social media

A beginner’s guide: seven tips on using Twitter

Garrett Heath Twitter.jpg
Written by Lucyacton
In recent years, the world has become obsessed with Twitter, using it as news sources, to follow celebrities and to keep in touch with friends and family.

In recent years, the world has become obsessed with Twitter, using it as news sources, to follow celebrities and to keep in touch with friends and family. However whilst the concept of this social networking site may seem simple, keeping your post to 140 characters, “retweeting”, and “favouriting” can be alien to some people. But fear not, below is a list of tips that will make Twitter seem like a breeze.
1. Bio
Your bio is there to impress so write something interesting rather than something silly. Stick with your real name and a little bit about you, adding your website if you have one.
2. Following
Who to follow and how many people to follow can also be confusing, as well as the added etiquette of “I’m not following them, they don’t follow me”. You can search for your interests and follow celebrities, career industries and friends. I would recommend not following over 1000 accounts, as your timeline will be busier than 6am on a sale day at Next…
3. Frequency of tweets
Don’t worry, it’s fine not to tweet every five minutes. When I first started out, I was astonished about how often some people tweet. “Fancy pizza”, “Ordered pizza”, “Pizza’s here”, “Pizza was yum”, “Food baby”… However, get the balance right: don’t be one of those people who hasn’t tweeted since March 2012, as you will lose followers.
4. Hashtagging
Hashtags allow you to connect  with everyone on Twitter using a certain keyword, putting a “#” in front of it. So instead of following individuals you can follow these words, such as #beyonce, #cherylcole, or #xfactor. You can simply click on the hashtag in your Twitter stream and see all the people mentioning the same keyword.  
5. Mentions
One thing that people frequently don’t understand is how to use “mentions”. The most important part here is that if you start a tweet with a @username, then only the person following you and the person you are replying to will see the tweet. You can even be brave and mention more than one person, starting a group conversation. Swanky, right?
6. Privacy
Maintain your privacy, especially if you are job hunting or looking for a high-end career. Simply give your Twitter account private settings, meaning that you will have to accept someone when they want to follow you, your tweets cannot be retweeted, and your boss won’t see your tweets about being sick down an alley last night. Saves both you and them the embarrassment.
7. Think smart
Finally, be careful what you say: once it’s out there, it’s out there. So before you go slagging off that celebrity, or secretly direct message that girl who bitched about you at school, just remember that it could come back to haunt you…
Follow these tips and you’re sure to understand Twitter and enjoy it at the same time. Take it slow at first, and you’ll soon get the hang of it. It’s often one of those things that you understand more as time goes on – and sooner rather than later, I have the feeling that there will be another social networking site taking over our lives anyway.
Photo: Garrett Heath / Flickr