So you signed up to Twitter. Welcome.
It is confusing, isn’t it?
The first impression is often that we are reading several half conversations, there are unfamiliar abbreviations, strange characters like #.
Let’s start with you. You have chosen a name, preferably a reasonably easy and short one – the shorter your name, the more space you leave anyone tweeting you.
Do you have any hobbies or interests? You can enter any search term in the search box to find others with the same interests. If you like the look of them – check out their previous tweets to give you an idea – then follow them.
You can then check out that person’s followers and who he follows. Some of them may follow you back, some may not. If they don’t follow you back, don’t take offense. Next time they post something interesting, reply to them by pressing the reply button.
The more you communicate with others, the more fun twitter becomes. Lurking on twitter is a bit boring. It is like being at a cool party and not speaking to anyone. Jump in, get involved and start chatting. You will be surprised how fast you pick up followers.
If someone on your “timeline” (your list of the tweets posted by those you are following) writes something funny, links to a good website, or if you agree with something they say, retweet it to your followers by pressing RT. This means that your followers can read who told the joke.
To reply to one person, press REPLY. To reply to several REPLY ALL. Remember that everyone can see your replies. If you want to send a private message you can DM – direct message – them, but only if you follow each other. The @ at the beginning of the name is not needed for DMs. Just write “D mmelindor …”.
You will see that some tweets have a # hashtag. This is a way of collating info about a certain topic. So that anyone looking to see what is being said about a particular story can search for that hashtag eg. #willsandkate #royalwedding #BBC #Mumsnet. If you watch a TV show and want to chat to others, even those not on your timeline, about it then add a # eg. #bgt for Britains Got Talent or #scd Strictly Come Dancing.
When you write a tweet, it has to be in 140 characters or less. If you are hoping to be RTed then try to shorten your tweet to approx. 120 characters so that your followers have space to add RT and your name. This is where a short name is advantageous.
I would always advise new Twitter posters to download Tweetdeck. It is a tool that allows you to sort your timeline into columns. When you follow a couple hundred people, then it is hard to keep track of conversations. I have a column with bloggers and MNetters, one with journalists and political bloggers, one that shows replies to me, one with DMs. You can have a permanent search term in a column for any area of interest that your have. So if you like knitting, then put “knitting” in a search box and you will be able to see every post worldwide about knitting.
On Friday you might be surprised to see a lot of posts beginning with #ff, with a list of poster names. This is “Follow Friday” and means that you pass on people you follow to your followers. If you find someone worth following, let your followers know.
Dos and Don’ts
DON’T just cut and paste jokes or links. This is frowned upon and will get you unfollowed. RT so the original poster gets the credit.
DON’T give up after a day or two. Stick with it. It gets less confusing with time.
DO get involved.
DO remember basic Internet safety rules – don’t give away too much personal information, if you feel uneasy about a conversation then end it. If someone bothers or spams you, block and report them.
DO be polite. If someone RTs your tweet, say a quick thank you. Many thank for #ffs as well.
Have fun. And if you have any questions just ask. You may well be surprised at how many answers you receive.
If you liked this post, you may also like my book on learning twitter in ten minutes, available on Amazon or in your local bookstore.