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Twitter – the basics

March 4, 2009

A year or two ago it was Facebook that had everyone talking, these days it’s Twitter. So what is it and what’s in it for you?

Twitter is a micro-blogging service which allows users (tweeters) to send updates (tweets) and read other users updates (tweeter’s tweets).

Getting started

The first thing you need to do is create an account. To do this you’ll need to come up with a username and password. Your username will form part of the URL for your Twitter feed and will be one way that people can find you on the site – you can also be found by email address and your real name (if you choose).

Once you’ve set up your account you have the option to find friends by email (if you have an account with Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL or MSN). Simply enter your email address and password and Twitter will bring up a list of any of your email contacts who already use Twitter. By selecting a contact/s from the list your account will automatically be linked to theirs so that you can follow their updates.

Now that you’ve created your account and found some friends all that remains is for you to post your first tweet.



Tweets are limited to 140 characters so don’t waste any words. As you type the counter in the top right corner will count down how many characters you have left.


To really get going with Twitter you’ll need to build yourself a community. You’ll want to follow people and have them follow you. Hopefully you were able to find some friends from your email contacts when you set up your account but you might also want to search for people by name.



As well as finding friends to follow by email address, username and real name, you can search Twitter to find out who is talking about topics that interest you.


Once you have started to build a community of followers you need to interact with them. You can do this publicly using the @reply feature and privately with direct messages.

To reply to a tweet using @reply click the arrow that appears on the right hand side of a tweet. This will automatically place @username in your tweet box and link whatever you type next to the tweet you clicked.

To send a direct message click the ‘Direct Messages’ link in your right hand menu. Then select who you want to send a message to from the drop-down list and type your message in the box.


You can customise your Twitter profile by clicking the ‘Settings’ link on the top right of your screen. Here you can edit the contents of your profile by adding your location, a one-line bio and linking to your website or blog.

You can also upload an avatar and change the design of your profile.

Whether you’re already using twitter (twittering) or are about to set of to create your account don’t forget you can follow me.


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