Twitter Tips: Learning the Basics

How can something that sounds so fun be so confusing? Come on, Twitter? It’s cute. It’s friendly. It is NOT self explanatory! At least it wasn’t for me. I finally figured it out by diving in and playing around to see what would happen. I’ve decided that’s what it takes for me to learn my way around the Internet: set my intimidation aside and just jump in.

So, I’m going to post a few tips for getting the most out of Twitter. First, let’s start with the basics, as in really basic. If you already know how to post tweets, reply, and retweet, check back later when I’ll cover more advanced tips and tricks.

Profile vs Home

What confused me about Twitter and Facebook at first is the word “Home.” To me, that sounded personal, like the page would be all about me. The opposite is actually true. Home is the big public playing field where all the social interaction happens. The page that’s all about you is your Profile.

When you sign into your account, you’ll automatically go to your Profile. This is also the page others will see when they spot your name out on that Home playing field and click over to check you out. When in Profile mode, the top portion of your page – okay, my page – looks like this:

The rest of the page shows your tweets in descending order.

How to Post a Tweet

If you want to actually post a tweet, you’ll need to click on the word Home at the top, and then the top of your page will look like this:

You type you’re tweet in the blank field, then hit update. That’s it. Simple.

How to Reply and Retweet

When you’re on your Home, or visiting other people’s Profiles, and you mouse-over one of their tweets, two little links will appear in the lower right corner of the tweet.  They looks like this:

If you click on Retweet, you’re reposting their tweet word for word. Your retweet (RT) will look like this:

YourName RT @TheirName Followed by their exact tweet.

Why is it good to retweet? You’re sharing their tweet with your followers, which helps them gain more followers. This is a great way for authors to help out other authors.

If you click on Reply, “@TheirName” will appear in the field for writing tweets. Then you type in your message and hit update. Your reply will look like this:

YourName @TheirName Followed by your message.

Why is it good to reply? It helps you and the person you’re replying to gain followers. I’ve noticed groups of authors who happen to be friends carry on whole conversations this way, and since I know them as well, I find their exchanges funny and fun to follow. I’m sure readers who follow them enjoy this glimpse into their daily lives. Either that, or they’re convinced authors are slightly insane – but in a good way. If you’re going to do this with your friends, the next trick is very important!

Finding Tweets that Mention You

Important note! Twitter moves so fast, it would be impossible to carry on a conversation or keep track of who’s retweeting your tweets without this feature. It’s so simple, but I was on Twitter for months before I discovered it. Here’s how to do it:

When you’re in Home mode, look at the right side bar. Notice the link “@YourName” right beneath the word home? That’s it. If you’re active on Twitter, it’s good to check it often.

Also notice the link for Direct Messages. Those are for private tweets between two people and are not visible anywhere else. So, it’s good to check those regularly too. I rudely ignored DMs until I noticed that link, then felt really bad. It’s like not responding to personal e-mail.

Using Twitter to Promote Yourself and Other Authors

Now that we know how to tweet, I encourage everyone to do what I did: dive in and play. Especially with retweets and replies. Or by clicking that “share” button at the bottom of a blog post (like this one, hint hint). Social networking only works if you get out and socialize.

So, let’s get tweeting!


  1. Kat Sheridan says:

    OMG, thank you soooo much for posting this! I’ve looked at Twitter, and even have an accont there (though I doubt I remember the login) and just immediately went into panic mode. You’ve convinced me to try again!

  2. You’re welcome, Kat. Breathing through the panic is what this blog is all about.

  3. Kat Sheridan says:

    And I even gathered up my courage and clicked the “SHARE” button! W00t! I shared on Twitter!

  4. High five, Kat! I’m so proud. Thanks for the share.

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