Twitter 101: How should I get started using Twitter?

By on Feb 5, 2011 in Twitter Tips |

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If you’ve signed up to Twitter and are wondering how to get started or why you’re here, this page is for you. This guide is designed to help you dive into Twitter’s wealth of information and find what matters most to you. First things first, you might be wondering:

What’s Twitter Anyway?

Twitter is an information network made up of 140-character messages called Tweets. It’s a new and easy way to discover the latest news (“what’s happening”) related to subjects you care about.

How is it Useful?

Twitter contains information you will find valuable. Messages from users you choose to follow will show up on your homepage for you to read. It’s like being delivered a newspaper whose headlines you’ll always find interesting – you can discover news as it’s happening, learn more about topics that are important to you, and get the inside scoop in real time.

How to Start Using Twitter:

If you remember one thing after perusing this page, it should be this: reading Tweets and discovering new information whenever you check in on your Twitter timeline is where you’ll find the most value on Twitter. Some people find it useful to contribute their own Tweets, but the real magic of Twitter lies in absorbing real-time information that matters to you.

1. DISCOVER SOURCES: find and follow others

It’s best to begin your journey by finding and following other interesting Twitter accounts. Look for businesses you love, public service accounts, people you know, celebrities, or news sources you read. (Click here for help finding interesting accounts.) Tip: One great way to find more interesting accounts is see who those you know or admire are following.

2. CHECK IT OFTEN: pay attention to what’s happening

Messages from others you follow will show up in a readable stream on your homepage timeline. Once you’ve followed a few people, you’ll have a new page of information to read each time you log in. Click links in others’ Tweets to view: photos and videos they have posted, the profiles of users mentioned in their message, or Tweets related to a hashtag (#) keyword they used. Tip: Try hovering your mouse over a user’s name anywhere on your homepage. You’ll see a pop-up box called a “hovercard” containing information about that user.

3. TAKE IT WITH YOU: connect your mobile

One of the best things about Twitter is that it’s portable. Connect your account to your mobile phone (see below for instructions) or download a Twitter application to begin reading Tweets on the go. Now you can get updates about traffic problems in the middle of your commute, find out what the players are saying while you’re at the game, or catch up on the buzz about an event you’re about to attend. The possibilities are endless! Tip: Using Twitter via SMS allows you to pick and choose which updates you want from those you follow, so you can get mobile updates from the accounts that matter most to your life on-the-go.

How to Start Tweeting:

Many users find it fun or exciting to contribute their own content to Twitter (we call this “tweeting”). If you’re one of them, here are some good ways to get started posting your own Tweets. People you know and people you are interested in what you have to say may follow you and they’ll see all the Tweets you share with them.

1. BUILD A VOICE: retweet, reply, react

Use existing information (other people’s Tweets) on Twitter to find your own voice and show others what you care about. Retweet messages you’ve found and love, or reply with your reaction to a Tweet you find interesting. Tip: If you’re a new user, others are more likely to find your messages if they are retweets or replies.

2. MENTION: include others in your content

Once you’re ready to begin authoring your own messages, consider mentioning other users by their Twitter username (preceded by the @ sign) in your Tweets. This can help you think of what to write, will draw more eyes to your message, and can even start a new conversation. Try posting a message mentioning a celebrity or person you admire – they often respond to fans. You’ll see their response on your Mentions tab. Tip: Can’t think of anything to write? Don’t worry! Like I said, the real magic lies in locating and reading content on Twitter.

3. GET FANCY: explore advanced features

As you become more engaged on Twitter, others will begin to find and follow you. Once you’re familiar with Twitter basics, consider exploring the site’s more advanced features: lists, direct messages, and favorites. Learn how to include photos or videos in your Tweets, or consider connecting your Twitter account to your your blog, Facebook, or website to show off your updates across the web. Tip: The best way to gain followers on Twitter is to regularly engage and contribute in a meaningful way.

Tips and Tricks:

Need help finding interesting accounts?

Click the “Find People” tab at the top of your Twitter page. You can find and follow other accounts in these three ways: 1) browse accounts by subject, 2) import your address book contacts to find out which friends are already on Twitter, 3) search one-by-one for people or groups of interest.

Need help using Twitter on your mobile phone?

By linking your Twitter account to your mobile phone number, you can receive and write Tweets via text message.