Learn the basics of Twitter


Are you new to Twitter?

If you need a bit of help in getting started and understanding some of the jargon and conventions of Twitter then this short cheat sheet is for you.

1. Twitter jargon

Here is the basic jargon you will come across:

Avatar: Your picture in your Twitter profile.
Direct Message: A private message that only you and the sender can read.
Follow: When you follow someone you will be able to see their public tweet messages.
Followers: These are people following you on Twitter and receive your public tweets. Your followers are also known as your Tweeps.
Tweet: This is what a Twitter message is called. It is limited to 140 characters.
Retweet: This is when you forward a tweet you have received onto your followers. Be sure to include in your retweet the Twitter ID of the person who originally sent you the tweet as this gives them credit for the tweet.
Hashtag (#): The hashtag is used to indicate that your tweet is about a specific topic or keyword. It also makes it easier for you to search on twitter what others are tweeting about a topic or keyword e.g. searching for #woods on Twitter will show you all tweets about Tiger Woods. If you also have something to tweet about Tiger Woods then begin your tweet with #woods so people can find your tweet.
Tweetstream: All of the tweets you’ve made on Twitter.

2. The different types of tweets

Below are the basics on how to tweet and contribute to the twitterverse.

@someone’s-twitter-ID – This directs your tweet at someone specific but also allows others to view this tweet. This allows others to participate in the conversation e.g. @ChenkaNkhata
dm someone’s-twitter-ID – This sends a private message to someone following you on twitter e.g. dm ChenkaNkhata
RT @someone’s-twitter-ID – This forwards a tweet you received to your followers (retweet) and identifies whom you got the original tweet from e.g. RT @ChenkaNkhata
#keyword – This will associate your tweet with a keyword or topic e.g. #woods He was great today check this video out …

3. How to include a website link in your Tweet

Twitter only allows you 140 characters to tweet, in other words, you can only send short messages.

Often, you will come across an interesting website that you want to share with others but the problem with website links is that they can be too long e.g. http://www.i-am-not-a-techie.info/2010/02/free-training-excel-power-point-etc.html

A website link eats into your 140 characters.

The solution is to use a website link shortening service like Bit.ly.

The process is simple, just go to Bit.ly, copy and paste the long website link into Bit.ly and click “Shorten”. As an example, the long website link above has be shortened by Bit.ly to: http://bit.ly/hiljlh
You can now use the short version for you tweet.

4. Twitter software

You can use Twitter directly from you computer or mobile phone.
  • For computer – Check out TweetDeck 
  • For mobile phone – check out your phone’s official app store or Twitter's official website. TwitDroyd is my personal favourite on Android. 

5. Summary

Those are the basics. Twitter has developed a cult like following and many words have been invented because of Twitter.

If you come across a Twitter word you are unfamiliar with you can find word definitions at http://twittonary.com/. You guessed it, that is short for Twitter Dictionary.

Final tip: when on Twitter, please keep it clean and try not to tweetsult anyone.

Related article:
 What is the point of Twitter?

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