Friday, 9 August 2013

Why and how to use Twitter

The latest data on Twitter users is staggering. With more than 554,750,000 active registered users and 58 million tweets per day, the online social networking website and microblogging service launched by Jack Dorsey in 2006, earned $259,000,000 as advertising revenue in the year 2012.

Every second 9,100 tweets see the light of the day and 135,000 new Twitter users sign up every day. Likewise, 115 million people actively use Twitter every month and Twitter site attracts 190 million unique visitors every month.  (Source: Twitter, Huffington Post, eMarketer

Twitter is a real-time social network that helps users share, follow and interact with stories, opinions, links, pictures and 140-character messages. The power of Twitter allows you to receive the tweets from and listen to the opinions of the people and organisations you follow. The retweet (RT) facility allows you and your followers to spread the message to a wider audience and opens the door for your message to go viral.

Twitter basics
are small bursts of information of 140 characters long at the maximum. A user's Twitter Handle is the username s/he selects and the accompanying URL (E.g., An @reply is a method of responding to another Twitter user publicly. If you place @ before the receiver's username, your message will be directed to that person publicly.  

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to categorise tweets for reference and to facilitate conversations on specific subjects.

Twitter lingo
As the users are bound to a 140 character limit, they have come up with innovative acronyms.

at (mention) @
hashtag #
caret/hat sign ^
financial hashtag $
as far as I know AFAIK
carbon copy CC
correction CX
direct message DM
Follow Friday FF
hat tip/heard through HT
in case you missed it ICYMI
Music Monday MM
modified tweet MT
not safe for work NSFW
overheard OH
partial tweet PT
real life retweet RLRT
retweet RT
shaking my head SMH
thanks for the follow TFTF
today I learned TIL
too long; didn't learn TL;DR
tweet me back TMB
thanks for the retweet TQRT
translated tweet TT
with W/

Simple steps to use Twitter
To create a Twitter account, you just need an email address. Go to, sign up, assign a username and a password. A username can't be more than 15 characters – you are free to use letters, numbers and underscore. Make sure you use a name that you use in your websites and blogs. Using your real or business name makes it easier for search engines to find you.

After signing up, add a photo (not more than 700 KB and should be either in JPG, GIF or PNG format) and a short bio – your bio should not exceed 160 characters and should tell people what you do, your interests and personality. You can customise your Twitter profile page (Password, add devices, notices, picture, design and colour schemes).

Follow your friends, opinion leaders and organisations you want to receive tweets from. To get followers you need to tweet regularly. 

To start tweeting, tell people what you are doing, disseminate the news from your industry, share helpful tips and your opinion on a trending topic. As the maximum characters you can use is 140, shorten the URLs of your links through URL shortening services (, etc.).

Add a hashtag (#+word/phrase) to your tweet to make it more searchable and increase its chance of becoming a trending topic. Don't use more than 3 hashtags per tweet.

You can retweet (RT) to share the best tweets you come across with your followers. You can send someone a tweet publicly or reply to his/her tweets by adding @ before the username. You can send a direct message (DM) to a person who is following you. It is private and directly goes to the follower's twitter inbox.   

You can follow back a follower, un-follow and even block him/her if you find them annoying. To block a follower, go to the profile of the person, click the person icon, from the dropdown Actions menu select Block from the listed options. You can Unblock him/her by clicking undo on their profile page

If you are a beginner, follow the steps in the presentation (in Nepali) below to start tweeting and be an advanced user by tweeting at regular intervals.

Source:, Mashable, USC Rossier School of Education.

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