Twitter basics


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An introduction to Twitter for absolute beginners

Updated: March 20, 2012

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Twitter basics

  1. 1. Twitter Basics 1) The Interface and Profile 2) Tweeting and URL Shorteners 3) Following 4) @ Mentions 5) Retweets 6) Hashtags 7) Search
  2. 2. What is Twitter?• “Microblogging” – short updates of 140 characters of less• A place where people share information and build networks• A great space to catch new stories, find new angles, and get new sources “The audience isn’t on Twitter, but the news is on Twitter” The Economist, 7/7/11
  3. 3. Common ComplaintsThere’s too much information – I can’t read all of it!You shouldn’t try to consume all of it – Twitter is based on browsing and scanning, not reading cover to cover.People are talking about mundane things like what they had for lunch – I don’t care!Yes, some people do, but you won’t follow those people, and you’ll scan right over messages like that.But how is this journalism?Twitter is a tool, just like your rolodex, your telephone, or your morning newspaper – using it correctly should aid your reporting.
  4. 4. So let’s get into it… First thing’s first: On agency computers, access Twitter using Firefox or Google Chrome, NOT Internet Explorer
  5. 5. Home: Shows the most recent tweets from everyone you’re following
  6. 6. Profile: ncludes your name, location, short bio, website ake sure you input a bio and a photoA profile page also shows your recent tweets, who you follow, who follows you,lists you’ve created and lists you’re on. People will use that information toevaluate you (and you can use it to evaluate others).
  7. 7. But what do I DO?
  8. 8. Tweeting: The Basic Function Type your tweets in the “Compose new tweet” box.You get 140 characters, and it will count down so you know how many characters youhave left. If you copy/paste a long link, Twitter will automatically shorten it for you toconserve characters.Click “Tweet” to send your tweet.
  9. 9. Where a tweet goes:To anyone who follows youThe same way your Twitter stream shows tweets from thepeople YOU follow, everyone else’s Twitter stream showstweets from the people THEY follow. Your tweet has thepotential to be seen by any of your followers.*Into the public Twitter universeYour tweets are visible on your profile page and can be foundthrough search. Anything you say on Twitter is publiclyavailable. *Sending a tweet does not guarantee it will be seen by all (or any) of your followers. Only a percentage of your followers will be paying attention to their Twitter stream at any given time.
  10. 10. Following: The Heart of Twitter The follow button is accessible on a user’s profile page, or if you click on their name in your timelineThe people you follow are the people whose tweets show up in your timeline.Following is NOT reciprocal. If you follow someone, you see all their tweets. Theydo not see all your tweets unless they follow you back.Users typically ARE informed when you follow them, but are not informed if you“unfollow” them later (so it’s okay to continuously refine who you follow).
  11. 11. @Mentions: ConversationsIncluding @username in a tweet is the proper way to:1) Have a conversation withsomeoneYes, these “conversations” are public – there isa different way to send private messages if youneed to2) Give credit to your sourceAlways cite your sources when you can – it’sjournalistically ethical and good Twitteretiquette3) Talk about or referencesomeone/somethingDoing this “pings” the person you’re talkingabout, so they are more likely to see yourtweet
  12. 12. Make sure you’re checking to see who’s@mentioned you!
  13. 13. @Mentions: One NuanceAlthough conversations with @mentions are public and will be seen on your publicprofile, they don’t necessarily show up in your followers’ streams.Two cases:2)Your tweet begins with @username*This tweet will only appear in the timeline of someone who follows both you and theperson you’re talking to.2) Your tweet includes @username somewhere other than the beginningThis tweet will appear in the timeline of anyone who follows you, regardless ofwhether they follow the person you’re talking to. * If you want to begin your tweet with @username but still want it to show up in everyone’s stream, use .@username instead.
  14. 14. Retweets: Forwarding a Tweet RT = RetweetIt means you’re forwarding someone else’s tweet to your followers. You might do thisif their tweet was: informative, interesting, funny, useful. You can add your own commentary to the front of the tweet and make small tweaks to conserve characters, but do not substantially alter the content of the original tweet.
  15. 15. Two RT Variations1) The Built-in RTTwitter lets you push theoriginal tweet, from its originalsender, to your followers. Put your cursor over any tweet to see this option.2) The MT (Modified Retweet)Used when you have madesubstantive changes to theoriginal tweet, usuallybecause it was too long.
  16. 16. Is a RT an Endorsement?This is an ongoing debate on Twitter, and you will often see people say in their profilethat a RT ≠ an endorsement.No, a RT is not an endorsement, but your credibility is a big part of your social capital(and a big part of your job as a journalist).If you disagree with something or are RT-ing unconfirmed information, add somecommentary to explain why.
  17. 17. Hashtags: Group ChatHashtags (#tag) are used to group tweets about a certain subject so they are easier tofind. You’ll often see them used for: Events Topics Memes Humor
  18. 18. Use Hashtags as a Search ToolClicking on a hashtag automatically does a Twitter search for that hashtag so you cansee all the tweets being tagged.Use hashtags inyour own tweetsto make themmore findable.
  19. 19. Search: Find Tweets, People You can search for tweets, Twitter users and media by keyword.Toggle between “Top” and “All” to see what the most important Twitterusers are saying and what everyone is saying.
  20. 20. Ready for more?Check out “Making Twitter Your Newswire”