How to: Twitter

I just explained the basics of Twitter to a friend, and realized there may be other people (ahem, Mom) who might want to know about all this. This is one of those blog posts that was previously an email. Comment below if there’s anything else you’d like to know, or something I left out.

A tweet is one Twitter message.

You have 140 characters to use — no more. I urge you to choose brevity over ur othr choice if possible. There can be a nice haiku-like meditation to making your words count. It’s a throwback to telegrams. Stop.

If you share a link, use a link shortener like bit.ly so you have more characters to play with. Even if you have space left, think about those who may want to retweet and enough characters comment.

If you want to refer to someone who is on twitter, use an @ before their username. Even if they don’t follow you, they’ll see you in their Mentions.

Same goes for you — if someone mentions your username, you’ll see it there (it’s somewhere in the dashboard on Twitter.)

This one is important, and not obvious: if you want to tweet something that will only be seen by you, them, and anyone who subscribes to BOTH of you, start the tweet with their username. That way, everyone who is following you but not following me won’t have to see our back-and-forth out of context.
Example: @sundaykofax thanks!

Inversely, if you want to mention someone in a tweet and want everyone to see it, don’t start with their name. If you do, put a . first.
Example: .@sundaykofax I agree-there’s no need to give money to NASA during a recession.

A hashtag is a way to give your tweet a searchable point, so someone who doesn’t read your tweets can find yours when they’re searching for the same topic.

Memes (a meme is like a catch-phrase, only with anything on the Internet) use hashtags, like #tweetyour16yearoldself. You can see memes that are getting popular on the right side of the Twitter page.
Example: Someday, you’ll wish you would have kept that Barbie in the box #tweetyour16yearoldself

You can make up a hashtag. #ijustdid. It’s #whatthecoolkidsdo It’s often used as a punchline. (Note that any punctuation will break up the tag.)

People who you follow/who follow you are called tweeps — Twittter+peeps.

Find a good Twitter app for your phone — either Twitter’s or a third party. Reading tweets with your phone saves a lot of time.

Don’t follow too many people, especially those who who tweet a lot, lest you get overwhelmed and stop using it at all.

Occasionally go through and weed out those tweeps whose tweets you end up ignoring anyway.

You can add a Twitter widget to a website (I do, see Microblogging), or hook it to Facebook so your tweets double as status updates.

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