Translating Twitter: The Tweet-Cheat-Sheet.

Twitter: Follow Me logo

On Twitter, if people “Follow” you, they can read your posts.

Over the past few months I have had to swallow my pride and finally admit that I’m a geek.

My geekishness was firmly under wraps and behind closed doors until I bought a Blackberry…  But 12 months have passed since I had that heated Bold vs Storm debate with the salesman in the Vodafone shop, and slowly my geekishness has started to seep through.

And now I have finally been turfed out of my technology encrusted cupboard by the fact that my friends, family,  acquaintances and colleagues are all turning to me for help and advice of the current techno-crazy: Twitter.

In the past week alone I’ve been asked to offer my far-from-expert advice on the inner-workings of micro-blogging to 5 separate people, (you know who you are!) and so I thought I would finally accept my geek status and compile a Tweet-Cheat-Sheet!

“I just don’t get it!

Twitter is simple.

You have 140 characters to say whatever you like – and essentially that’s it!

From my experience people coming to Twitter for the first time seem to think it’ll act like Facebook.  It won’t.  It’s not.  Facebook is a site that allows you to connect with Friends and Family – people you actually know.  In order for someone to see your status, profile etc in most cases they’ll need to be linked to you in someway… On Twitter your statuses can be seen by the world – which is why celebrities often have hordes of Twitter followers!

If you want to keep your messages private so that you can manage who sees what you post just check out the settings.

“What does it all mean?”

Twitter has developed its own language  (when you’ve only got 140 characters including spaces you’ve got to keep things tight!), and its crucial that a new Twitter user understands some of them:

  • Tweet” – a Tweet is the message that you send – the 140 characters.
  • “@” – if you want another Twitter user to be aware that you are talking to them, or referring to them, put an @ in front of their username.  For example:

“@rainbowclaire Thanks for helping me out” – in this instance you could almost read the @ as the word “To” – the tweet is addressed to me.

“Just read  the new blog by @rainbowclaire” – another perfectly acceptable Tweet – the use of the @ in front of the username will make sure I’m aware of this Tweet.

  • “#” – the hashtag on Twitter is one of the most powerful ways of getting other people to read your tweet.  Twitters often follow hashtags that they are interested in.  Where as the @ symbol refer to a person, the # often refers to a subject or something of interest e.g #bbc #worldcup #blog.  A hash tag can be anything.  Have a play around with them.  They can be included in the middle of sentences, or if you have extra spaces left they can be added on the end.

Tip: For Mac users you can find the hash key by pressing ‘alt’ and ‘3’

  • RT – an RT is a “Re-Tweet” – Twitter is very viral, with people finding tweets they like and forwarding them to their followers – this is a re-tweet.  Simply put a re-tweet essentially copies a tweet and posts it from you.  As it is rude to plagiarise Twitter automatically copies the original Tweeter’s username and puts that as part of your Tweet.

Tip: Keep your username as short as possible. You only have 140 characters to play with and if you want people to use your username in their tweets it’s best not to eat into their space.

  • DM A DM is simply a direct message – you still only have 140 characters, but this message is sent privately to one person.  Be aware though, DMs can only be sent to people who you are following, and then who are following you in return.

That’s it really.  Twitter is deceptively simple.

Have a play.


(Ok…I’ll crawl back into my cupboard now…)



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