I have talked to several people and seen various comments on Facebook lately about not quite understanding the whole twitter thing.
I opened an account a couple years ago, but just recently became active on it. I am really loving it, and I think with a few basic instructions you will too!
You could opt to read the FAQ's on Twitter, but I will just have a few of the need-to-know things here so you don't have to wade through the "advanced" twitter operations. :)
1. Username: Pick a username that you want others to see and recognize.
2. Profile: Use your profile to describe what you will be tweeting about (people will search for certain things, and you want to be found)
3. Personalize: All of your information, picture, page background can be changed under "Settings."
4. Sidenote: Unlike Facebook, you will be searching for and being searched for based on what you have in common with others NOT necessarily because you know them from High School (although you can find people you know as well).
5. Finding People to Follow: Once your account is open, from your "home" page you can click at the top on the "Who to Follow" tab. Under this tab, you can search by the suggestions Twitter gives you (I think these are based on what you have in profile and other people you are following), linking to your Email Contacts, or you can begin browsing by interests categories (News, Art & Design, Family, etc.).
6. Committing to Follow: If you want to follow someone, click the green "Follow" button and you will start seeing their "Tweets" on your homepage. The person may or may not "Follow" you back. Some people have their account set to approve all Follow requests, but most just let whoever follow and it begins immediately.
7. More Searching: Another way I like to find people is to put a subject up at the top in the "Search Box." It will bring up a whole list of Tweets with that subject in it, I'll check out the Tweeter a little and decide if I want to follow.
8. Homepage: Now everytime you log into Twitter, it will pull up your "Homepage" where a live stream of Tweets (Status Updates) are shown from each person you are following.
Now you're ready to...
Start Tweeting (Creating your own "Status Update" in Twitter):
1. Length: You have 140 characters to say what you're going to say. Twitter has a countdown right below the box you type in and it won't let you click "Tweet" if it is too long. You can get creative!
2. Followers: Once you have Tweeted, anyone who is following you can read your tweet live. (Most people have the Twitter App on their phone and check tweets as often as they play "Angry Birds"...this is part of why news about Osama Bin Laden was so quickly spread...who wants to wade through everyone's Frontierville statuses on FB to find out that information?)
3. Tagging (#): You can tag key words in your status and Twitter picks out trends based on how many people are tagging the same word. This is done by putting the # symbol in front of the words. For example, for this post I might tag #howtotwitter. People can also search tags in the Search area similar to searching by subject like I talked about earlier.
4. Retweet: When someone you follow writes something you want to share with others, you can "Retweet" what they say (similar to "Share" on FB). There are button choices between each Tweet, if you mouse over it will tell you what the button stands for. One of them is "Retweet." When you retweet, it will take that person's tweet and become part of your stream of tweets but it will put RT @personname in front so others know you didn't steal the thought but you are giving credit. You can add your own comments if there are enough characters left. It's always a good idea to leave a few characters open on your own tweet in case others want to RT you!
5. Reply: If you simply want to Reply to something another Twitterer as posted. Click the reply button below their Tweet and it will create the @ symbol with their profile name behind it i.e. @homeplussome. Again, add your reply and will show only that person and anyone else you commonly are followed by.
6. Mention (@): Similar to Reply, but you are just mentioning another Twitterer. You may say something like" "I just saw a clever blog written by @homeplussomething, you should check it out." You can check if you've been mentioned by clicking on the "Mentions" tab on the top of your Homepage. The Mobile Twitter App notifies you when you are mentioned.
You're all set to start twittering. Next post, I will tell you how to link Facebook and Twitter together to save time. But for now, start Tweeting! (And don't forget to come follow me on twitter and give this blog a mention!)