My apologies to the infamous ‘for Dummies’ series, but I rather like my audience and will not insult them in the title! This how to use Twitter guide will be for all the smarties out there who know how to use a computer, but who have yet to use Twitter.
I still recall how confused I was all those years ago when I first started. No one called me a dummy back then, and this how to use Twitter guide isn’t going to call you one either! Read on to find out how to use Twitter from your first moment signing up through to the moment when you’re a Twitter expert!
How to use Twitter: Let’s start at the beginning
You first step is to sign up. Go to www.Twitter.com. On the homepage you’ll see the signup box:
Enter your information, as I did for New User with the email address [email protected] Create a unique password for the platform to prevent hacking attempts. Click that yellow ‘Sign up for Twitter’ button and you’ll be taken to a verification screen:
You’ll have a chance now to choose your username. It will start with @. Twitter gives you some suggestion as you’ll see, but you’re free to pink whichever name you want. I’d recommend something that is as short as possible to make it easier on people trying to type your name with their thumbs.
Alright, you’re officially on Twitter! Now, how to use Twitter with your fresh account ready to go…
How to use Twitter: Building your Timeline
The entire point of Twitter is to have a Timeline, a feed of tweets sent by people you are interested in and ‘following.’ The other important aspect of Twitter is to have people follow you and for your tweets to appear in their Timeline.
The Timeline itself is a constantly updating feed of messages from those you follow, and those they are retweeting. A retweet is when one Twitter user shares the tweet of another. The Timeline starts at the top with the most recent tweet and works down from there. Here’s what that damn dirty ape, the @Devumi Gorilla, had on his Timeline just now:
Right after you sign up Twitter wants to help you build your Timeline. They’ll give you the chance to follow celebrities in the worlds of TV, music and film, sports stars, news organizations, and horrible people who shouldn’t be famous at all – like Donald Trump.
You can also use the search bar to look for your friends, or that celebrity you love who just isn’t listed in their suggestions – like Alfonso Ribeiro. He played Carlton Banks…on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. If you don’t know that show you may no longer consider yourself a smartie. 😉
You can also import contacts from your email and follow friends who are already on Twitter. This can be a quick way to dive into Twitter with people you really know, not just famous people who you won’t really interact with you much.
At this stage you should have a few people you’re following who you will find interesting. This is the beginning of your Timeline. Now it’s time to work on you!
How to use Twitter: Who are you, anyway?
Twitter is going to ask you to upload an image for your profile thumbnail. This is the image that everyone is going to see when you send out tweets. Here’s that ugly Gorilla again:
That image on the left of the text is what you’re looking to upload now. As you can see, it’s pretty small. You have a maximum of 700k to use, but be sure to use it wisely. Now enter a short bio about yourself that will quickly give people and idea of why they would want to follow you. 160 characters is the limit.
You’re now a 100% ready Twitter user; it’s time to start tweeting. But hold on, there are some rules, etiquette, and quirks to consider first.
How to use Twitter: How to tweet and get followed
At this point you’re all ready to get out there and tweet, find your first followers, and enjoy Twitter. But…how do you do that? What do you tweet? How do you actually use Twitter?
The first thing you’re going to do is send out your first tweet. It doesn’t have to be memorable. Just get started by entering some text in the box on your homepage, it’s right in the middle of the screen and looks like this:
Sorry, ugly gorilla again. Enter some text, or add an image, and push the ‘Tweet’ button. The thing to remember though is that Twitter has an infamous 140 character limit imposed. Get your tweet under that limit and there you go, your first tweet!
Need some inspiration? Here are some first tweets from famous people:
Fine…you got me.
— Drizzy (@Drake) March 28, 2009
I'm getting started on twitter….
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) December 4, 2008
dropping my first tweet
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) January 16, 2009
I don't tweet all that much, please check out my live journal page. 😉 #myfirstTweet
— George RR Martin (@GRRMspeaking) June 9, 2014
As you can see, you don’t need to worry about what your first tweet is. Even these people, with entire PR departments behind them, couldn’t manage to tweet something that was interesting!
You next step is getting more Twitter followers. When you’re new, getting your first few Twitter followers, beyond your mom and a few close friends, is next to impossible. This is due to your low social proof – no one wants to follow someone who doesn’t have friends. Many new Twitter accounts turn to our Twitter follower service to get their numbers of quickly so that they’re better able to attract natural followers in the future.
Now that you have some followers, and are looking like a Twitter user who knows what they’re doing, it’s time to look at some of the finer points of how to use Twitter:
- What a hashtag is: By now, you’ve seen someone use a #hashtag on social media. It is a symbol that is used to link conversation. For instance, the @Devumi Gorilla can send out a tweet with the hashtag #socialmediamarketing. The hashtag becomes a link that you can click on. Clicking on it brings up all tweets with that hashtag in them as well. Think of it as a way to join in on a larger conversation. This is a great way to get followers. Lear more about business and marketing tweeting at the link.
- How Mentions and Replies work: Mentions, or MTs, are when another twitter user mentions you by your @username. You can then reply to them by clicking the arrow on the bottom left of the tweet. You don’t have to wait for someone to Mention you, you can reply to any tweet you find by pushing the same button on tweets you see in your Timeline. If you want to mention someone you’re free to use their @username when you send out a tweet of your own. Be aware that if you start a tweet with a @username that tweet will only be visible to them, it won’t go out into the Twitter feeds of others. Use a period or comma at the beginning if you want everyone to see it like this: [email protected] how’s it going, eh?
- What are retweets: A retweet is used when you see a tweet from another user and you want to share it with your followers. It’s a way to quickly share information. All you have to do is click the button in the middle of a tweet that is two arrows arranged in circle.
- What’s the point of Favorites: People use favorites to show appreciation for a tweet, but that aren’t quite right for them to retweet or reply to. They help Twitter user’s account look lively, and are why our Auto Engagements service is so popular. A popular account is a followed account!
- How to use Direct Messages: These are private messages sent between you and another user. You will see an icon of an envelope with the word ‘Messages’ next to it along the top of your Twitter homepage. Click on it to bring up the window of all your messages. Click on ‘New Message’ to start writing. You can only send a Direct Message to someone who follows you. This cuts down on spam.
There you go! You now know how to use Twitter. Take a look through our other Twitter marketing articles if you’re looking to market yourself or brand over Twitter, and follow that @Devumi Gorilla for updates on social media all day. Tell him Matthew you sent you and he’ll likely insult me…
How to Use Twitter—for Smarties—in 2017
- Once you’ve set up your Twitter account, following the step-by-step process on the site, you can quickly start to build your following and social proof. Right after you sign up Twitter wants to help you build your Timeline. They’ll give you the chance to follow celebrities, sports stars, news organizations, and political leaders.
- You can also use the search bar to look for your friends and import contacts from your email and follow friends who are already on Twitter. This can be a quick way to dive into Twitter with people you really know, not just famous people who you won’t really interact with you much.This is the beginning of your Timeline. Now it’s time to work on you!
- That image on the left of the text is what you’re looking to upload now. As you can see, it’s pretty small. You have a maximum of 700k to use, but be sure to use it wisely. Now enter a short bio about yourself that will quickly give people an idea of why they would want to follow you. Here, 160 characters is the limit. You’re now a 100% ready Twitter user; it’s time to start tweeting.
- The first thing you’re going to do is send out your first tweet. It doesn’t have to be memorable. Just get started by entering some text—140 characters max—in the box on your homepage. You don’t need to worry about how scintillating your first tweet is, just get started.
- You next step is getting more Twitter followers. When you’re new, getting your first few Twitter followers, beyond your best friends, is next to impossible. This is due to your low social proof—no one wants to follow someone who doesn’t have friends. Many new Twitter accounts turn to our Twitter follower service to get their numbers of quickly so that they’re better able to attract natural followers in the future.
Feature image credit to graphic line / Shutterstock