Senior’s Twitter Guide: Part 2 | How to Use Twitter

April 26, 2010

The first part of our Twitter Guide was on why seniors should use Twitter. If we’ve convinced you and you want to start, the 2nd part of this guide will show you how to sign up for Twitter and how to use it.

Twitter Terminology

First you need to understand some common Twitter terminology before you can use Twitter.

  • Tweet– A tweet is a message sent on Twitter. Tweets are limited to 140 characters.
  • Follow /Unfollow – To read someone’s tweets you follow them. If you are no longer interested in what they are saying you can instantly unfollow them.
  • Retweet (RT)- When someone tweets something that you think is interesting you can retweet the message to your followers. The typical format is “RT @User original message”
  • An example of a RT on Twitter

  • @– The @ symbol is used address a person. If you want to reply to someone you use the @symbol followed by their username
  • Direct Message (DM)- While tweets are available to the public if someone is following you back you can send them a private direct message.
  • Hash Tags- People use hashtags to help other people find information. For example if we tweet something that is of interest to seniors we will use the hashtag #seniors. People at conferences can use a pre-determined hashtag to keep track of all tweets concerning the event.
  • Twitter Hashtag Example

  • Follow Friday #FF- Follow Friday is a popular hashtag on Fridays. People use it to recommend people to their followers.

Signing up For Twitter

The first thing you need to do is create an account. To do this you’ll need to enter your e-mail address, choose a username and password and agree to the terms of service. When you choose a username try to make it as short as possible. Twitter will also ask for your full name so other people can search for you on Twitter.

Finding People to Follow

You’ll then see suggestions of people in various categories like entertainment, fashion and politics. The next step is finding out of if any of your friends are on Twitter. If you use Gmail, Yahoo or AOL as your e-mail account, Twitter can look through your address book to see if any one you know is on Twitter. If you don’t use one of these e-mail providers you can go on to the next step and manually search for people or businesses you want to follow.

Making a Profile

After this you’ll be taken to the main page and one of the first things you should do is fill in your profile. At the top of the screen, click on the settings button. At the top of this page click on the profile button. Here you can fill in your location and website if you have one. Then you can write a short description of yourself. This helps other people know a bit more about you and why they should follow you.

Make sure you take the time to upload a small picture of yourself. Accounts without pictures are often viewed as spam. Having a picture makes it easier for people to recognize you in their news feed.
Twitter Profile

Twitter News Feed

Once you have found people to follow their tweets will appear in your newsfeed which you can access by clicking on the home button at the top. The more interesting people you follow the more information you’ll get. The longer you are on Twitter the more accustomed you will become and you will quickly observe how Twitter works.

What to Tweet

You can tweet about anything you like as long as you can say it in 140 characters. You can talk about your daily life, events you’re going to attend or a short review of a movie you’ve just seen.

Twitter is a great way to share information. If you’ve just read an article or something else online that you think people should read you can send out a link to your followers. Because you only have 140 characters you should use a url shortening system when sending out links. A url shortener like Bit.ly takes a long url and converts it to a short url. People who click on the short url are automatically redirected to the right url.

If someone on Twitter said something you think should be shared you can retweet it. The typical format is “RT @User original message.”

If you read a question on Twitter you can reply by clicking the reply button at the bottom of the tweet or by putting the symbol @ in front of the person’s username. You can check to see if anybody has replied to you by clicking on the @your-username button on the sidebar. Even people following you might miss a tweet you send out so tagging someone like this ensures that they will read your tweet.

What Not to Tweet

Try not to send too many tweets at once. Otherwise it fills up people’s newsfeeds and is seen as noisy.

Don’t just send out links. Nobody will click on a link unless they know why they should click on the link. Include the article’s headline or your own thoughts on the information you are linking to.

If you own a business or have a blog you shouldn’t just send out tweets about yourself. You want to share other interesting things as well.

Twitter Guide Part 3

Now you know how to use Twitter but Twitter is only as interesting as the people you follow.  Part 3 of our Twitter Guide will show you how to find  interesting people to follow and share tips on getting followers yourself.

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