The Beginner’s Guide To Twitter

By Tim Priebe on July 30, 2009

By Tim Priebe on July 30, 2009

Thinking about starting a Twitter account? Want a quick overview of Twitter and its lingo and customs? Then this is for you!

What is Twitter?

Simply put, Twitter is like instant messenger on broadcast. People who sign up for Twitter can subscribe to multiple people’s updates, and those updates will then appear in chronological order on their home page.

From a business standpoint, there are several advantages to having a Twitter account. If you can create an account people are willing to subscribe to, your updates will appear on their home page. So you can market directly to them without spending anything but your time.

Another advantage is being able to establish relationships and maintain them easily online. You can “meet” people on Twitter, then eventually meet them in real life and already have an established relationship. You can also follow people you met in real life, but would otherwis be in contact with on a regular basis. And you can help others by answering questions.

Twitter Lingo

There are many terms that are unique to Twitter. To get you up to date, here’s the definition of many of those terms.

Tweet – This can be either a verb or a noun. A tweet is an update or micro-blog that you sent out. To tweet is to write and send out that update.

Tweeter – Someone who uses Twitter.

Follow – To subscribe to someone’s updates, so that they will appear on your home page.

@Reply – A tweet that is publicly broadcast, but directed to a specific person. You write one by simply putting @username anywhere in the message, generally at the beginning. i.e. @tandsgo Do you design business cards as well?

Direct Message – A private message, only viewable by the intended recipient. You can only send direct messages to people that are following you.

Retweet – Rebroadcasting a tweet someone else posted. Generally done in the form: RT @username: Original message. i.e. RT @amber_hanks: – I hate ie6

Hash Tag – A way to track topics on Twitter. You add a #, followed by a keyword of some sort. i.e. Thanks to everyone who came to the Marketing Rxpo. We had a great time, and loved talking with everyone! #edmondrxpo

Other Twitter Customs

When mentioning other Twitter users in posts, use their @username so they will be linked to. i.e. Going out on a date with my lovely wife, @priebechick, tonight

On Fridays, there’s an event called Follow Friday. The convention is to use the hash tag #followfriday, and to mention several people worth following on Twitter. i.e. My 1st #FollowFriday! Check out @divainteriors, @shawnJroberts, @sastubblefield, @WhitneyFleming, @moniqueterrell, @rhukill & @fallonbrooks

The Fail Whale is the screen shown when Twitter servers are over capacity, and Twitter is temporarily unavailable. Generally, immediately clicking the refresh button on your browser will clear up the problem.

Because Twitter limits messages to 140 characters, many services exist to shorten URLs from something like to Those include sites like, and

If you have any Twitter questions, be sure to ask. We’d be happy to help!

P.S. Feel free to follow me on Twitter, or to follow T&S.

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