Surviving Twitter

With the recent mass adaptation of Twitter in my immediate surroundings, it has been suggested by people who aren’t yet on it that it would be rather nice to have some kind of guide to Twitter etiquette for those who are new to it.

I’ve been tweeting for around a year and although I’ve learned a lot about how to make the most of this continually evolving social network tool, I still remember how bewildering it all was when I first took the plunge.

So here’s a guide for those who want to join in.

I’m assuming you’ve already logged in or you’ve joined twitter (go to and join from there), then you’ll see similar screens to the ones below, albeit with different background colours.

OK, so what is it?

Twitter is, essentially, a micro-blog, or a mini online diary. You can type the answer to “What Are You Doing?” in 140 characters or less as frequently as you like, a bit like your facebook status. 



If you keep updating (but not too often!) you’ll end up with a profile that looks a bit like the page below –  a list of your updates.

This is what other people will see when they go to your twitter page.


You can see what other people are writing by “following” them.  Their updates (or “tweets”) will come up on your Home area in chronological order.



Other people can follow your updates – they are called (predictably) your “followers”. You can see how many followers you have underneath your profile picture.


To follow someone, find them on twitter while you’re logged in, then click “follow”. Their updates will now appear in your stream.



Once you’ve joined up, it’s good to find people to follow – good places to start are , and of course (if you want to see what I get up to!)


Tweet Notes

1. There aren’t really many rules about frequency or content when you tweet, but be aware if you are doing 20 updates a day, people might be less inclined to follow you as it will bung up their timeline and stop them seeing their other updates.  I try and tweet between 0 and 5 times a day – with a ratio of (I hope) 80% interesting to 20% pointless, ranging from random thoughts through to music tech and hyperlinks.

2. Engage with your followers! if someone asks you a question, reply to them with an @ symbol in front of their name, (like this: @ljrich ) – this tweet will come up in their “replies” section and not get lost in the stream. 

Using the @ in front is the way to make someone’s twitter name clickable. 

You can also “Retweet”, which is effectively to forward someone else’s tweet, normally with a view to helping them get answers, or to disseminate information.  The usage is to add “RT” at the beginning of your retweet – for example:

What are you doing?

RT @ljrich how do you use twitter? I’d love to hear from you.

3. Twitter Hashtags: You can tag your own tweets so they can appear in “filters” – for example, #ces09 will show all tweets that have been tagged with this consumer electronics show marker.  Rather like football chants, these tags appear to proliferate organically until everyone is using the same one.  Let’s take a newer hashtag to show you the usage:  #lunchtweet .

What are you doing?

#lunchtweet salmon sushi set, sesame spinach and soba noodles. Mmm Tokyo Diner.

It doesn’t matter where you put your hashtag in your tweet.

4. Be aware that everything you write is EVIDENCE, and will be on the internet FOREVER! 

5.  It’s the interactivity aspect that trips so many people up – to make the most out of Twitter, remember that it’s not just about broadcasting your thoughts, it’s also about having conversations, answering queries and adding your voice to a debate.  Tweeting should be human and reasonably informal. 


Meet ‘n’ Tweet

In summary, there’s a lot of fun to be had on Twitter, as long as you’re not expecting to monetize.  In my experience, it’s first and foremost a site for socialising and sharing the minutae of life as we live it, although it’s becoming a valuable networking tool for linking people together in a relaxed manner. 

I tweeted a while back (and got retweeted – the ultimate accolade!) that ” if LinkedIn is the office, Twitter is the pub” – the corollary of which appears to be: it doesn’t matter what you drink, as long as you’re reasonably sociable.

See you at the bar.


Oooh comments please…

Tell me, what do you use Twitter for? When did you join? What do you like about it? How has Twitter changed in the last few months? Feel free to leave comments here or on my twitter account.


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11 thoughts on “Surviving Twitter

  1. This is a great introduction about Twitter for people starting off. You’ve focused on the web/Internet interface. The design of Twitter — and hence 140-character constraint — is due to its compatibility to enter and receive messages on the mobile phone. As an alternative to the SMS interface — since I have a Blackberry — I use TwitterBerry.

    The Twitter Fan Wiki lists other native clients (e.g. on Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Second Life).

    My personal choice on receiving Twitter messages depends on how frequently I want to see messages. For people I know well (and aren’t too noisy), I use Twitter4Skype, since I already have Skype open on my laptop for instant messaging all of the time.

    For individuals that I want to track less frequently, I subscribe to his or her feed in my offline feed reader. Since you consolidate all of your web activity on Friendfeed, I take the indirect feed via Friendfeed rather than the direct feed from Twitter. Friendfeed is also a two-way interaction between active bloggers, so <a href=” also have been consolidating my tweets, blog and bookmarking on Friendfeed.

  2. Great guide indeed, I know many of the contacts I have Twitter and it comes up in conversation alot but its just one area of computing I have not tried as yet, likely more to not having the time to devote to many things of late. Likely get time to re-read your guide at test it out on train journey to London on Monday.

    Now you mention bar and drink then I need to buy a round in ~:O)

  3. It’s the first time I comment here and I must say that you give us genuine, and quality information for bloggers! Good job.
    p.s. You have a very good template . Where did you find it?

  4. People who aren’t utilizing twitter will have either not understand the major power of twitter or they might not be aware of its existence. Doing some research, you can get to know the positive and successful stories of twitter and their role in driving traffic towards your business

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