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What is Twitter?

Find out what Twitter is

Twitter is the ‘SMS of the Internet’ with Tweets and Direct Messaging.

Twitter is often called the SMS of the Internet because users are restricted to 140 characters per ‘Tweet’ or message. With an estimated 500,000,000 registered users, Twitter is the second largest social networking site; if measured by registered users, but with 140 million Tweets posted every single day world wide, it could be argued it generates the most traffic.

Used by celebrities, television shows and even politicians all over the world to connect with their fans and followers, Twitter is responsible for adding two new words into our everyday vocabulary – tweeting and hashtag.

This article on what Twitter is covers the following topics:

How to Create a Twitter Account.

Providing you have an email account and choose a unique ‘username’, you can create a Twitter account in minutes with these 8 steps.

  1. Visit Twitter at to ‘Join Twitter Today’. Enter your first and last name and a valid email address.
  2. Choose a password that contains letters and numbers; something easy for you to remember.
  3. Choose a ‘username’. It will be used to identify and find you on Twitter, so choose one that makes it easy for people to identify with you. Twitter will give you suggestions, but you can always make one up, as long as it has already been used before and is less than 15 characters long.
  4. Once you have read the terms and conditions, click on ‘Create My Account’.
  5. You will probably have to enter some characters to prove you are a real person; helps to avoid spam. You will then be sent a link via email to the address you gave. Click on the link to confirm your account.
  6. You now have a Twitter Account. Log in and follow the screens as Twitter takes you through the remaining set up procedures.
  7. Building your stream of ‘Tweets’ is about finding people you wish to ‘follow’.
    • Follow WWWThinkingIT to keep up to date with what we are doing, and articles we post.
    • Follow NigelBrookson to see what I am personally up to, plus the latest on the web
  8. Lastly to find people you may know, you can check to see if anyone in your email contacts list is on Twitter. If the email address is found you will be prompted to follow them.

Note: Just because you follow people, don’t expect they follow you. Some will, your friends and family probably will, but others wont unless you post regular, interesting tweets on a subject matter that interest them.

As one of the top 3 social networking sites for business, Twitter is used to communicate to potential customers and can help increase the number of repeat customers too.

How to Customise a Twitter Profile.

Personalise your Twitter Profile by adding an image, background and colour scheme with 4 steps.

  1. Click on your name at the top of the screen to view your profile options. Click ‘Edit Profile’
  2. The standard ‘avatar’ of an egg is used but you can change that by clicking ‘Change photo’ and upload a picture you have already prepared (250px x 250px in dimension).
    The image must be smaller in size than 700KB and can be JPEG, GIF or PNG format.
  3. Update your Bio; its what you would like others to see about you.
  4. Lastly you can either choose a profile colour theme from Twitter’s 20 pre existing themes, or you can customise the background, colours of links and boxes yourself.
    You can upload an image for the background or just choose a colour. You can then select colours for all the remaining options.

Note: Make it easy for people to read your Tweets by selecting contrasting colours.

How to Search on Twitter.

Searching on Twitter is easy. You can search for people or categories, even keywords using hashtags.

  • To Search for People: type the person’s name you are looking for in to the search box at the top of the screen on your Twitter Homepage. You can also search for people in the search box on the Connect Page.
  • To Search by Category: Click on the ‘Discover’ tab at the top of your screen, then browse through the categories on the left hand side. When you click on one, you will see all the people that are popular to follow.

What are Hashtags?

Twitter uses hashtags (#), to emphasis a word or phrase much like keywords you type into a search engine to find something.
There are some rules to observe when using hashtags. They are:

  1. Don’t use more than 2 hashtags in a single tweet, otherwise it will be considered ‘spam’.
  2. Hashtags should be relevant to your tweet.
  3. Hashtags contain no punctuation, spaces or symbols.
  4. Make sure there is a space before the #.
  5. Hashtags can not contain all letters, numbers and letters is OK though.

By clicking on a hashtag in a tweet, you will be taken to a list of tweets that have used that tweet. You can then click on the tweet to read it.

How to Use Twitter Lists.

Twitter defines lists as a group of Twitter users, allowing you to categorise tweets by a subject or user group. You can subscribe to lists or create your own. When viewing a list timeline, you will only see tweets from people on that particular list. Create a list in 4 steps:

  1. Go to the Lists Page from either the top navigation bar or via your Profile Page.
  2. Click ‘Create List’ and add a list name (max 25 characters) and list description (max 100 characters).
  3. Select whether you wish your list found and viewed publicly or privately.
  4. Save the list. You can add or remove people who have subscribed to your list at any time and also control who lists you by blocking the person who created the list.

Lists are a great way to create interest in a theme that become exclusive.

How to Send Direct Messages on Twitter.

Direct messages are not seen by anyone else apart from the recipient. They are like private messages, so are useful when contacting someone like you would send an SMS to someone on a mobile phone.
Note: you can only send a direct message to someone who is following you and you can only receive a direct message from people you follow. Direct messages are also limited to 140 characters, so get to the point of the message quickly.

How to Promote Your Twitter Profile.

Tips on how to promote your Twitter Profile to the world.

  1. Check you appear in Twitter Search. You will if you have entered in all of your details in the bio. You can also include keywords in your Twitter Bio that you wish to be found by.
  2. Just like posting on a website blog, you need to do it regularly and make tweets relevant to be found by people with similar interests to you.
  3. Promote your Twitter Username and url where ever you can. Include it in other social networking sites such as Facebook and Google Plus.
    If you have a website, make finding your Twitter Profile easy for visitors; you can even add different types of buttons that display the number of followers you have.
  4. Recommending a ‘Follow’ list lets you suggest a list of twitter accounts to new users on Twitter.

Link with Facebook.

If you regularly post the same articles or information to Twitter as you do to Facebook, doing it just once makes sense. If you have a website, you can have your articles posted to your Twitter and your Facebook Profile automatically, allowing you to focus on what you really need to be spending time on – writing great articles!

Twitter is just one of the top 10 social networking sites for business. Take a look at using some of the others on the list.

About Nigel Brookson

Website Designer, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur. Environmentalist. Follow me on
Twitter, plus me on Google+, like me on Facebook, visit me at Thinking IT.

What people have said:

  1. If you are having trouble setting up your Twitter Profile, or would like Twitter intergrated into your website, sending automatic tweets when you post an article, contact Thinking IT Website Designers.

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