Twitter Basics

This post is for my long time friend Liz. She blogs over here and is new to social media. She’s new to Twitter and still learning the ropes so I thought I’d give a few basics of the “how to” of Twitter. These are some of the tips I give my students in my classes too.

We all know you only have 140 characters to say what you want to say on Twitter. This means you need to be crafty and have the ability to articulate your point well.  One of my students noted the importance of such skills in our class blog. Some people think you can’t say intelligent things on Twitter because of the character limit, but I disagree.

Mostly I think people get hung up on all the Twitter lingo when they first start out so let’s start there….

@ – The “@” symbol is probably the most common symbol you’ll see. This signifies that you are commenting and/or conversing with another Twitter user directly. For example “@emuprssa love the latest blog post!” indicates that I’m speaking directly with the folks who Tweet at “emuprssa.” Messages that are Tweeted to users show up in their Twitter feed and in their “@” connections.

RT – This stands for “retweet.” When you RT a fellow Twitter users Tweet it’s like forwarding that Tweet to all the folks you follow. RTs help spread links to articles, blogs, newspapers, websites, journals… pretty much any and all information you want to share with others – even just a simple Tweet. It’s important you credit the person you are retweeting though. So for example, that would look like “RT via @eharrisondotorg “Check out the Peer-to-Peer Learning Handbook by @hrheingold & self-organizers with the project” If you simply click the retweet button then this will happen instantly. You can also favor Tweets now, which I like.

# – The hashtag! I love the hashtag. I think it’s overused quite a bit now, but if used properly I love it. The hashtag is meant to represent a group topic. When a Tweet is sent using a hashtag then it becomes searchable. Think #openingceremonies, #olympics2012, #TED, #SOPA. Like so many of us right now we are watching the 2012 Olympics. On Twitter you can search #olympics2012 to see what the Twitterverse is saying about the Olympics from the athletes to the events to what’s happening in London. I use hashtags (#PR312, #cc379, #sm379) in all my classes to hold online discussions, disseminate pertinent class information, and extend the classroom walls. I like that I can have conversations with my students at all times and they can have conversations with one another. The hashtag brings us together.

DM or D – This stand for “direct message.” Some Twitter users will use DM and others will simply use D. They both stand for the same thing. Similar to an email, nobody on your Twitter feed can see the message. You’ll still have to keep the message to 140 characters though.
Finally, another important tool for new Twitter users to know is URL shorteners. I personally like When you want to share a link the URL shortener allows you to shorten it. Remember you must maximize those 140 characters!
I think that just about sums up the basics. What else do you want to know?

  One thought on “Twitter Basics

  1. letstalkaboutlit
    July 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you so much, my dear! This clears up quite a bit. I noticing that hashtags are often used for comedic effect, too. Is there any unspoken Twitter etiquette? For example, is it common to thank new followers for the follow? I noticed that some do that. Is there any way to stop all the porn bots who follow? Also, I have this one “follower” who just seems to Tweet about how fabulous his followers are–like over and over in a FF style. I feel like somehow this is a scam of some sort. Are there any scams to look out for? Ok. Think I’m done for the moment at least. Thanks, doc! 😉

  2. July 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Hmmm… there really aren’t any hard and fast “rules.” Each person has their own

    To your point about people using hashtags for humor – this is what I meant in my post. I think hashtags are overused. If you want to properly use them then use them how they were intended. BTW, one I think you’d enjoy is #educhat. Search that.

    Yes, you should thank new followers. It’s a courtesy. Now do I think you should follow all people that follow you? Not necessarily. Some of my colleagues would disagree, but just because they find what you say to be pertinent does not mean you’ll find what they say to be pertinent. I’ll blog about PLNs in a future post to explain this more.

    Ahhhh the #FF… originally started to truly promote to others users you thought were worthy of following. Those who shared valuable information. A way to connect like minded individuals. Like the # this too is abused. #FF for me is akin to sweets. Only in moderation. Then one must remember “moderation in moderation.”

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