Twitter Basics

Here’s a great introduction to using Twitter.

I originally wrote “Twitter Traffic” 2 years ago.  At that time twitter was popular but certainly not mainstream.  Today teens have put twitter over the top and 200 million users are tweeting daily!

So what is twitter?  Lets find out.

If you’re online—and reading this!—you’ve probably heard of Twitter.  But just what is Twitter for? How does it work? And how do you get started using  it? Whether you want to start using Twitter yourself or just want to know what  it is, we’ll help untangle the mysteries of this social networking site.

Just what is Twitter?

On Twitter, you’ll find friends and family as well as celebrities, companies  and strangers who may share your interests. News networks (like @AP and @CNN)  will post breaking news announcements, companies may hold giveaways, celebrities  post announcements on what they’re working on and everyone has conversations.  Like any social network, what you get out of Twitter is based on who you follow  on the site, and you can follow anyone else using Twitter (so long as their  account isn’t private).

Think of Twitter as a big, open room—with all of Twitter’s 200 million active  users chatting away inside from all  over the world. You can roam around and listen to what everyone’s talking  about or just chat with a small group of your friends.

Twitter is considered a micro-blogging service, which means the posts made to  Twitter have to be an extremely brief, 140 characters or less. Unlike Facebook, which  has lots of options that allow you to keep your information private, Twitter is a predominately  public space. Though you can make your Twitter account private, meaning only  people you approve can see your messages, you only have two options—to be  completely public or completely private.

You may not think 140 characters is very much to get something across, but  these brief messages are perfect for sharing small updates, little bites of  everyday life. And while each message is short, you may find yourself replying  to other people—and them replying to you—which turns a single short message into  a longer conversation. Twitter also lets you easily share links, photos, and  videos, which you can post for your friends—or everyone— to see with or without  comment.

Twitter terminology

twitter-trends-200pxTwitter isn’t exactly a foreign language, but it may seem that way to  newcomers. Here’s some basic terminology you’ll need to know:

Username: Everyone on the service has a unique  username. In order to talk to someone on Twitter, you have to address them by  their username, preceded by an @ symbol. Ex. @Techlicious is our username.

Tweet: A public message posted on Twitter. Your message  can be just text or include links, videos, or photos. Ex. “She tweeted about  meeting her future mother-in-law today.”

Retweet: When you repost a message from someone else,  you’re retweeting it. Usually these messages are preceded by RT, though  sometimes you’ll see them preceded by MT, or “modified tweet.” A modified tweet  isn’t an exact duplicate of the original; it has been edited in some way,  usually for length so the retweeter can add their own commentary or a link.

Reply: If you want to reply to someone who has posted  an update on Twitter, just start your message with @username to direct it at  them. Remember, though: this isn’t a private conversation! People who follow you  and the person you’re talking to will see this message.

Direct Message: In addition to the public tweets, you  can also send private direct messages to anyone who follows you (though they  won’t be able to message you back unless you also follow them).

twitter-hashtag-search-300pxHashtag: Words after a # symbol are hashtags, which can  be used to track conversations or topics on Twitter. You can easily search for  hashtags to find information or see which hashtags are trending.

Follow: You follow people on Twitter to see their  updates (similar to friending someone on Facebook),  but in this case you don’t need their permission unless their Twitter account is  set to private. You may see the hashtag #FF for “Follow Friday” on tweets  suggesting who you should follow.

Block: If someone is bothering you on Twitter, you can  block them so they can no longer follow you or send you messages.

Trends: The most popularly used hashtags at the moment  are considered to be “trending” on Twitter.

Lists: Lists of Twitter users. You can create your own  lists or view lists created by others.

URL Shorteners: Because you only have 140 characters to  work with, when you send links (also known as URLs) on Twitter, the service will  automatically use a URL shortener to abbreviate the link. But be aware that this  can make it easier for scams and malware to hide: don’t click on links from  suspicious accounts and be sure to be wary of potential scammers. If you get a  message from a stranger with a link in it, you should be careful about clicking  on it—especially if there’s no other information or context included with it.  It’s probably some kind of scam! When in doubt, you can copy and paste the link  into a link decoder likeLongURL or URL  X-ray.

Vine: A mobile app from Twitter that allows the  creation of brief, 6-second video clips that you can share. Vine is currently  available only for iOS devices and free in iTunes.

Twitter #music: This part of Twitter aims to help  you discover new music by showing you which songs and  artists are trending on the site.

How to create an account and get started

Creating an account is simple: just go to Twitter’s sign up page and follow their  instructions. Twitter aims to keep things simple and account creation is simple  as well, with few hurdles and customization options to trip over and keep you  from using the service.

However, under your settings, there’s a few configuration options you are  worth considering before you start tweeting:

  • If you to make your account private, set it up now before you start using  the service. Remember that unless you set your account to be private, anyone can  see anything you post.
  • You may want to modify Twitter’s email notifications to keep the service  from spamming you with mail.
  • You can connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that your updates  easily go to both if you want them to.

Who should I follow?

As we’ve mentioned, you can find all sorts of people and organizations on  Twitter—and who you follow is going to make your experience with the service.  You can search for people you know by name or by username, take suggestions from  friends or strangers on the #FF hashtag or consider Twitter’s suggested people  to follow, which are listed on every page on the site. If you want more guidance  from Twitter, the  Discover tab along the top of the site will suggest both tweets that  might interest you, users you might like to follow, and help you find your  friends.

If you find that your Twitter feed is becoming hard to follow, you can  “Unfollow” those people who aren’t posting interesting information. Or separate  people into “Lists”, with the most important people in a separate list.

You can always get started by following us! Just look up @Techlicious on Twitter.

Taking Twitter on the go

Twitter’s website is easy to use if you’re at your desktop, but Twitter’s  super short messages make it a great network to take with you on the go. Keep up  with your friends or help them keep up with you, an easy 140 characters at a  time. Twitter has official apps for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows  Phone or you can access the site via the web browser on your smartphone.  If none of the official options suits your tastes, there are plenty of third  party Twitter apps that offer additional  features. Hootsuite and Tweetbotare  a couple that we recommend.

Watch out for scams


Like anywhere on the Internet, there are scammers on Twitter. Some may be  malicious, trying to get you to click a link installing malware or other  unpleasantness on your computer, but some may just have created a fake account  that looks to be a celebrity or organization for a laugh. If you’re following  celebrities, look for a mark that they’re “verified,” which means Twitter confirms that they’re  definitely who they say they are.

But even if a user is verified, their account could still be hacked and used  to post messages that aren’t from them—so whenever you’re on Twitter, be wary  and don’t believe everything you read. Many scammers will send you messages  encouraging you to click links (which have shortened URLs, so it’s not  immediately obvious where they’re going), so be wary of links from strangers and  be sure to never give out personal information or passwords.

And remember, when you post photos and videos, these will be public (unless  your account is private): so again, don’t post photos that give away more  information than you’re comfortable with a stranger having.

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful. If you know of any great Twitter  tips and tricks or have a question, let us know in the comments below.

This article was written by Elizabeth Harper /  Techlicious from:

About the Author James

James Maduk is the founder of as well as the author of the 62 Best Selling "Secrets My Mom Never Told Me About Internet Marketing" ebooks. James also runs a WordPress Campus with Courses, Workshops and Certification for WordPress Bloggers who want to Start, Build and Grow there WordPress Powered business online.

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