How to Get Started (and Enjoy) Using Twitter

TwitterNote: Originally published on HubPages, July 2012.

What’s keeping you from using Twitter?

Twitter is easy to use. Basically you type in text and hit send. You can do more, but you can get started with the basics and even skip a lot of the extras and not miss them.

I’ve been using Twitter from the beginning. I like to try new things like Twitter and see how they work. I’m an explorer at heart.

I’m assuming you have already joined and created an account at Twitter. If not, go ahead and do so. You can sign up for an account, free, with your email address and have it link to your Facebook login as a back up login.

You’re going to need a user name on Twitter. Pick something you already use on social media accounts like Flickr, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Pick a descriptive user name but don’t let it get long winded. Keep it all one word, this just makes it easier for you to type. Once you get started with social media you will be typing your user name pretty often in order to pass it around and let people know who you are.

Compose New Tweet

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Go Ahead – Start Using your Twitter Account

Login to the Twitter site. Click in the box and type something. You don’t need to add anything fancy. You don’t need to add your user name (Twitter adds it automatically once you send the post). Stick to 140 characters, this includes spaces and punctuation as well as each letter or number you type. Twitter lets you know how close you are getting to the 140 limit.

Don’t worry about the limited characters. Type in one sentence, Most sentences will fit into the 140 character limit easily. Twitter is meant to be quick, lively posts so one sentence is all you usually need. If you do need more to make your point clear think of words you can take out, words you can shorten with characters like &, for instance. Pretty simple so far, right?

Now that you have typed in your sentence, send it out there. All you need to do is click “Tweet”. Your post will be sent out to everyone on your Twitter list.

Click Expand to Retweet, Delete, Reply or Favourite a Tweet

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So Now You’ve Posted But….

So you posted but noticed a typo/ typing error or spelling mistake. Just go to your tweet, click on “expand” and click on “delete” from the list of options. You just need to confirm that you want to delete that post and then it will be gone.

You can also retweet the post from someone else this way. Or reply to anyone who has sent you a tweet.

If you want to save or savour the tweet from a friend you can mark it as a favourite here. This will save the post on your Twitter account. The tweet is saved in a file on your Twitter account.

I have an extra option on my Twitter account. It shows up in the image I cut and pasted above. It’s called ClassicRT (Classic ReTweet). You can add this option to your web browser if you like. It’s an extra – but not essential.

ClassicRT for Google Chrome

ClassicRT Addon for Firefox

Find Replies to Your Tweets and People who have Mentioned You

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Venture Out a Bit…

Wander off the Home section. Click ‘Connect’ at the top left. Now you can see who has mentioned you. Who has retweeted your posts.

I like to use this side of Twitter to reply to anyone who sent me a note. It is much easier to find replies here. (Especially once your Twitter account gets busy).

Block or Report Twitter Spammers

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How to Report Spam Accounts on Twitter

On the Connect section you will eventually get Twitter spam. This is much like comment spam in a blog or on your posts on HubPages. You can (and should) block or report Twitter spam. Blocking the spamming accounts will keep them from posting to you again. So this is enough if you aren’t sure they are spamming. Otherwise, report the account to Twitter staff. Let them deal with it.

Click on the name/ user name on the spam account. This brings up a second window which lets you choose the options to block or report the account. Just click and be done with it.

If this were a friend you could send them a tweet this way as well or go to their Twitter profile. You can also choose to follow or unfollow the user account.

Never send a spam Twitter account a message. NEVER. You may think you are teaching them a lesson, giving them a piece of your mind, or giving them a chance to change their ways. But, all you are actually doing is confirming that you are an active Twitter user. They will put your account on a list which they sell to people looking for active Twitter accounts to send spam to. They will also dig for more information from your Twitter account, like your web address, blog or email address. So, NEVER reply to a spam account on email, your blog, Twitter or anywhere else online. Don’t do them any favours.

View your Profile, Change your Settings or Get Help

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How to Change your Settings and your Profile on Twitter

Click the icon/ image of the person on the top right of the screen. This gives you options which can lead you to Twitter settings and let you edit your Twitter profile.

You can leave the settings as they are until you have an idea of how and why you want to change any of them. The basic settings will be fine for almost every beginner on Twitter. I’ve left mine pretty untouched.

I do like to play with the profile settings. I add my own image as face to the Twitter account. I created a background which has my links and whatever else I care to add. (You do need software for this, some kind of image software like Gimp). You can also write a blurb for your profile and add links.

Fun with #Hashtags

The last thing you need to know are hashtags. You may have heard about them already.

Hashtags are just a quick referral tag. Anything at all can be typed as a hashtag. You just add the # in front of it and keep it all one word.

Add a fun hashtag to your Twitter post to illustrate your point, catch someone’s attention or see if you can turn a clever phrase viral. (Viral being something that catches on in social media and spreads around in a huge way). Seldom will anything grow to viral proportions but it’s kind of fun to try now and then.

Don’t go crazy with a lot of hashtags. Consider how much you would want sent to your account before you go on a hashtag binge.

#ThisisaHashtagExample

A few last things to keep in mind…

This really is enough to get you started on Twitter. There’s a bit more about Twitter etiquette and just being a smart Twitter user (tweeter) in general.

Don’t follow a lot of people you don’t know or care to know. Having a lot of followers does not make you rich and famous. It does make you look like a possible Twitter spammer. Real Twitter users will have a balance of people they follow themselves and those who follow them back. You don’t want to have people following you from some Twitter follower service either. Those are all spammers who want to bloat their numbers so they can spam and look important. They may have you on account but they won’t be reading your posts, following your links or really care about anything you have to say.

Don’t post a lot of links or stale quotations. People want to know they are following a real person. They want to follow people who are using their Twitter account as READERS and WRITERS. They want people who will read their post, follow their links and give them feedback now and then. Isn’t that what you want from people on Twitter too? So make personal posts which don’t include links to be followed and do include some personal chatter. Nothing too dull. Come up with something interesting, something surprising that happened to you, something funny you noticed today… and so on.

Ask questions, send a note to someone using their Twitter name (@thatgrrl is my Twitter user name for instance) try to get a two-way flow of conversation. Don’t be afraid to jump into a conversation if you have something useful to add. Watch Twitter hashtags to find Twitter groups who have scheduled online meetings to talk on Twitter.

If you would like someone to follow you back let them know. Busy Twitter accounts have a hard time keeping up with new followers. Many of them are not sincerely following them but just want to get followed back and will likely remove them from their own list once they get followed back. Lost you there? Don’t worry about it. Just know that people you would like to notice and follow you back on Twitter will respond if you send them a post on Twitter. Let them know you followed them and tell them WHY you chose to follow them. Do they share your interests, do they write on the same site you do, etc.?

Don’t ignore posts on Twitter from other people. Follow an interesting link, leave comments when the links go to blog posts and let people know you followed a link posted to Twitter. Give people feedback on Twitter when they make a witty comment, shared an interesting link, or have a typo in their post. People almost always like a chance to fix a mistake if someone notices and lets them know about it. Not so different from the spinach in your teeth thing. (A friend will always let you know about the spinach stuck in your teeth).

Use your Twitter profile – write something about yourself. Tell people who you are, what you are interested in and what you are doing. Include at least one link they can click on to find you outside of Twitter. If someone thinks about following you, that profile will be a big deciding factor.

Other Places to Find Twitter Help

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