Twitter basics - a quick guide to basic lingo and definitions

Holly - posted on 10/28/2009 ( 1 mom has responded )




So you've signed up for Twitter, picked a "handle", and sent your first tweet announcing your arrival in the Twittersphere. Now what? I thought it might be useful for to share the basics of Twitter lingo and how to get started. These basic functions and symbols and are all you really need to start tweeting, following other users, and having fun connecting and chatting with followers.

1. Following
When you "follow" someone on twitter, it means you have chosen to have their tweets show up in the stream of Twitter updates you receive. Twitter gives you lots of ways to find people to follow. You can find people you know based on Google, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail or MSN email address or let Twitter recommend people for you. If you already know someone's Twitter handle, you can look them up that way.

2. Being followed
When someone follows you, they are subscribing to a feed of all your tweets.

3. Unfollowing
If you change your mind about following someone, you can simply "unfollow" them and you will no longer get their updates.

4. Using the @ symbol
The @ symbol is used whenever you want to refer to a specific Twitter user. Use it to reply, refer, or re-tweet another user. For instance, if I want to reply to your tweet, I simply include the @symbol with your username after it somewhere in my tweet (usually at the beginning). All the users you refer to will see your tweets in their "mentions".

5. Mentions
Mentions are instances where someone has included your Twitter username in their tweet. They might be replying to you or tweeting about you. Your Twitter profile will show you a list of all your mentions or you can do a search on your handle (be sure to include the @ symbol before your handle) and see who is talking about you!

6. Direct Message (DM)
A DM is a message that is private between you and another user. To send a direct message, just start your tweet with the letter D followed by the receiver's username.

7. Re-tweeting (RT)
This is simply re-sending out someone else's tweet. For instance, if you see a really funny or interesting tweet that you think your followers would like, you can hit the "retweet" icon (if you use a separate Twitter application) or copy and paste their whole tweet into your update field, add "RT" to the beginning, and hit send (if you are doing it from your Twitter account). How powerful is re-tweeting? If you send a tweet to your 100 followers and 15 of those people re-tweet it to their 100 followers, you've just reached 1500 people!

8. Searching
If you are trying to see what the Twitterverse is saying about a certain subject, you can do a search using keywords or phrases. If you want to see what people are saying about the Balloon Boy hoax, just search "balloon boy hoax" or "balloon boy" and you'll see all tweets that include those exact words. Want to see what people are discussing with sports, news, a hobby, or even your company? Just search on those specific terms.

While there are lots of sophisticated ways to use Twitter, you can enjoy all the fun with just these basics.


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