New to Twitter? Did you just log in for the first time, and you feel your Twitter profile looks like a lonely wasteland? And seeing that, are you wondering what all the excitement is about? Here are a few tips to get up and running with Twitter, and to find just the right people and information. Your Twitter space will be home to you in no time.
- – After you sign up for Twitter, just enter a message (maximum 140 characters) in the entry field at the top of your Home page. All who follow you will see your tweets. If no one is following you yet, send a little introduction message anyway just for practice. It will be there for people later.
- – Your Twitter space will be populated by the tweets of all the people you follow, so go out and find some Twitterers. See Finding Friends and Following Tweeple, below.
Finding Friends and Following Tweeple
- – Having an avatar is helpful when people start following you; everyone wants to know with whom they’re speaking. Therefore, as soon as you can, add a picture of yourself or supply an image by which people can identify you. A bio is helpful, too. (See Making It Your Home, below.)
- – To find friends or interesting individuals who twitter, click Find People at the top of your profile. Type in their names, or just try searching “New York Times,” “Library of Congresss,” “noaa,” “oceanexplorer,” or other entities of interest. This is a good way to find news sites and other topics as well. To receive all their tweets, click the Follow button.
- – People you follow will receive a notice that you are following them, and in turn they will probably follow you.
- – To find more people or sites to follow, see who THEY are following and follow the ones that interest you!
- – To find celebrities, people, or categories of interest, go to http://wefollow.com/.
- – If you know someone’s username, you can travel directly to their Twitter space by going to http://www.twitter.com/[username].
- – If you don’t want certain people following you, it’s easy to Block them.
Finding Topics that Interest You
- – You can find a comprehensive directory of topics at
- – Another way to search Twitter is to go to http://search.twitter.com/. You can do advanced searches here. To use Advanced Search, click Advanced Search. Here, you can refine your search to find just what you want among the zillions of tweets.
- – TweetScan is another Twitter search engine: http://tweetscan.com/.
- – There is a Search field in your own Profile area. Type any term into that field. For example, “How to Paint Stripes on Your Walls. “
- – To find a discussion with a more continuous thread, try typing a hash tag (#) before your one-word search term, as in #iranelection. (See more about hash tags below.)
- – When you get Advanced Search results, note the Twitter operators at the top of the page. This syntax can be typed into any search field. For example:
- – To find trending topics (those that are popular at the moment), see http://twitscoop.com/ or http://hashtags.org/.
Twittering for Fun
- – If you like a tweet and want to preserve it forever, mouse over it. A star-shaped icon appears at the right of the text. Click that. After you collect Favorites, you can click the Favorites link on your home page to see all the tweets you’ve ever saved as Favorites, no matter how long ago you saved them. You can also go to other users’ pages and browse through their Favorites.
- – Retweets (or RT’s) are a way to quote another Twitter user. If someone posts something interesting, you can quote them by sending out a RT. RT’s provide a way to help a message to be redistributed widely. The syntax for RT’s is as follows: RT @username post. For example:
rt @threeporcupines How to Paint Stripes on Your Walls : http://bit.ly/Ql9q9
- – Want help in shrinking your message to 140 characters? Go to http://tweetshrink.com/, type in your message, and when it has done its work, just copy and paste your converted message into the message field.
Sending Special Tweets
- – If you want people to follow your new discussion topics, try adding a # (hashtag) before the topic. To learn more about hashtags, see the illuminating article at: http://www.techforluddites.com/2009/02/the-twitter-hash-tag-what-is-it-and-how-do-you-use-it.html. To see trending (currently popular) hash tags, go to http://hashtags.org/ . If you use hash tags, remember that it’s helpful to get your topic seen by more people if you also follow http://hashtags.org/, because it follows you and categorizes your hash tags for others to see .
Also, See http://www.gissisim.com/2009/03/learn-more-about-hashtags/ .
- – Want to be a Twitter nag? Send nudge username and they’ll get a request to send a current Tweet.
- – You can send a Twitter message directly to another Twitter user’s phone and email account with the Direct Message (DM) command. Enter d username message, and users will get your message in their email, and also via device if they have enabled their phone or IM account.
- – If you enter a Tweet with @username at the beginning of it, your message will go directly to their Twitter profile, and is understood as being intended for that particular person, although others will be able to see it.
- – A newer feature also using the @ sign is “Mentions,” which you use simply to share another username. You can type @[username] anywhere in the message, and that username automatically becomes a link to the specific profile. This technique is used extensively on Fridays. To see how it works, try this: next Friday, log into Twitter, search #followfriday, and see all the Twitterers that other people are following. Put some of your own favorites out there with an @ sign and append the #followfriday tag. This lets your followers know who you think are good people to follow. (Getting the hang of this?)
- – To post a picture with your tweet: Go to http://twitpic.com/, log in with your Twitter username, and click Upload photo. Choose an image on your computer, add a message, and post it. It goes out as a tweet with a link to your picture. You can also post photos from your phone–just send your photos to your username as specified on the Twitpic upload page.
- – Want to know how those little URLs get there? If you have a URL you would like to share, go to http://tinyurl.com/ and see how it’s done! There are more URL shrinkers, too. See http://lifehacker.com/5068945/five-best-url-shrinkers .
- – If you use Facebook, You can make your writing a two-for-one effort: see http://apps.facebook.com/twitter/ or http://twitter.com/widgets/facebook . Use one or the other.
Sending and Receiving Tweets by Phone or IM
- – Activate your mobile phone on Twitter if you want to tweet on the go: Click Settings, and then click the Devices tab. Follow the directions.
- – To tweet from a mobile phone, send an SMS message to 40404, and the message becomes your Tweet. (Your phone’s caller ID is attached to your Twitter account, so the system will know it’s from you.)
- – From IM, message TwitterIM if you’re on AOL, or firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re on Jabber/GTalk.
- – In the cases above, all your “followers” will see your message on their own Twitter pages and possibly on their mobile devices as well.
- – By default, alerts to your mobile phones (Devices) are set to Off. To get cell phone alerts, add your mobile phone, as described above. Then, you can set up your phone to receive all messages, no messages, or just messages from a selected few.
- – You can set up Twitter to send you device updates (cell phone alerts and email messages) from only specific usernames from whom you want to hear: Go to your profile’s list of “Following,” open the profile of the person you want, and then click the Following status icon beneath their username. Turn Device updates On or Off here. Once the Device is set to On for those individuals, you will receive their tweets–and only their tweets–in your email and on your cell phone.
Making It Your Home
- – It’s best to add a picture of yourself (or else an image by which people can identify you) as soon as you can. Also add some information about yourself–just enough so your friends and interested parties can find and accept you. As we said above, everyone wants to know with whom they’re speaking.
- – To add your personal info: Click Settings at the top of your page. Under the Account tab, minimally add your name, location and a little bio. Under Picture, add a small picture or an icon that you think identifies you.
- – You can decorate your space as you see fit! Under Settings, click Design. Select a theme, change design colors, and add your own picture. Have fun–make it your official presence, or rearrange the furniture as often as you want!
- – You can always change your username from the Settings/Account panel; be assured that your followers will continue to follow you. However, you should notify anyone who has become accustomed to messaging you at @username.
- – When you get to a point that you have so many tweets it’s difficult to weed through them, there are several remedies. Since November 1, 2009, Twitter offers a new Lists feature: (see http://bit.ly/hG92T). Another web-based option that enables you to filter tweets into columns using any scheme you choose is HootSuite. If you don’t mind installing software, you can also try using TweetDeck, a desktop application that lets you efficiently filter tweets into columns.
- – See some Twitter commands at: http://wayofthegeek.org/2009/02/twitter-commands/, http://help.twitter.com/forums/10711/entries/14020, and http://help.twitter.com/portal . Most of these can be used either from your cell phone (txt message to 40404) or the web.
- – Twitter messages may drive you insane if they are coming into your cell phone. If you want to turn them off, here’s how: send the command Off, Sleep, or Stop to Twitter. To turn it back on, send On, Wake, or Start.
- – There are lots of twitter applications, too. See :
- http://tweetdeck.com/beta/; more at http://wayofthegeek.org/2009/02/twitter-commands/; and http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/technology/personaltech/07basics.html
- You can find a compendium of Twitter apps at: http://oneforty.com/.