You never give in. You have successfully overcome the onslaught of social media like a battle scarred pro. MySpace never appealed to you, Facebook is full of children, you think Google was fine before the + and Foursquare is a game you played when you were a child. Yet sitting with your morning coffee and cheerios, you have found yourself inescapably drawn to this world of blue birds and mentions. You log on and you can send a shout out to your favorite comedian. And they actually reply back. You are allowing yourself to follow and to be followed. In this myriad of information and technology however, it is quite easy to get a little lost. Fear not new tweeter, every bird must spread its wings and with a little guidance, you’ll get a handle on trending topics in no time.
Why don’t you start at the beginning then? You’re determined to become a part of this buzzing scene and it’s all going to start with a good name, or handle. Try to make your user name something fun and friendly or better yet, you could just use your name. It’ll make you recognizable seeing as how everyone already calls you by that. When Louis C.K. responds to your hilarious tweet you want to be sure he knows your name and that you are not just “phillybabe101” or something.
When you tweet something, it has to be within 140 characters. This makes life complicated, fun and exciting. Think of all you can say in 140 words or less: “I want Jimmy Neutron’s brain, Phineas and Ferb’s summer, and Timmy Turner’s goldfishes” or “Only one more drink and I’m done, I promise. #LiesThatNeverWork”.
Now, if you want to talk about something that is popular or “trending” you add a hashtag (#) to a keyword or phrase. If you were to click on the hashtag phrase from above, you’d be taken to a new page and any tweet with that same hashtag would appear. Hashtags help you follow what’s on everyone’s minds; they help you be seen by people with similar interests and vice versa. When you are on your main page, the right hand side of the screen will show you the latest trading topics and hashtags. You can also type in whatever word or phrase that happens to be on your mind in the search bar and anyone who has tweeted that will show up. So you could search “cheerios” and whoever has tweeted about this morning delight will appear. Twitter has a fabulous little video tutorial on their support page as well to help you overcome your anxiety over proper hashtag usage.
When you want to say something to one particular person, you include the @ with their name (which you now know is called a handle) and they will be able to see it. When your handle is tweeted it is called a mention. For example, if you wanted to say something to @BustedKat, you’d tweet something like this: “OMG @BustedKat, that was the best book ever!” The handle then becomes a link to @BustedKat’s profile and @BustedKat would be able to see this as a mention on their main page. Now remember, when you are writing to someone your tweets will always show up on your page. At first it will appear as though you’re just writing to yourself. If you use your @ symbol though, you’ll be able to reach the people you want.
The cool thing about Twitter is that you can take information that you read such as an article from Mashable or Cracked and share them with your followers. Often, websites will have little buttons that say, “share on Twitter”. When you click these buttons, that link will get shortened and posted to your Twitter page. This can be a vital tool for connecting to your audience. If you have good information on your page, people will want to read it. You don’t want to become part of the noise, so make sure that the articles that you post are genuinely interesting to you and useful to your followers. Not only are you able to re-post articles from websites, but if you see a tweet that you want to share with your followers, all you have to do is click on the retweet button. This posts the tweet on your page and also lets the original tweeter know that you have retweeted them.
You never give in. And it is that unique outlook on life and that fierce individualism that will allow you to stand out and be heard on Twitter. Use it and use it wisely. Twitter is your friend and like a good friend, if you get a little lost it can always point you back in the right direction with a handy little help center.