Beginners Guide to Twitter
It’s a platform wherein users share their thoughts, news, information and jokes in 140 characters of text or less.
Twitter makes global communication cheap and measurable. Profiles are (usually) public — anyone in the world can see what you write, unless you elect to make your profile private. Users “follow” each other in order to keep tabs on and converse with specific people.
On Twitter, following someone is not necessarily an admission of friendship, but nonetheless affords interaction and conversation — at least in short bursts.
The first step is to understand and master the vernacular. There are certain words and jargon native to Twitter that you may already have heard in passing. These terms and their abbreviations (in parentheses) are essential for understanding the network.
- Tweet: A 140-character message.
- Retweet (RT): Re-sharing or giving credit to someone else’s tweet.
- Feed: The stream of tweets you see on your homepage. It’s comprised of updates from users you follow.
- Handle: Your username.
- Mention (@): A way to reference another user by his username in a tweet (e.g. @adamuabu). Users are notified when @mentioned. It’s a way to conduct discussions with other users in a public realm.
- Direct Message (DM): A private, 140-character message between two people. You can decide whether to accept a Direct Message from any Twitter user, or only from users you are following.
You may only DM a user who follows you.
- Hashtag (#): A way to denote a topic of conversation or participate in a larger linked discussion (e.g. #Nigeria, #BringBackOurGirls). A hashtag is a discovery tool that allows others to find your tweets, based on topics. You can also click on a hashtag to see all the tweets that mention it in real time — even from people you don’t follow
- Self Retweet: Formerly, you can only retweet the tweet of others, Twitter just introduced the self retweet where you can retweet your own tweet.