Social Media

A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Twitter

Comprehensive Guide to Twitter

Twitter is the second largest social network with 313 million active users as of the second quarter 2016 and is an excellent choice if you want to pick a social network to spend your time.

If I had to pick one social network to help promote your business it would probably be Twitter.

Twitter is a form of “microblogging” where you post short 140 character long messages called tweets and there’s really not that much more to it than that. You can follow anyone you want, tweet at any one you want and people can do the same to you unless you set your account to private.

It might seem a bit complicated at first but it’s definitely one of the easiest social networks to get the hang of.

 

Signing Up for Twitter

The first thing you’ll need to do is sign up and you can do that by visiting Twitter.com and clicking the signup button at the top.

Twitter Signup

Next you’ll see a screen that looks like this:

Join Twitter Today

If you’re signing up as yourself go ahead and enter your first and last name. If you’re signing up as a company go ahead and enter your company name.

Unlike social networks like Facebook there’s no difference between a business and a personal Twitter account.

If you want to sign up using some kind of alias go ahead and use that if you want.

Twitter needs either a phone number or email address for your account so go ahead and enter whichever one you prefer.

Enter whatever password you’d like to use as well.

If you check “Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits” it’ll try to suggest accounts to follow. I’d personally leave this unchecked.

At the very bottom is a small link that says “Advanced options”. Clicking this gives you two more checkboxes that let people do a search for your email address or phone number to find your account.

This is useful incase you have friends who already know your email address or phone number and want to look you up on Twitter.

When you’re ready click the blue Sign up button.

If you didn’t enter a phone number Twitter will try to convince you to so you can recover your account if you’re locked out or something.

Enter Your Phone

I don’t really want to give Twitter my phone number so I’d personally skip this but if you ever get locked out of your account this could help so it’s up to you.

Next you’ll get to choose a username:

Choose a Username

This is important because it’s your major form of identification on Twitter. People can reply to you by typing in your username and the URL for your Twitter profile is twitter.com/yourusername.

My username is PeterSaydak. The Realty Digital Marketing Professional Community’s username is rdm_pc.

You don’t get spaces so if you’re using your real name I recommend you capitalize the first letters of each name so it’s a little bit easier to read.

If you pick a username that you don’t like don’t worry because it’s something you can change later.

Next Twitter is going to ask you for some interests so it can target tweets and advertising to you.

Interests

If you really want to get into Twitter and see stuff that you’re interested feel free to select some interests. When you’re ready click the Continue button.

Next it’ll ask if you want to search your existing contacts for people to follow.

Find Friends

Remember that option that let people find your Twitter account based on your email or phone number? Here you can let Twitter search through your email contacts and if any of their emails match a Twitter account then you can easily follow them.

In the final step Twitter is going to try to get you to follow some suggested accounts.

Suggested Accounts

I’ve never seen anything here that I actually care about so I always unselect everything before I continue.

Congratulations, your account is now set up and you’ll be on the Twitter Home screen.

 

Twitter Home Screen

The Twitter Home Screen

This is the screen you’re going to see when you log into Twitter. In the below screenshot I’m logged in with my own Twitter account.

Twitter Home Screen

At the top is the main menu with links to the Home screen, Moments, your Notifications, Messages, a search field, your account information and a compose tweet button.

In the upper left is a preview of your profile with your cover image, profile picture and the number of tweets, people you’re following and followers you have.

Below that is a box with topics and hashtags that are currently trending on Twitter. This is simply a list of topics or keywords that lots of people are tweeting about. If you click on one you’ll see a list of all the tweets that have that hashtag or keyword.

Below that (you can’t see it in this screenshot) is a list of accounts Twitter is going to recommend that you follow. This is based off of the interests you told Twitter you had and the kinds of accounts you follow.

On the right is your feed, this has all the tweets from the people you follow.

 

Your Profile

Your Profile

If you click anywhere in the little profile summary box or click on the picture in the upper right and select View Profile you’ll be taken to your own profile.

Here’s how mine looks:

My Profile

You can take a look at it yourself by going to twitter.com/PeterSaydak.

You get a big cover image, a square profile picture that shows up beside all your tweets, a short bio and website address.

There’s a big feed of all your tweets and a quick look at any photos and videos you’ve uploaded.

By default people will just see your plain regular tweets.

If you click on Tweets & replies at the top of your feed you’ll see a list of all your regular tweets and any tweets that are in reply to another user. By default if you reply to someone it won’t show up on your main feed.

If you click on Media you’ll see a list of all your tweets that contain a photo or a video.

To customize your profile click on the Edit Profile button near the upper right.

Edit Profile

Editing your profile used to be a lot more complicated but now they’ve made it quite easy.

Everything gets faded out except the sections that you can edit.

If you click on Change your header photo you can upload a new header photo. The recommended size for this cover photo is 1500 x 500 pixels. You don’t have to worry too much about getting a perfectly sized image because you can still scale and adjust any image you do upload.

If you click on Change your profile photo you can upload a square photo that will appear by all of your tweets. You’ll also get to scale and crop it no matter what you upload.

Below the profile information is where you can edit your bio, location and website address. You also get to pick a theme colour which changes the colour of all the links on your profile.

You can also set a birthday and choose if you want people to be able to see it or not.

 

Following and Followers

If you go to anyone’s profile you’ll see a follow button.

Follow Button

Clicking that button will add that account to the list of people that you follow and their tweets will show up in your feed.

If you go to your profile or anyone else’s and click on Following you’ll see a list of all the accounts they follow.

Following

If you click on Followers you’ll see a similar list of every account that follows the account you’re looking at.

If you click on Likes you’ll see a list of all the tweets the account has ever liked.

 

Tweeting

Tweeting

To make a tweet click on the Tweet button in the upper right of the window. It will be whatever colour you selected when you customized your profile.

Tweet Button

This will open a little “compose tweet” window.

Compose New Tweet

If you’re just typing a quick message then type it in and click the Tweet button.

The number at the bottom to the left of the Tweet button shows you how many characters you have left.

If you click on the camera icon you can upload a photo. It will upload to Twitter and get included in your tweet as a shortened URL. This URL used to use up some of your 140 characters but this is no longer the case.

If you click on the GIF button you can choose from a library of animated gifs and insert those into your tweet. Like the photo it’ll be added to your tweet as a URL.

The icon with the three lines lets you make a poll.

Poll

You enter your question at the top and your answers below. You can also set a length for how long people can vote. By default that’s set to 1 day.

The final pin icon lets you add location data to your tweet so people can see where you’re tweeting from.

 

Tweeting at Someone

You can tweet at anyone by entering an @ followed by their username. You can also enter multiple usernames and multiple people will get a notification that you tweeted to them.

You can also visit anyone’s profile and below their bio and information you’ll see a “Tweet to” button.

Tweet To

If you click that button the compose a tweet window will appear with their username already filled in.

Tweet to Window

You’ll notice that entering their username uses up some of your 140 characters.

When you tweet at someone it can either be a mention or a reply.

If the tweet contains the person’s username with an @ somewhere in the tweet then it’s called a mention. For example:

Hi @PeterSaydak, you have a really awesome Twitter profile!

If you send a tweet like this it’ll appear on your profile in your public tweets. If anyone is following you then they’ll also see this tweet show up in their feed.

The person who you mentioned in the tweet will also get a notification that someone mentioned them.

When the username comes first in the tweet then it’s called a reply. For example:

@PeterSaydak hi, I really like your Twitter profile!

If you send a tweet like this it won’t appear in the list of public tweets. Someone will have to click to that tweets and replies tab to see it.

If a person is following both you, and the person who’s username you mentioned at the start of your tweet then they’ll see the tweet in their feed.

If they’re only following you and not the person you mentioned then they won’t see the tweet in their feed. They can still come to your profile, click on the tweets and replies tab and see it there though.

 

Replying to a Tweet

You can reply directly to a tweet too. If you’re looking at a tweet in a feed somewhere there’s a little reply arrow at the bottom.

Reply in Feed

Clicking on that opens a reply window.

Reply Window

Their username is already filled in so you just have to type the rest of your tweet.

You still have all the regular tweet options like photos or polls to use.

If you click on a tweet you’ll see some more information about it including the replies below it.

Tweet Details

This tweet has two replies at the bottom as well as 194 likes and 128 re-tweets.

 

Re-Tweeting

If someone makes a tweet you like you can re-post it on your profile so all your followers see it. This is called “re-tweeting”.

To retweet something click the little retweet button at the bottom of a tweet.

Retweet Button

This opens up a little window that looks like this:

Retweet Window

If you just click the Retweet button it’ll be posted to your profile just as it is and your followers will see the tweet in their feeds.

It’ll show up on your feed and look like this:

Retweeted

You can also add your own comment when you retweet. In that case it’ll show up on your profile like this:

Quote

Your response appears above the tweet and this is referred to as a “quote” or “quote retweet”. It’s great if you want to retweet something and also add your own thoughts to it.

 

Liking a Tweet

If you like a tweet you can click on the little heart button at the bottom and it’ll be saved in your list of favourites. Keep in mind that your list of favourites is public so anyone can go and see what you’ve liked.

The person who made the tweet will receive a notification that you liked it as well.

 

Pinning a Tweet

You also have the option to pin an important tweet to the top of your profile.

Pinned Tweet

This will be the first thing people see when they visit your profile.

To pin a tweet click on the 3 dot icon at the bottom of one of your tweets.

3 Dot Icon

Then select Pin to your profile page.

Pin Tweet

You can only have on tweet pinned at a time and you can’t pin retweets, only your own tweets.

 

Other Tweet Options

There are a few other options that appear when you click the little 3 dot icon.

Share via Direct Message lets you share that tweet privately with someone else.

Copy link to Tweet copies the unique URL for that specific tweet so you can paste it somewhere else.

Embed Tweet lets you embed a tweet on a webpage like this:

Finally Delete Tweet simply deletes the tweet. There’s no edit button on Twitter so if you screw up a tweet you’ll have to delete it and then tweet it again.

 

Tweet Activity

You can also see some stats showing how well your tweets performed.

Click on the little graph icon at the bottom of one of your tweets:

Tweet Activity

And you’ll see a window with some stats that looks like this:

Tweet Activity

Impressions is the number of times your tweet was viewed and engagements are how many people did something with your tweet such as clicking on the link, liking it, retweeting it, etc.

From here you can of course also spend money to promote the tweet so more people will see it.

 

Hashtags

Hashtags

Hashtags are the little keywords that you see with a # in front of them. They’re used to organize tweets around certain topics.

For example if you’re at an event that event might have a hashtag. When you tweet about the event you’re supposed to include that hashtag and then anyone who searches for or clicks on that hashtag will see all the tweets that are related to that event.

People create various hashtags about different things and then people can include them in their tweets. If a lot of people tweet using the hashtag then it’ll get added to the trending section on Twitter.

Today (as I’m writing this) for example the hashtag #readabookday is trending.

Read a Book Day Hashtag

If I click on or search for the hashtag I’ll see tweets that include this hashtag. By default you start on the Top section which has the most popular tweets containing that hashtag.

If you click on Live you’ll see the tweets that contain this hashtag in real time with the most recent ones at the top.

News will show you tweets by news websites that contain the hashtag.

Photos gives you a list of photos that appeared in tweets that contain the hashtag and Videos gives you the tweets with the hashtag that also have a video.

More Options gives you various options to sort and filter the results.

When you make a tweet you can use as many hashtags as you want just keep in mind they count towards your 140 character limit. You’ll often see people include a hashtag or two at the end of their tweet if they have space left.

Here’s one of my favourite YouTube videos showing how ridiculous some people can be with hashtags.

 

Notifications

When you’re logged into Twitter at the very top of the window you’ll see a Notifications link.

Notifications

This takes you to your notifications screen which is divided into two sections.

The first section is for all your various notifications.

Notifications Home

This is a chronological feed of things like people who followed you, people who retweeted you or people who liked your tweet.

The most recent notifications are at the top.

If you click on Mentions you’ll get a feed of all the tweets that mention you (include an @YourUserName).

Mentions

You can easily reply to, retweet or favourite tweets that show up here.

The tweets here are also in chronological order with the newest ones at the top.

 

Direct Messages

Direct Messages

While everything you do on Twitter is public you can also send private messages to other users.

You can access your messages by clicking the messages icon at the top of the screen.

Messages Icon

Here you’ll see a list of any conversations you currently have going on or have had in the past.

Direct Messages

If you click on the New Message button in the upper right corner you can send a private message to another user.

Generally you can only send direct messages to someone if you follow them and they follow you back.

There is a setting however that you can turn on which will allow anyone to send you direct messages even if you don’t follow them.

A lot of businesses have this feature turned on so customers and prospects can send them private messages.

You can also send direct messages to a group of users and everyone in that group can reply to each other.

The direct messages works just like the chat on pretty much any other site.

Messages

In this example I am talking to the Realty Digital Marketing Twitter account.

You’re not limited to 140 characters in your direct messages and you can also attach photos and gifs just like regular tweets.

 

Moments

Moments

There’s another link in the menu at the top of Twitter for something called moments.

Moments Icon

I’ve never personally used this section of Twitter.

Moments are basically just news stories about things that are currently popular on Twitter. These stories are curated by Twitter and “select partners” which means they’re either selected by heavily biased Twitter employees or they’re ads that a company paid for.

You can get your news and whatnot from much better sources than Twitter Moments in my opinion.

 

Settings

Settings

If you click on your profile image in the upper right of the screen and click on Settings you can access all of Twitter’s various settings.

Settings Menu

There’s actually a lot of stuff here and the settings are divided up into a bunch of different sections.

 

Account

This is the first section of your settings. This is where you can change things like your username, email address, the language of the site and your time zone.

The content section has a few settings that affect what you see.

Selecting a country helps target tweets and advertising to you.

Under Tweet media you have the option to see all tweets even if they contain sensitive media and you can also add a warning to your tweets if you’re tweeting out things that might be sensitive (violence, adult content, etc.).

You can set video tweets to automatically start playing the video if you want. There won’t be sound unless you click onto the video first, it’ll just start playing in your timeline without sound if this option is checked.

Show me the best Tweets first is a relatively new option that made a lot of people angry. Twitter used to show you all the tweets from everyone you follow in a chronological list and everybody liked it that way.

Then they changed it so that an algorithm decides which tweets you see first. Facebook does pretty much the same thing.

This is in theory supposed to show you things you care about the most first so you stay interested in Twitter but it’s really just used to force people to spend money to promote their tweets or else less people will see them.

I highly recommend you uncheck this and you’ll see all the tweets from people you follow like you’re supposed to.

Enjoy this option while you can though because I highly suspect Twitter will eventually just remove it so you’re forced to see whatever tweets their algorithm selects.

You can request an archive of your account which contains all your information and tweets going back to when you first created your account. They’ll email you a download link and you can go through everything.

At the very bottom of this screen is a tiny link where you can deactivate your account if you ever decide to leave Twitter.

 

Security and Privacy

Security and Privacy

This section controls your various security and privacy related settings.

Under the Security section you can add two-step authentication to your login using a phone, make is so you have to provide personal information to reset your password and make it so you always have to enter a password every single time you log in.

Under the Privacy section the first option controls how people are able to tag you in photos.

Tweet privacy will make it so that only people you approve will see your tweets. Any tweets you’ve made before checking this option will still be public, only the tweets you make after you check this will be private.

If you want to Add a location to your Tweets you can but I’m not sure why you’d really want to do that. Twitter will include the location it either pulls from your network on your computer or the GPS on your phone and include that with your tweets.

Discoverability lets people search for your account based on either your email address or phone number. If someone has Twitter go through their email contacts when they sign up and you have this option enabled they’ll be able to easily find your account.

If you did have Twitter go through your contacts you can manage the list by clicking the Manage your contacts button.

Tailor Twitter based on your recent website visits will let people target advertising to you based on the websites you visited recently. I am not a fan of this kind of stuff so I personally would disable this option.

Tailor ads based on information shared by ad partners again lets people target ads to you based on personal information they’ve collected about your interests. I would also disable this too.

Twitter for teams has options for people who are using something called TweetDeck. If say a company is using TweetDeck to manage their company tweets they can add multiple employees to their team. This option is probably something you’ll never use or need to worry about.

The final option Receive Direct Messages from anyone lets anyone send you a direct message, even if you don’t follow them. It’s probably a good idea to leave this off to prevent tons of random people from sending you things.

I know lots of people with big followings will occasionally open their direct messages for a little bit to allow their followers to ask them questions. After a little bit they turn this option off.

Companies that use Twitter a lot might want to receive direct messages from anyone so customers and prospects can contact them.

 

Password

This section simply lets you change your account password.

 

Cards and Shipping

You can actually buy things directly from tweets now. If you do want to order things from tweets from people you follow this section is where you enter your credit card information and shipping address.

Twitter is not the most profitable social media site so I guess they’re trying to branch out and find new ways to make money.

 

Order History

If you’ve ever bought something through Twitter your order history will appear hear.

 

Mobile

This section is where you enter or change your mobile phone number and you can also find a link to download the mobile Twitter app.

 

Email Notifications

Email Notifications

This section is where you can control the notifications that Twitter emails to you.

For example you can receive emails when someone likes one of your tweets, mentions you, retweets you, etc.

You also have the option to receive emails every time this happens or select the option Tailored for You which in theory will send you emails when someone important or that you care about likes your tweet, mentions you or whatever.

I personally hate getting emails from sites like this so I have every single option unchecked except the direct message one.

I get direct messages rarely so if someone actually does send me one I don’t want to miss it.

 

Notifications

There are only two options here. The first one gives you the option to either see all the notifications in your notification feed (likes, retweets, follows, etc.). If you check Only people you follow then you’ll only see notifications in your notifications feed when someone you follow likes your tweet, retweets you, etc.

The other option, the Quality filter is supposed to filter out low quality tweets. I would leave this unchecked because any time you put Twitter in charge of what you see it’s going to use that option to show you more advertising or to filter out tweets that don’t agree with Twitter’s incredibly liberal/left-leaning political bias.

The Quality filter doesn’t just affect your notifications feed, it’ll affect what you see all over Twitter.

 

Web Notifications

This section lets you configure notifications that show up in your browser. I personally don’t want to receive pop-ups on my computer when stuff is happening on Twitter so I’ld leave these all off.

You have to specifically turn on these notifications in your browser though for them to work.

 

Find Friends

This section gives you the option to search through your email address book to find people who have a Twitter account based on their email address.

 

Muted Accounts

You can mute an account if you don’t want to have their tweets show up in your feeds. Any accounts you’ve muted will be listed here.

To mute an account click on the 3 dot icon on a tweet and select Mute.

Mute

 

Blocked Accounts

You can also out right block accounts. You’ll never see their tweets and they won’t be able to follow you or view your profile while they’re logged in to Twitter.

Keep in mind though that your Twitter account is public (unless you’ve made it private) and even if someone’s blocked they can simply log out of Twitter and then still see your profile and tweets.

There’s no way you’ll see any of their stuff though.

To block someone click the 3 dot icon on a tweet and select Block.

Block

 

Apps

You can give apps access to your Twitter account for various reasons and any apps that currently have access to your account are listed here.

If you don’t want them to be able to access your account any more you can revoke their access from this screen.

For example I use Hootsuite to schedule and manage my social media accounts so it has access to my Twitter account.

Hootsuite App

 

Widgets

This section of your settings lets you create Twitter widgets that you can embed in a website.

For example if you want a stream of your latest tweets you can create a widget for that, get the code and then insert that code into your website.

 

Your Twitter Data

This section is a log of all your Twitter history.

There’s a log of every time you or an app accessed your Twitter account and links to other sections of the settings.

There’s probably no reason to ever come in here unless you think someone else has been accessing your account and you want to check the log.

 

Accessibility

This section only has one option which adds descriptions to images for the visually impaired.

 

Twitter Tips

5 Tips for Being Successful with Twitter

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up for using Twitter.

 

1) Use the Search

In the upper right of the window there’s a search field.

Search

This is a fantastic feature because you can search for tweets that include any keyword in real time.

For example if you’re a company you can search for your company’s name and see all the tweets, sorted chronologically that mention your company.

You can then tweet back and thank the people who may have said something positive about you as well as try to contact people who might have complained about you to fix their problem.

You can also do a search for your competitors’ name and see what people are saying about your competition.

If you’re a car dealership for example you could search for topics like “car shopping”, select the filter near you and get a list of recent tweets by people talking about car shopping. You can then offer them advice, discounts, whatever you want.

Because everything on Twitter is public people aren’t weirded out by randomly being tweeted at by companies or other people as long as it’s relevant.

Don’t just start messaging random people and mentioning them though. That’s called @ spam and will get you banned.

 

2) Don’t worry too much about who follows you

When you start getting more active on Twitter you’ll start getting lots of random people following you.

A lot of them will also unfollow you after a day or two.

Don’t worry about this. What they’re doing is following accounts they think are related to them in the hopes that you’ll follow them back.

They unfollow you right away because they’re worried about keeping their ratio of followers to following good. They don’t want to be following way more people than are following them.

A lot of people recommend doing this to get people to follow you but I wouldn’t bother. Just follow the people you want for now.

 

3) Check the Trending Topics

Whenever you’re on Twitter check to see what topics are trending. If you can tweet about one of those topics there’s a pretty good chance that more people will see that tweet.

 

4) Don’t argue with people on Twitter

Arguing with people on the Internet is always a bad idea. You will never convince them that you’re wrong and it’ll eat up a huge amount of time.

On Twitter where you’re limited to 140 characters per tweet arguing is even more difficult and a waste of your time.

 

5) Use Lists

You can organize people into lists and even follow lists that other people have created. Click on your profile image in the upper right of Twitter and select Lists.

Lists

You’ll see a little section that with a create list button.

Create List

This will open a window that looks like this:

Create a New List

Enter a list name, description, select whether you want to make it public so anyone can follow the list or private so only you can access the list and hit Save list when you’re done.

To add people to a list visit their profile and look for the gear icon beside the follow button.

Gear Icon

Click the gear and select Add or remove from lists…

Ad or Remove from Lists

Then just check the list you want or click the create a new list button.

Your Lists

You can access your lists on your profile. After you create your first list you’ll have a new tab on your profile called lists. Clicking that will show all your lists.

Your Lists

You can then click on the specific list to see a feed of all the tweets from people in that list.

Keep in mind that this is a public tab on your profile. If your lists are public anyone can go here and see your lists and follow them too if they want.

 

In Conclusion

In Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot in this post but by now you should have a pretty solid idea how to use Twitter.

Twitter is still probably my favourite social network mainly because of how you can search for topics and keywords like your company name and see what people are saying in real time. If I had to pick on social network to be on it would probably be Twitter.

There are some topics that I haven’t covered in this post like Twitter Analytics. I’ll be doing a separate post on Twitter Analytics in the future.

I also didn’t cover promoting your own tweets or running Twitter ads. I’m not a huge fan of Twitter’s advertising platform, I prefer to advertise on Facebook personally so I may or may not do a post about Twitter advertising in the future.

If you have any questions about anything related to Twitter or you want me to expand on anything in this post let me know in the comments.

P.S.

You can follow me on twitter at @PeterSaydak and you can follow Realty Digital Marketing at @rdm_pc

Profile photo of Peter Saydak
Peter Saydak is a digital marketing expert and the founder of the Realty Digital Marketing Professional Community. He’s worked on many different digital marketing projects in multiple industries. He’s very passionate about marketing and web design specifically. After working on several projects in the real estate industry he decided to focus on teaching realtors, agents and other real estate professionals how to have success with digital marketing.

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