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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How To Use Twitter - A Guide For Newbies

Everything you need to know to be a Twitter expert.
You just signed up for a Twitter account and you're looking at that screen and that empty box that says, "What's happening?" - now what? I wish I had someone to tell me what to do when I first started on Twitter. If you're confused and want to be a pro by the end of this post, then this is How To Use Twitter - A Guide For Newbies.

Over the years, I've had about 20 Twitter accounts. My latest account is relatively new, but I'm getting the most use out of it.

There are two basic things you can do on Twitter and they can be intermingled - be social or promote something - a business, yourself, a cause, content you like, pictures you like, etc. Whatever you feel is worth sharing, you can do it.

Sending Tweets

Messages sent on Twitter are called tweets. They can contain up to 140 characters or spaces. To get the most in your tweets, you will see people write a tweet like this: ur doin' fine 2day. Cya later.
If someone likes what you tweet and they send it on to other people, that is called a retweet.

Mentions are tweets that contain @YourScreenName or @AnotherScreenName. If you send a message with one or more @Person1, @Person2, etc., the tweet will go to everyone Mentioned.

If you want to sent a tweet to someone you are following, all you have to do is enter the @ and Twitter will begin to auto-fill the name you want to send to. Twitter will only auto-fill from the last 500 people you are following. If you tweet to more than 500 people, you might want to look into TweetDeck or HootSuite, which has an auto-fill feature, regardless of how many people you follow. (See link below for TweetDeck, HootSuite comparison.)

If you want to send a private message to someone, click on the message icon on their profile. These messages do not go out on the public timeline. If you need to share a phone number, address or other private information, use the message (formerly direct message or DM) to send what you want kept private.

Use the icon on the left to send a direct message. Use the one on the right to send a tweet to someone, add them to a list, block them or report them for spam and block them.

Adding Pictures and Links

Adding pictures is simple. Once you have clicked in the "What's happening?" box, it will expand and two icons will appear at the lower left of the box. Use the camera icon to select pictures you want to share or add a location with the other icon.

Add pictures to your tweets by clicking on the camera icon.

To share content, most websites or blogs have share buttons where you can easily click, alter the message and send it to your Twitter feed. If a site does not have a share button, you can click on the title of the article and it should produce a unique URL for that page in your browser window.

This URL relates to the blog post below from my blog. Click to enlarge.
Blog post for the URL above. 

Copy the URL and paste it into the "What's happening?" window. Twitter will automatically shorten the URL. You can see how many characters you have left by looking at the number next to the Tweet button. Complete your message and press Tweet.

Twitter will not allow you to send the same message twice in a row. If you are sharing a tweet with a link or picture, have several different tweets and mix them up. They don't all have to have pictures or links in them, you just can't send the same tweet twice in a row. 

How Do You Get Followers?

Times have changed. When Twitter first started, it was customary to follow anyone who followed you. So, getting followers was easy. Now, famous people have thousands or millions of followers and the rest of us have to do it on the merit of the content that we share.

If you share interesting content, people will want to follow you. However, you need to get your content in front of more people. That can be done when people retweet what you send out. Your content then goes to their followers.

It's good to engage people in conversations, comment, share content, etc. Their followers see you and you will gain followers from their followers. 

Just by following people, you will get some people who will follow back. However, Twitter has a limit. You can only follow 2,001 people until your followers exceed 2,001. So, don't follow 2,000 people right off the bat and then have to unfollow people when you really want to follow someone.

Twitter tracks mass follow/unfollow activity and they can suspend your account. Add people you follow gradually, keep tweeting good content, engage people, make friends, comment, and grow your followers.

There are two other ways to get your content in front of more people.

First, use hashtags (#). Think of these as mini-groups. People will watch certain hashtags. I write a lot of comedy, so I use hashtags like #humor #comedy #lmao #lol #hilarious #funny and a few others. You might have content related to fishing, so you might use hashtags like #fishing #anglers #trout #flyfishing (notice there are no spaces between the two word hashtags, otherwise, the tweet with the last hashtag would only go to #fly.

You can use any hashtags you want, however, it is a good idea to check out hashtags you want to use.

Add your hashtag into the search box at the top, press Enter/Return

If you try #crossbow, you will see that there are only six or seven tweets to #crossbow - not a good hashtag for trying to get exposure. If you find a hashtag with a long list of tweets under it, check to see how often the tweets are coming through by checking the date/time stamp in the lower left part of the tweet. If you see that tweets are coming through every 5 minutes or 10 minutes, this is probably a good hashtag to use. If they are only coming in every couple days, reconsider.

By using hashtags, you get your content in front of larger audiences and give yourself a chance to get more followers.

Another way to get in front of larger audiences is to send relative content to someone with a lot of followers. You not only get the benefit of your followers potentially seeing your content, but you get the potential benefit of their followers seeing your content. Make sure the content is relevant.

I write recaps of America's Got Talent. So, I send the tweets with the link to the show recap to Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan, Nick Cannon and @nbcagt. That gets my content exposed to well over a million people on Twitter. Note, the content is relevant. It promotes the show.

If you are sending sales pitches to Howie Mandel, he will block you in a second. Sending inappropriate content to hashtags or using too many hashtags in a tweet is considered hashtag abuse and Twitter will turn off your ability to use hashtags.

Stay relevant and you should not have a problem. Send news to news outlets. Share jokes to people on Twitter who specialize in jokes.

There are a number of robots that pick up certain hashtags and automatically retweet them. Some of these robots have large followings. Spotting these robots and making note of the hashtags they retweet can help you get your content to more people.

Targeting Who You Follow

You can find people in a particular category by using the search box at the top. Type in any topic or person's name, see what comes up. You can refine your search on the results page and start following more targeted people, based on your interests. If you're in a business that serves nightclubs, then do a search for "nightclub" or "nightclubs" or you could try "taverns" "bars" "entertainment spots" "hangouts" "bistros" - not everyone uses the same words in their profile or in their tweets.


On the lower right hand side of your Twitter interface is a list called Trends. These are hot topics. You can click on the word change and switch to see the hot Trends in other countries or other cities.

It is a good idea to watch the trends. If you are a blogger or have a website and you see a Trend that relates to content you have, then you may want to compose a tweet with a link to that content and include the words of the Trend, like Veterans (above). Again, more people than just your followers will see this content. It will increase the exposure for your content and increase your chances of gaining followers.

#FF #FollowFriday

A fun little thing that some Twitter users do on Friday is to compose a tweet with a list of people they think people should follow. The tweet will look like this. @GoodPerson @SuperFriend @NiceGuy @SmartGirl @HappyMan @ChubbyLady - the person sending the tweet will include the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday or #follow. Who knows if anyone really follows these people, but it is a nice gesture.


And as a parting note, before you dive into Twitter, you better not have this as your profile picture...

Twitter Death Picture
If you want to pretty much guarantee you'll take the longest, hardest road to getting followers, do not use the default picture on Twitter. You don't have to have a picture of your face, you just need to have a picture of anything. People on Twitter view the people with the default picture as clueless newbies, porn peddlers or some other type of spammer. Or, that is a person who just doesn't give a crap. Get a picture.

You should know everything you need to know on How To Use Twitter from this Guide For Newbies. However, if you have additional questions, email me at: - allow a few days for a response.

Related Articles:
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How Twitter Could Stop Spam Tomorrow. But Will They?
Profile Of A Twitter Spammer. STOP SPAM. Report Them.
Why #Twitter Rules Prevent Me From Following You - Temporarily

Twitter Blames Service Interruptions On Too Many Morons With Smartphones
Twitter Changes Make Getting Followers Hard, Unless You Are Famous
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  1. Nicely done sir. I have to admit though. I was waiting for the punchline the whole time. Ha... cheers.

  2. That's too funny... waiting for the punchline. It's an indirect compliment to my comedic efforts. Thanks. Learn how to use Twitter and you can fight with the Titans of Tweet. LOL


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