What on earth is Twitter?
Twitter is a social networking website that allows users to exchange quick status updates, or “tweets”, of 140 characters or less. It is currently one of the top social networking sites with more than 170 million users.
So what do I need to get started?
All you need is access to a computer or a mobile phone. Of course you will need an internet connection if using a computer… Once you are on the Twitter homepage, simply create an account and you will be be able to send your first “tweet”!
How do I find and communicate with people that I know?
Once you have a Twitter account you can search for friends, import friends from other social networks, and if you still cannot find anyone you can invite friends via email. Once you have found someone, you can “follow” them to subscribe to their updates, which will then start appearing on your feed. This is as easy as clicking on their profile, then clicking on the “follow” button. Similarly, people can follow you to receive your tweets. People who follow you are called “Followers”, whilst you are “Following” those that you have subscribed to. See, it’s not too complicated!
Okay, but what is an @Reply?
Twitter uses a couple of formats that it is worth getting used to. One of these is the “@reply”. An @reply is simply a message sent from one person to another. It is a public message and is used to reply to an update on Twitter, which can be done so by using the prefix @username [the username of the person you are replying to]. You do not necessarily need to follow someone to reply to them. All @replies are stored in the sidebar tab. Remember, @replies are those that begin with the username prefix. Tweets that simply contain an @username elsewhere are called “mentions”, which are also collected in the sidebar tab.
Seems pretty complicated…
It seems so at first but you’ll pick it up quickly. Any more questions?
Can you send messages to friends, or is it all @replies etc?
You can send direct messages, these are private messages (unlike @replies) that are saved in your inbox. Only you and your receipient can view these messages. You can only send a direct message to someone who follows you, however.
Pretty straight-forward… What is a retweet?
A retweet, or an RT, is a re-posting of someone else’s tweet. This is a great example of how users are helping to create the Twitter experience, as the prefix RT is not an official Twitter feature. It helps to provide attribution to the original “tweeter” and shows that you are re-tweeting a post. To do this, simply add RT and the original poster’s username within the tweet: e.g. “RT @username……”
Got it. What about a #Hashtag then?
A hastag is a key word or subject preceded by the “#” symbol. It is used in a tweet and helps Twitter users to quickly and easily find content related to a specific subject. Using a Hashtag makes it easy for anyone looking for tweets based on a specific subject to find them through the search function. Users often pre-arrange “tweet chats” around a specific hashtag. Tweet chats can be conducted through the Twitter search feature or through external tools such as TweetChat, TweetGrid, or TweetDeck.
And can I post photos or videos to Twitter?
There is no official Twitter feature for this, but most people use third-party applications such as TwitPic to post pictures to twitter accounts. Other photo/video apps can be found on the Twitter Fan Wiki. This again is an example of Twitter users helping each other out, as Twitter does not have any official multi-media posting features as of yet.
I think I understand the basics now. Guess the only thing left to do is actually try it out on my own!
The best way to learn is to jump in and find out what works for you. Just remember, you’re never alone. Follow @twitter for helpful advice, check and subscribe to Support’s Known Issues page, and have a look at the Twitter Status Blog. You can also check out Twitter’s Help Centre, and external pages such as Twitter Fan Wiki, for example. Get Satisfaction is a great website – dubbed a “people powered customer service”, it is a place where users help each other figure out problems on Twitter. So there’s a lot of help out there if you need it!