Twitter for Beginners: a Quick Primer

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Twitter for mobile

If you are new to Twitter, it can be overwhelming and daunting understanding what to do and finding your way around. Twitter is all about interacting and engaging. Here are a few quick tips.

1. Tweet

Share your thoughts in 140 characters with a tweet. Simply type in your text in the text box and click the “Tweet” button. You can include an image in your tweet, or a link to a web page, or a video. If you tweet a lot of generally helpful and/or interesting material, chances are that more and more people will follow you.

2. Retweet

See something tweeted by someone else and you think that others will find it interesting? Below that specific tweet, look for the “Retweet” button and click. It is instantly re-tweeted to your followers. If you retweet too much irrelevant material, you risk offending your followers, so don’t overdo it.

3. Reply

See something tweeted by someone and you want to reply? Look for the Reply button under the tweet in question, click it, and you are presented with a box containing the contact’s handle (a handle is a username e.g. @Mister_Mobility). Leave a space after the handle and type your reply, then click the “Tweet” button. If someone’s handle is not in the text box, you are not replying them.

3. Favourite

See something tweeted by someone else that strikes you and you would love to “file away” so you can access it easily again? Under the specific tweet, look for the “Favourite” button and click. That tweet is instantly bookmarked. You can access all your favourites or bookmarks later by going to your Favourites tab.

4. Direct Messages

If you want to discuss privately with someone without disturbing the public with things that are unimportant to them, use Direct Messages (DM). Whatever you send to and fro there is not viewable by the public. Note that you can only send a DM to somebody who is following you and vice-versa.

5. Settings

In your Settings, you have the option to enable/disable mobile and email notifications, set a profile photo, add your bio, including a webpage if you have one, and more. Write a profile that gives basic information about you. It is one of the first things people will check out about you.

6. Following and being Followed

Follow people that you find interesting. They might follow back or not. Don’t sweat it. Just keep interacting and putting out useful or interesting information.

7. Links

You might come across a tweet by someone you follow containing a link – perhaps an interesting article. It might be that someone tweeted a link at you. Clicking it will take you to a webpage. Do be wary of links from unknown handles, or handles with zero followers and following zero people. Usually, those are spam and clicking such a link may get your Twitter account or PC compromised.

8. Be Polite

It seems like a given, but some people pride themselves in being consistently rude. You shouldn’t be that kind of person on Twitter or anywhere else. It costs nothing to be polite. It is a small world; make the best of it.

Using Twitter may all seem heavy and a bit confusing at first, but you will get the hang of it. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are jerks everywhere, for sure, but you will also find lots of helpful people who are willing to explain things to you and to engage you in pleasant ways on a regular basis. Welcome to Twitter. Have fun!

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