Have you noticed how many news articles are sourcing information from tweets? Twitter is generating news at a rapid rate, and keeping up may involve reading tweets directly from their source. For those joining Twitter just to keep up with the news, here are a few pointers for setting up your first Twitter account.
Create an account
Head to Twitter.com and sign up. It only takes a name, email address and password to get started. Usernames (the characters behind the “@” sign) can be changed at any time so don’t feel too stressed about the specific username you choose. New accounts can also be created from the Twitter app.
Edit your profile
Uploading an image and writing a short description on your Twitter profile adds some legitimacy to your account. I rarely follow back unless I see a short description of that person or organization, along with a reputable photo or logo.
Now that you’re on Twitter, you can read what people are tweeting. Navigate to specific users by searching for them by name from the search icon, or follow them directly so their tweets show up in your stream. Following people may prompt them to follow you back. The more you follow, the more your follower and following count will increase.
Search topics of interest
Use the search icon to type in keywords and topics you’d like to research. Maybe there is a #hashtag for a specific event. This past weekend, for example, there were two very popular hashtags: #inaguration and #womensmarch. Searching these hashtags will pull up a live stream of everyone who is tweeting on the topic.
Send a tweet
Ready to tweet? Think of what you’d like to say in 140 characters or less. Compose a tweet by selecting the top right tweet button (which looks like a white quill on a blue square) and type a message into the text window. It’s possible to use icons in the text box to add an image or even an emoji. If you’d like a specific person to get notified about your tweet, include their @username in the tweet. Linking to an article? Add the hyperlink into your tweet.
Reply – retweet – converse
Twitter can be conversational with replies and retweets. Replying to a tweet with the arrow icon will automatically place their @username at the beginning of your tweet. This mention will send that person a notification. When they see the notification, they can continue the conversation by replying back to you. Likewise, if you retweet someone’s tweet, they will also be notified. Replies and retweets generate notifications, linking people together through the public stream.
Checking notifications is my first step when logging into Twitter. Check notifications by clicking the bell icon at the top of the screen. You will see who has followed you (so you can follow back), and who has liked, mentioned or retweeted you.
Not all tweets need a reply or retweet. There are so many tweets in a Twitter stream that replying to everything may feel spammy. Liking a tweet is a great way to show support without spamming your stream. Likes will show up in the tweeter’s notifications, so it’s a good way to connect without being too obvious.
I hope this overview helps you feel more comfortable about sending your first tweet. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any further tips or questions. Good luck, and welcome to Twitter!
Photo credit [Flickr creative commons]