As a Digital Eagle I am inspired to help people with technology. This help may be via my awesome website , Code Club or in person. Today I completed what I’m going to call my first act as a Digital Eagle, and that was to introduce a local resident to the social media network of Twitter.
I’ve decided to create a quick guide to Twitter to assist people that are new to tweeting.
Before I continue, remember – think twice before you post anything online. It is easy to post information but hard to remove it, and once something is on Twitter it is (generally) available to anyone online. Tweets cannot be edited once published. Also, double check anything you read online before taking it as a fact, i.e. just because someone tweets that sky is purple, it does not make the sky purple.
Signing up for Twitter
Visit www.twitter.com to sign up for Twitter, or use your smart phones app store to download the official Twitter app and sign up via the app. Signing up requires a valid e-mail address or phone number. During the signing up process Twitter will ask you to create a username.
This is what you will be known as on Twitter. When creating a username you should consider if you want to be anonymous or want your tweets (posts) to be from your real name or a brand that you are representing. It’s your choice, but remember the name you want may already be in use by someone else!
During the set up process Twitter will ask if you want to be found by your e-mail address or phone number, and if you want to import your contacts. Again, this is your choice – allowing these options will make it easier to find you which depends if you want to be found by people that already have some of your details.
Twitter will also ask you if you want your location on your tweets. Personally I leave my location as UK as most of the stuff I tweet is not location relevant.
With the sign up / account creation complete it is time to start tweeting and following others on Twitter.
Do I need a picture?
Only if you want to. Twitter doesn’t force you to have profile photo, and it is up to you how much you share (or don’t share) on Twitter.
Use the Search box (or magnifying glass) to search for people you may want to follow, click their profile page and press follow (to unfollow them simply hover the mouse pointer over Following and then click unfollow, or on the app just click unfollow).
By following someone you will see their tweets (posts) in your feed without having to search for them again.
You may notice that some user profiles have a blue tick next to their name like this:
The blue tick indicates that the account has been validated by Twitter, and that the account represents the name it is attached to. This is mainly used by brands, companies or famous people to try and stop others from pretending to be them on Twitter.
I’m on Twitter, what now?
It’s time to tweet! Tweeting is another name for posting (or publishing) a message online for others to see. At one time Twitter had a 140 character limit to its messages, this has been updated to 280 characters. A character is a letter, number, space….basically anything you can press on a keyboard!
When composing your tweet make sure to be to the point, and always double check your message before posting. Remember it is very easy to misconstrue / misread a message and get the wrong idea, so try not to be vague in your tweet.
For example “help @twitter” could be taken to mean “@twitter needs help” but can also be taken to mean “@twitter is being asked to help”.
To mention another Twitter user in your tweet type the @ sign followed by the Twitter username (for example, to mention me type @geektechstuff). Multiple usernames can be used in a tweet, just make sure only to mention usernames when the message is relevant to them.
Others may become interested in what you are tweeting and want to follow your tweets, to do this they will follow you.
What about hashtags ( #)?
If you have a keyword, or key phrase in your message then place a # in front of it. This makes it easier for other users to search for the keyword/key phrase and then possibly find your message. If enough users are tweeting the same hashtag (#) then it may become a trend and get seen by even more users.
Examples of hashtags:
What’s a reply?
The speech bubble allows you to reply to another tweet, if it is your tweet and the reply has a number next to it then this means that another Twitter user has replied back to your tweet.
What’s a retweet?
The double arrows allow you to retweet another users tweet. A retweet is a method to share another users tweet with your followers. Make sure you agree with what the tweet says retweeting though, after all you are sharing its message with your followers.
The number next to the double arrows tells you how many times a tweet has been retweeted.
What’s the heart for?
The heart is used to favourite a tweet. This can be used to say “I like that tweet”. Again, the number next to the heart indicates how many times a tweet has been liked.
What’s a direct message?
Direct messages are messages between 2 twitter users (and recorded by Twitter). It is used mainly to discuss private topics.
When ever another Twitter user mentions your @ name, retweets one of your tweets, favourites one of your tweets, replies to one of your tweets or direct messages you, Twitter will send you a notification of the event.
Trolls and spam bots
Sadly trolls and spam bots exist on Twitter (and other social media networks). A troll is someone that is looking to cause hurt or pain by posting nasty tweets, calling other people horrible names or bullying people. If a Twitter account starts to troll you, then block the account . Do not reply to the troll, this is known as “feeding the troll” and generally just encourages them to troll more. If the trolling/bullying continues then please visit https://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/what-is-cyberbullying/ for guidance.
Spam bots are generally Twitter accounts set up just to send rubbish tweets trying to sell merchandise/services or scam users out of money – a lot like cold calls to your phone number. If one starts to follow you or tweet you either ignore it or block it. Twitter does remove spam bot accounts if they find them.