May 25, 2016

Twitter for #Rookies

For my friends and colleagues who have joined Twitter and have no idea how to use it or maybe you read Sam’s post about Twitter and you want to know more of the basics, this post is for you.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social networking site that allows you to post messages that are 140 characters or less.  You can post text or links.  Twitter’s character limit forces you to get directly to the point you are trying to make.  There’s no room for fluff.

What should I tweet?

Anything you want, as long as its 140 characters or less.  Not sure if you should tweet about what you had for dinner?  Ask yourself if you would want to read it if someone else posted it or how would you feel if you had to read every tweet you posted out loud.

What are the hashtags for?

Twitter hashtags, also known as tags, are used to indicate a keyword in a tweet.  Tags are easy to search and you can click on a tag to see other tweets with the same tag.  The best part about tags is there are no rules or predetermined list you have to use.  You can make up your own or use common tags.

Quick Tip:  Don’t put any special characters into your hashtag as that will break up your hashtag.  Text only please.

What is a mention?

A mention is when someone else has put your username into their tweet.  You can see your mentions in the @Mentions view and you can also setup notifications to alert you when someone has mentioned you in a tweet.

Can everyone see when I reply to someone’s tweet?

Yes, if your profile is public anyone who visits your page will see your reply.  You can also follow conversations other people are having if you are following both people.

What if I want to send a tweet that no one else can see?

Send a message (formerly called direct message or DM).  The Twitter Help section has a good description of what messages are and how to use them.

What is a retweet?

If you like a tweet or want to share it with others, you retweet it.  For Facebook users, a retweet is the equivalent of a Facebook like.

When retweeting, its important to remember some basic rules.

  1. Don’t plagarize.  Don’t take someone else’s tweet and try to pass it off on your own.
  2. Give credit where its due.  Always include the username of the person who posted the original tweet in your retweet.

Marian Schembari at has a great post called Please (for the love of GOD) stop using the retweet button!  Take the time to check it out.

Finally, be easy on the retweets.  If I look at your Twitter profile and all of your tweets are actually just retweets, I am probably not going to follow you as it appears you have nothing original to say.

What else should I know?

  • Set a profile picture when you create the account.  It helps to have a face or image other than the default to put with your username.
  • Keep your username short, simple, and preferably relative to your actual name or business.
  • If you aren’t comfortable putting your tweets out there for the world to see, make your account private.  Others will request to have access to your page and you can choose who you let in.  I would also suggest making your account private if you are currently looking for a job or one day, will need to look for a job.  You would hate to not get a job because of that one stupid tweet.
  • Its okay to lurk.  Most people are consumers only, meaning they only read tweets and rarely, if ever, contribute with a tweet of their own.

Some other Twitter resources for you to check out:

This is not a comprehensive description of everything you can do on Twitter, but it will definitely help you get started.

Follow Beyond The Defaults at @BeyondDefaults on Twitter today!

About the Author

Abby is a wife, mother, and IT professional. She spends her days working as a certified IBM Notes developer and her nights and weekends trying out new software and applications. Abby is passionate about creating quality user interfaces and making technology working for her.

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