Twitter is an information network made up of 140-character messages called Tweets. It’s an easy way to discover the latest news as it’s happening related to subjects you care about.

Important Terms

Follow” other people (businesses you love, public service accounts, people you know, celebrities, or news sources you read.

Contribute your own content by “tweeting”. This would be a regular post. When you type in a message to Twitter and hit “update” it will be viewable by all the people who are following you.

Retweet” messages you’ve found and love. These will also be viewable by all people who are following. The person you retweeted will be notified of your post.

@reply” with your reaction to a tweet. Mention other users in your tweet by including their Twitter username preceded by the @ symbol. The people you mention will be notified of your post.

Hash Tags” makes your tweets searchable on twitter by placing a “#” in front of a word within your post. Some hashtags trend and are viewed by many people. E.g. #YEG #YYC #Weather #News #Andoid #iPhone

Want people to follow you?

It is difficult to get noticed when you have a new account. You don’t even need to think of your own content in the beginning. Others are more likely to find your tweets if they are retweets, @replies, or include #hashtags. Also many people will follow you back after you follow them.

Sign up for an account

Go to http://twitter.com/signup with your web browser.

On Twitter, your username, or handle/alias, is your identity. If your name is Joe Smith, you may pick a username such as joesmith or joe_smith. You may rather go with something like AlbertaMan1960 or PhotoNut2. When referring to your username within twitter, it would be prefixed by the @ sign.

Customize your Twitter page (link to a website, provide a bio and location, upload a photo, connect your Twitter account to your Facebook account) by selecting Edit Profile from the top toolbar once logged in to Twitter.

Help

Twitter Help Center
https://support.twitter.com/

Twitter 101: How should I get started using Twitter?
https://support.twitter.com/groups/31-twitter-basics/topics/104-welcome-to-twitter-support/articles/215585-twitter-101-how-should-i-get-started-using-twitter

The Twitter Glossary
http://support.twitter.com/articles/166337-the-twitter-glossary#

How to use Twitter
http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-use-twitter

Tools

Twitter For iPhone / Android / iPad / BlackBerry
http://twitter.com/download/

TweetDeck
http://www.tweetdeck.com/
Rather than logging into Twitter, you can have this manage your Tweets and Facebook posts at the same time. This is a Twitter-based tool, so do not make posts that are longer than 140 characters. Remember to press/highlight the Twitter and Facebook tabs on the top area of the TweetDeck to activate and post to those two sites. You can also post only to Twitter and within Twitter Edit Profile, have it connect to Facebook.

Advertising Opportunities

https://business.twitter.com/advertise/start/
Promoted Tweets, Trends, and Accounts

Videos

How To Use Twitter

24 Comments
  1. A great way to use Twitter is to become a central hub for your community news. Get in touch with your neighbours and if someone follows you, thank them. If someone send you a message, make sure to respond with another question. Comment often on tweets from People you follow and share your opinion. You can always re-tweet to make your life easier once in a while. Keep the conversation flowing and you’ll have a list of followers in no time!

  2. I love using the TwItter search functions. It’s a fun way to get up to the date news and how people in general think. You may think you’re the only person in the world that thought of something, but you’ll see someone else thought the exact same thing as you at the same time. The live search function of Twitter is what wins me over.

  3. I’m a Twitter addict! I use search a lot and I almost always append a hashtag to one of my tweets. Huge pet peeve, though: #People who aren’t #sure which #words they should #hashtag, so they #hashtag #most of them! I can’t read tweets like that!

    • Doesn’t hashtagging most of the words defeat the purpose of hashtagging in the first place? I think it does. The hashtags seem fairly pointless to me. I can’t read tweets where everything is hashtagged either. I’m not the addict that you are but I will try to read a good amount of twitter when I have free time though most of it is useless nonsense in the grand scheme of things.

  4. As a follower with twitter, I believe there all the reason to be excited: we would know about the little things of someone we care about. And for those that post, they get to share the little things of their life they find interesting or appreciate. But the the downside, I wonder if our society as a general is becoming too spontaneous without thinking everything through.

    • I agree. There is the upside of Twitter in that it has been very helpful for breaking news stories — sometimes from citizen journalists — especially during disasters, whether natural or man made. And in happier times, it is a great way to communicate very quickly.

      But on the downside, as you mention, it encourages us to be highly spontaneous rather that reflective. Rumors and false information can spread quickly and go viral, for instance. It is difficult to know sometimes what is accurate and what is not.

      And more philosophically, one has to wonder, as the youngest generation grows up on Twitter and its 140 characters, what effect does that have on their values and even their psychological development? Will they treasure thoughtfulness and reflection much less since the immediate and the instantaneous are what gets the most attention?

      • The point about it encouraging people to be superficial and spontaneous is spot on. Twitter rarely has anything of depth to offer. That’s part of the reason why I don’t read it unless I am very bored. 140 characters is not enough to express something meaningful and significant unless it is written in a poetic style. I find it interesting that the company is filing for an IPO and they don’t even turn a profit.

        • Yes, the Twitter IPO is a very interesting development at this point. But not surprising. While they keep reporting substantial losses every year, they do have a lot of users. I was just reading about the IPO and they always talk about the number of users — 200 million — and the number of Tweets per day — 500 million. These are obviously huge numbers, so they see potential in the future for advertising revenue.

          I do think Twitter has become so firmly rooted in pop culture that it will continue to grow. It will be interesting to see how it translates into profits over time.

  5. Twitter really is the social network that I have the most trouble understanding!
    It is very complex and that’s why I stay on Facebook!

    I begin to understand a bit for some time, but it’s still not perfect.

    This guide will help me a lot! I’ll have to pass one day on Twitter!

  6. Twitter has a slightly different concept than Facebook but somehow it is more attractive to me. I don’t think it’s a “family and friend” thing like Facebook or just not as much. With Twitter I really have the impression that the texts and the communication are important, not pictures, videos and social games.

  7. Well, I’ve been on twitter for like 3 years now but I just don’t have that time to spend and tweet about all kind of stuffs. Although, the truth is even with my 70+ followers, I still get more traffic to my site from twitter compared to using facebook with thousands of friends to promote my site.

    I know if I put in more time, I’d get the best out of my twitter account. But one trick I learnt is; by making a tweet in favor of a celebrity, you are guaranteed of getting a mention from them provided that they are active at the time. For example, two weeks ago I made a tweet for a celeb, and he mentioned me on twitter which lead to almost 20retweet, 5 favorites, of my tweet of him. And of course 3 followers.

  8. I could never really get into twitter as it seemed useless to people who aren’t famous. but I can see now how it can be good. Thanks for the guide it was really clear and helpful now I finally understand where “hash tag” comes from!

    • Perhaps I’m just slow to adopt change, but I also find Twitter to be a bit awkward. The types of updates that you receive through it could be handled in more efficient ways, especially in light of the arbitrary word limit. Twitter just seems like an artifact of our cultural inability to focus on anything significant for more than a few seconds at a time.

  9. Thanks David it was really helpful for a guide on how to use the very popular Twitter social network.l This guide really helped me out because I am a brand new user and the whole interface confused me but this whole article cleared it up a lot thanks to you. The think I really like about Twitter is you can get almost instant updates on important things unlike Facebook and other social networks. I probably have to say Twitter has to be my favorite social network I have ever used.

    • I can relate. Twitter is easily my favorite social network as well. I find it is invaluable for getting caught up on events and happenings around the world and the Web as well as social media, as you point out.

      It can also be much less intimidating for the first time and/or casual user that other social media as there is no need for an elaborate profile such as with Facebook or LinkedIn. It’s good to see from comments here that people are learning from David’s excellent and succinct primer on how to use Twitter.

      It’s really a wonderful resource. There is never pressure to Tweet and it’s always interesting and fun to watch the trending topics and to RT the Tweets that are of interest. That’s what I will often do.

  10. I’ve always just posted what I think on Twitter. I haven’t really figured out much about RT @ and other stuff so this info is going to be very useful. Thanks again!

  11. Very informative. I can admit that the first time I logged into Twitter, I had no clue what to do. I am sure this will be very good info for newbies. I know I would have found it very very useful when I started.

  12. Finally someone explains the basics of twitter. I signed up for an account but never really used it because it seemed unnecessarily confusing to me. I figured, “why bother learning this?” Just so that I could tell the world when I was going to hit the head? Or when I bought a new app for my phone?

  13. I find Twitter useful in some ways, but it would be more useful if I knew how to find the right followers. I want to follow real people who live in my local area, but when I search on the names of the towns nearest me, all I can find are businesses. I look at who is following them, and come up with one or two people, but I don’t know how to find people by location. So far I only have about 17 followers in this newest account and this list is growing very slowly compared to the more general Twitter accounts I have.

    I’m in the process of fine-tuning each account to attract certain groups. It’s not hard to find followers with the same interests, but finding them by the cities they live in has proved very difficult. I do use hash tags, so maybe I should just hope they find me.

  14. I always wondered what Twitter was all about. I didn’t ever want to do it. But I’ll be honest, I’ve been wanting to start an account for some time now but just didn’t know really what it was. Thank you for this post. It was extremely helpful.

  15. I barely use Twitter because I find it useless for my business. I guess it is because I really do not understand the social media site. I think that Facebook is better than Twitter because it is very simple to use.

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