As before I shall attempt to address a few questions before launching into this new help sheet which not only covers New Twitter but also how to get started on Twitter, right from the very beginning, actually creating a new account. I intend on tackling the question of apps and other Twitter platforms later. This helpsheet will only be for the web. On my main account I currently use old Twitter on the web but I use Twitter for Blackberry and Twhirl by Seesmic more frequently than the web version.
As before I would like to state that this help sheet has been designed and created wholly by me. It is not endorsed by Twitter in any way. However, if you like the help sheet and find it useful please comment at the bottom. Anonymous comments will be screened so do not worry if you can't see your comment after you've posted it.
If you're reading this you've probably heard of Twitter but either don't quite know what it is or haven't joined yet or have joined but aren't entirely sure why you joined and don't know how to use Twitter.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is the newest Social Networking craze, asking you one question: What's happening? However, it's not just for random people like me. Used in the correct way Twitter can enhance your business or public profile. Twitter can also be a great problem solving tool. Sometimes you can tweet what's on your mind and talk into the abyss but other times the abyss talks back. You can find likeminded people to talk to or meet new people who know different things and thus learn more or ask a question you need help with and get the collective knowledge of Twitter helping you out.
How can I get the most out of Twitter?
Think carefully about your screenname and try and get a good balance between tweets. For personal accounts try to get a balance between serious and random tweets. While random tweets may be funny, everyone gets annoyed with them if they continue for too long or get too samey. Equally with serious tweets we don't want to see the same whiney tweets popping up all the time.
The same rules can be applied to business accounts [it would be appropriate to mention now that you can't get a 'business account' as such on Twitter but you can choose to use your account to promote your business]. While we want to know what your business is doing we don't want to see the same tweets again and again. We want to see something different, something interesting. Also talk to us, don't just talk at us. The key to Twitter is conversation. The right conversations can really endear you to people or businesses but the wrong ones will drive people away.
What is a screenname?
This is your online name that you'll be known by. One of mine is ladyofsalzburg (yes there is a backstory to this) which has now become synonymous with me. You can have as many screennames as you like across the internet but the more you have the harder it makes for you to be tracked (sometimes this is a good thing!). Your screenname is you, so whatever you choose make it something you're happy with. You are able to change your screenname on Twitter but it's not advisable to do this too often.
I like this Twitter malarky. How do I get started?
Your homescreen [www.twitter.com] will look something like this. Fairly simple to get started from here but I'll talk you through anyway.
Ready to take the jump and register to Twitter? Put some details into the 'New to Twitter' box. You can change all of this later so it doesn't really matter what you put down now (I think I just leaned on the keyboard for the password in this bit!). You will however need a valid email address to use Twitter so make sure you have one you're happy with then go ahead and put your details in.
When you've clicked 'sign up' you'll be redirected to another page which will look something like this. Here is where you can choose your account name. Think carefully about what you'd like but be warned, with so many users on Twitter now you may have to alter what you'd like. Twitter will give you suggestions about what you could have but on the whole they aren't very catchy!
Once you've decided on a suitable, available screenname and clicked 'create account' you'll be faced with a page that looks a little like this one.
This is fairly self explanatory but if you're looking at your screen and shouting obscenities because you're completely confused, never fear! I will be tackling this in just a moment!
Around this time you are likely to get an email asking you to confirm your Twitter account. Most of the time when you click the link it will just open up a new window and confirm you've now confirmed your email address/account. Every so often (or on certain web browsers, I'm not sure yet) it doesn't actually do this. If this happens you'll probably end up with a popup similar to this:
Do not panic. 9 times out of 10 you will receive another email saying 'Welcome to Twitter' and your account will all be fine (if you refresh the page after the email the heading will go). If it doesn't go you may need to click the link again or try changing browsers. It will be sorted, even if it takes a little while.
When everything's sorted your page will look the same but without the notification bar at the top. You are now ready to start following users and finding friends.
What's this friends/following bit?
This is one of the most important parts of Twitter. Following people. It's not as stalkerish as it sounds, it's just a way of communicating with people. The people you follow are likely to be the people you want to keep in contact with. If they are 'normal' users then you may start talking to them and become friends but some accounts are only on Twitter for information purposes so you may still want to follow them to keep up to date with what's happening.
You can follow whoever you like to follow and certain people might follow you back if they like talking to you or want to keep up to date with what you're doing. This is how you get your following:followers count. When you first join Twitter your following:followers ratio will be weighted towards those you are following. When you've become a little more established this may switch.
How do you choose who to follow? That's up to you. I'm going to show you a few ways you can get started. First click on the 'Who to Follow' tab. You'll see this page looks very similar to the first page you saw after joining Twitter.
This section has opened up on 'browse interests' and shows a list of users with various interests. Some of these topics may interest you. If you don't know anyone on Twitter then some of these people are good to follow to get started. Have a scroll down the page or look at the links to find something that interests you then click on it. [If the page does not automatically load as this please click on the browse interests link.]
For ease I have chosen the Art and Design topic (mostly because I really love the name Guggenheim...)
As you can see there's now a list of users who like Art and Design so I can scroll up and down to find users who interest me.
Click on any of the users who interest you. I'm going to click on Guggenheim because I like the name.
When you click on a user on New Twitter it brings up their profile on the right hand side of the screen. I want to follow Guggenheim so I click on the Follow button (either on their profile or on their shortened profile in the list). This turns the button green to show that you're now following them. Their tweets will now pop up on your home timeline.
Another way of following users is through the 'Find Friends' option.
Click on this and you bring up several options. For this I will focus on the 'search for users' option as the rest of them you put in your email address/log in and password and it will connect with the program and tell you which of your friends/contacts are on Twitter (normally with that email address). You should then be able to click follow, as before, and follow any users you wish to follow.
For now we will search for a particular user. This is most helpful when you know someone's screenname but they have used a different email address or have hidden their email address. [This is an option under profile when we edit profiles].
The user I am going to search for is myself on my original account.
Quite easily just type the screenname or full name into the search bar and press search or the enter button on your keyboard.
Because I am unique only I pop up on this search but not all searches will be as easy as this.
As before to check the larger profile click on the name and it will pop up on the right hand side of the screen.
I've chosen to follow myself and have clicked the follow button. Like the Guggenheim one this has now also gone green. However, should I decide I don't want to follow myself I can easily unfollow. Hovering over the button makes it turn red again and to unfollow I would have to click the button when it's red. If I unfollow a user it will remove all of their tweets from my timeline. [Note: if you do not want a user to follow you, you must use the block button or choose protected tweets so you have to approve all followers. This is not advisable when you are new to Twitter as it makes it harder to participate in the social network.]
You will also notice that on the right hand side I have a summary of my Twitter useage. This is currently telling me who I have followed recently because it is my latest activity. When I am more acquainted with Twitter it will also tell me how many tweets I have, what my latest tweet was and who my followers are.
If I return to my homepage now it will look something like this:
The tweets from the two users I am following show in the panel.
This is all very boring though. Twitter is about conversation so how do we take the next step?
Join the Conversation
Let's get started tweeting. There are two ways you can tweet: say what you want straight off or respond to someone you're following. As we've just started following some people we'll go through that first (which is very helpful when you don't know what to say as yourself).
To start replying you'll first need to find the reply button. You can find this by hovering your mouse over the tweet you want to reply to.
You can see the options Favourite, Retweet and Reply listed there, click reply.
It will automatically bring up a popup box as below
Then just type what you want into the box and press 'tweet' when you're done. Remember that you need to keep below 140 characters so keep your message short and sweet. The counter will count down as you type.
Your tweet will now appear on the timeline (and on your profile timeline)
If you want to see the conversation that's taken place then click the speech bubble button shown at the side. It will show the conversation on the right hand side of the screen.
By this time you've probably also noticed the 'What's Happening?' box at the top of the page. You can also write 'normal' tweets in this box. Click in the box then type away as normal. The 'tweet' button will appear at the bottom of the box so you can click this to send your tweet.
Congratulations! You've now discovered the very basics of Twitter. I hope you've found this useful. I'll cover more, including personalising Twitter, in the next sheet.