Quick Guide to Twitter

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About
twitter-logoTwitter is seen as a prime place for professional networking, for news and updates, and for use as a backchannel in conferences, as well as for real-time chats using hashtags.

Website: www.twitter.com
Availability: Hosted and via apps
Cost: Free

Key features

You establish connections with people by “following” them and this means you will receive their tweets in your news feed. Take a look at an individual’s profile page and their recent tweets and then decide if this is someone you would like to follow. If you later decide that you don’t want to follow them, it is easy to unfollow them.

You can set up your own profile and design your own Twitter page, so that people can find out more about you, and what you tweet about. Here’s mine @C4LPT.

profile

How to tweet

  • To send a tweet to all your followers – Just enter your message in less than 140 characters and press send. All those who are following you will receive it.  It will also be listed on your public timeline, so that if anyone looks at your Twitter profile they will see it there too.
  • Re-tweet someone else’s tweet – If you are re-posting the complete tweet from someone else, Twitter automatically shows this as a RT. If you are changing the original tweet somehow then use MT (Modified Tweet) rather than RT. Tweeters often add their own comments in a re-tweet, and mark it off from the original tweet with symbols like < | or /
  • Mention someone in a tweet – Use their username, e.g @C4LPT in the tweet. But note that if you put @username at the beginning of the tweet, only your followers who ALSO follow that person will see the tweet (i.e not everyone who follows you will receive it) – although it will still appear on your public timeline. Twitter considers this to be a tweet to that user rather than broadcast tweet.
  • Send a private message to someone – aka a Direct Message (or DM). Put d in front of their Twitter name, e.g. “d C4LPT how are you?” Note, only that person will receive the tweet AND The tweet will NOT appear in your timeline. DMs can now contain more than 140 characters.

Twitter lists are aggregated lists of people, so if you follow a list, you essentially follow all the people in that list.  You can even create your own Lists, if you want, to categorise those you follow.

hashtagsTwitter hashtags are keywords beginning with the character # which can be placed anywhere in a tweet. Hashtags are used to keep related tweets together on a subject, so, if you click on a hashtag, you will see a list of recent tweets that have also used that same hashtag – by different users, The example to the right shows different tweets using the hashtag #learning.

  • Popular hashtags are shown on the Twitter screen as Trends, so when a hashtag appears here it is said to be “trending”.   
  • Hashtags are used at conferences and other events to allow people to discuss the conference or event session in a Twitter backchannel. Backchannels also mean you don’t have to be present in the event itself to find out and discuss what is taking place. As a presenter you can might even tweet yourself into the backchannel to interact with the audience.
  • Hashtags are also used in live Twitter chats to support regular synchronous discussions on Twitter. These Twitter chats have become very popular on all subjects. 

Although you can use Twitter on the Web to read and receive tweets, many people use some other desktop or mobile app to do this, e.g. Tweetdeck.

Guides & Resources

General

Hashtags and Twitter chats

Twitter as a professional tool