how to get started on twitter

if you’re starting a blog or trying to up your presence in a given sector, then Twitter is the ultimate tool to help you do that.  It’s amazing what the simplest of social platforms can do for you, all in 140 characters a time. however, there is a lot of tweet-jargon that can be tricky to get your head around, so here are some little tips and tricks to help you get started:

  1. don’t be disheartened if you have very few followers, everyone starts somewhere – just keep going, if you’re interesting, unique and genuine people will pick up on this and follow you
  2. even Twitter recognises it’s tricky to get your head around so they created an official glossary. bookmark it.
  3. if you start a tweet with @username, it’s a reply. And will only be seen by the person you replied to and people who are following both of you. Nobody else will see it in their stream (although it will show up on your profile page and in Twitter search).
  4. if you tag a username anywhere but at the start of the tweet, everybody following you will see that message. This is called a mention. It’s important to quickly learn the difference between this and a reply, as above. (some people have been using Twitter for years and still don’t know how this works)
  5. don’t run before you can walk – set up your account, follow some friends and some people you admire and watch their ‘twitter behaviour’ – and read our piece on how to lose followers and annoy people to make sure you don’t turn into a bore or overdo it
  6. the maximum number of characters in a tweet is 140 but you should quickly get into the mentality of leaving 20 characters free – that is, tweeting to a maximum of 120 characters – to leave plenty of space for people to retweet you.
  7. when you post a link, Twitter usually shortens it to 10 characters for you – and if you see a tweet with bit.ly or tinyurl.co they are totally safe to click on, its just the name of a program people use to shorten some links.
  8. you don’t have to follow people back. You’re under no obligation to follow anybody. Twitter doesn’t work unless you’re careful to only follow people who are right for YOU…
  9. you can only send a direct message to somebody if they are following you, and vice versa. (Note: you don’t have to both be following each other. Direct messages can be very one-way, i.e., celebrities and their millions of fans.) this is done to protect people from being bombarded with spam.
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