When I ask people if they use Twitter, the common responses I get are;
“I don’t get it”
“I already have Facebook”
“It’s not for me, I don’t see the point of telling everyone every little thing I do”.
People are generally quite surprised to find out that the things stopping them from using Twitter are actually common misconceptions, of a high misunderstood platform.
From the outside Twitter can appear to be a social media microcosm full of tweeps who speak a new language. But in actuality there is not too much you need to understand to get started. In this series of posts I will attempt to break-down the barriers stopping you from using and enjoying Twitter.
Essentially Twitter is a giant list of short messages contributed by millions of people around the world. Your Twitter experience is a constantly updating subset of those messages based on who you associate yourself with (follow), and what your interested in (search). The rest is just ways and means to build and engage with your present and future followers.
- Tweet: The most basic component of Twitter. A tweet is a single message from a single user. Kind of like a status update on Facebook, but a tweet can be no more than 140 characters long.
- Home, Feed, or Tweets: This is a list of all your tweets and those of the people you follow.
- Follow: This the process of subscribing to receive all future tweets from a specific user. Following someone means their tweets will appear in your Home feed.
- Followers: These are the people who have elected to follow you. They will receive the tweets you post in their Home feeds.
- @name: This is a username Twitter name, a unique identifier which references them. e.g. my username is @benjaminpaton
- #hashtag: This is a way of indexing or categorising your tweet to make it more searchable. For instances, the words of your tweet may not be easily associated with the topic of your tweet, so adding relevant hashtags will help other people find your tweets.
e.g. “How exciting I setup my new account today, lets see how things go!” could be supplemented with #Twitter or #SocialMedia
There is no limitation on what a hashtag can be, but if you use common tags that other people use, then your tweets will appear in searches people know to use. You will come to know what the common hashtags associated with your interests are as other users will be using them. The basic rule is keep it simple. #Productivity will be more productive than #ProductivityTweets.
- Retweet: This is a function used for sharing a tweet you see from someone else on Twitter. As everybody’s Twitter experience is different, the people you follow will be following different people to you. A retweet allows you to take their tweet and share it with your followers. A retweet will appear to your follows as though it came from its original creator, hence giving your followers the opportunity to be introduced and potentially follow the source of the tweet. A retweet can either be done by clicking the Retweet button of the desired tweet, or by putting RT and the persons username before the tweet; e.g. “RT @benjaminpaton Awesome Tweet…”
- Mention: A mention is where another user includes your username in their tweet. It could either be a simple mention like; “I had a great day with @benjaminpaton” or it could be a attribution, which is is generally something like; “I came across this great link today via @benjaminpaton”
- Reply: A reply is a very specific type of mention where the username is the first part of the tweet. e.g. “@benjaminpaton I really liked that tweet”
- Direct Message: This is a behind the scenes communication channel that is build into Twitter. As an alternatively to publicly tweet mentioning/replying, Direct Messaging lets you communicate in private.
N.B. to be able to DM a user, you must be following each other.
No go ahead, and follow tweeps so you cantweet to your followers about how they shouldn’t forget to mention you in their replies to the retweets about the hashtags you direct messaged them… or something like that.