice a counter on the top right of the box that starts to countdown from 140. This lets you know how close you are to reaching the character limit. You’ll be able to write past the 140 character limit but you won’t be able to post until you edit your tweet down to 140 characters or less.
2. Your latest tweet
Just below the ‘What’s happening?’ update box, you’ll see your latest tweet, or status update. Isn’t it cute!
This is the people you’re following. Click on the ‘following’ link and you’ll be brought to a page that shows a list of all the people you’re following. From this page, you’ll be able to click a person’s name to see their profile. And if they’re following you also, you’ll be able to send them a direct message. (More about a direct message on later in this post.)
These are the people following you. Click on the ‘followers’ link and a list of the people following you displays. On this page you’ll be able to follow your followers, if you choose, by clicking on the follow icon next to the person’s name. You can also block a person from following you and seeing your updates if it looks like a spam account or if it’s just someone you don’t want following you. If you’re already following a person on this list you’ll also be able to un-follow them from this screen.
This number indicates how many lists others have put you on. There are a number a number of advanced ways to use lists. For the basics check here: How to Use Twitter Lists.
6. Twitter Definition
In this box, Twitter shows the definition of something to do with Twitter-land you may find of interest.
The Twitter Stream and Sidebar?
1. Twitter Stream
When you post a tweet, it’s broadcast into your stream or timeline. It’s also visible in the streams of your followers. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean everyone following you will actually see it. The Twitter stream moves quickly, and depending on how many people your followers are following, your tweet may be pushed off the screen before they have a chance to see it. But if someone goes to your profile page they’ll be able to see your last 3,200 tweets (according to BackupMyTweets.com).
Note: Others who aren’t following you can read your tweets too, but they have to go looking for them as they are not broadcast directly into their stream.
The Twitter Stream is also where you’ll be able to read the tweets of the people you follow. The stream itself only lists 20 tweets. But you can load up more by clicking on the “more” button at the bottom of the page.
2. @[YourUserName] or Mentions
If you click on this link, you’ll be brought to a screen that shows just the tweets that mention your Twitter name. This tool helps you quickly reply to any tweets that need your direct attention. It also indicates someone has replied to your tweet or replied to you directly.
How to reply to someone directly
If you want to reply to a tweet, or direct a tweet to a specific person, you do so by clicking on the reply arrow next to the tweet. The arrow is visible on the right side when you hover your pointer on the tweet. Your message then begins with @[person’s name] and will show up in their mentions stream. It will also indicate that it’s in reply to a specific tweet. This information is located at the bottom of the tweet.
?Clicking the date and time at the bottom of the update brings you to the page for the individual tweet. You can also see what the tweet is in reply to by clicking the ‘in reply to’ link at the bottom of the page.
Note: These tweets are public and can be viewed by anyone. If you want to send a private message to someone who is following you, you can use the direct message function.
3. Direct Messages, DM
If you want to speak with someone privately, send a direct message or DM. You can only send direct messages to people who are following you. To send someone a DM go to the person’s profile page by clicking on their Twitter name. In the sidebar of their page you’ll see a link to message this person. If you do not see the message link on the person’s profile page, it means they are not following you and you cannot send a DM to them.
4. Twitter Search
If you want to find information about a topic, just type it into the search box. Twitter gives you results in real time using the search terms provided. You’ll also be able to save these searches for later reference. You can find out more about the power of Twitter searches in my Free Beginner’s Guide to Twitter.
5. Trending Topics
The trending topics list shows you what the majority of people are tweeting about at any given moment.
The Re-Tweet: Expanding Your Reach and Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
When someone posts a tweet of particular interest, people tend to re-tweet (RT) it. This means if you post a link or interesting tweet your message has the potential to reach a larger audience.
How do you re-tweet a message?
You do this by copying a tweet and pasting it in your tweet box at the top of the screen. You then give credit to the original tweeter in one of two ways. The first way is by typing the following at the beginning of the message: RT (space) @[person’s name] (message). Or you can write this at the end of a message: (via @[person’s name]). Consider this your re-tweet footnote.
Twitter’s re-tweet update
Twitter also allows you to RT a message to your followers simply by clicking a button on the bottom right of a tweet. But you’re unable to edit or add commentary to the tweet. Your followers see an exact duplicate of the message in their stream.
Manual Re-tweet Examples:??
?Note: It’s important to leave a space between the RT and the @ symbol. Essentially you’re writing code that the Twitter gods understand. Without the space the original tweeter’s name becomes un-clickable and the person won’t know you mentioned them. (See below.)
Re-tweeting allows you to share information your followers may find interesting. Re-tweeting also improves the chances of your tweets being RT’d. Some people even put ‘Please RT’ at the end of the tweet, but for every person who says you should do that, there’s another who says not to. So you can try it out and see what gets the best results for you.
The overall best method to get a re-tweet is great content. Also interact with people and RT other’s posts. Once you make these connections with people the likelihood of RT’s increases. In fact, I find after having a conversation with someone, there’s the offer of “Let me know if you need something RT’d.” So as they say, “Give to Get.”
Tip: If you keep your tweet to 120 characters or less, other people can easily RT your message without having to edit it for length.
Hash Tags (#): Uh, what?
The number sign put before a string of words is considered a hash tag event. What’s the purpose? This is where the real fun and possibilities of Twitter begins. It’s basically a way for everyone in the Twitterverse to follow and have a conversation about the same topic. Find out How to Choose a Hashtag for your event.
Here’s a simple example:
Now you speak Twitter!
So go practice your new language skills. Get in there and make some noise.
Was there anything I missed?
New to Twitter? Check out Dave’s Free Beginner’s Guide to Twitter.