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April 21, 2017

How to use Twitter

Twitter is one of the worlds largest social media platforms. It's full of interesting people and creative content, but how do you use it?

By Joe Clark

Twitter is one of the more popular forms of social media today. In both app and desktop versions it offers users an interesting way to communicate with everyone from your mum to some of the biggest celebrities, and even brands, in the world.

As of February 2017, Twitter boasts over 1 billion registered users, 420 million quarterly active users, and 319 million monthly active users. Whilst this is still smaller than Facebook with its 1.8 billion active users, this is no fledgling network. The people with the most followers on Twitter are Currently Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and former President Barack Obama all with over 85 million followers, though the average is just 208.

Using Twitter the right way can be a joy and creates a simple and easy communication forum that can foster a positive and creative atmosphere. Using the service the wrong way however,  can lead to frustration and even lead to some very unintended, and potentially disastrous, consequences. so you had best learn to do it right.

First off, Twitter runs very much like your general social media platform, meaning you add or ‘follow’ your friends and they follow you back. You can also adjust your settings so that only people you vet first can see your tweets, or you can make your account public which allows anyone to see what you’ve said.

The main forum of Twitter is the feed, this feed shows all the tweets of those that you’ve followed and displays them in chronological order. It will also show you a recap of the tweets most likely to appeal to you since you last logged in.

Now that you know what you’re looking at, it’s time to figure out what these buttons do. At the bottom of each tweet there are three symbols, an arrow, a circle, and a heart. These represent replies, retweets, and favourites.

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Replies is fairly straight forward, press this to reply to the tweet in question, retweet allows you to post that tweet to your feed, either verbatim or with an addendum, so that your followers can see it too, and favourite saves it to a feed of favourited tweets on your account that you can look at whenever you want. Simple enough.

Now you know the lay of the land, it’s time to get tweeting. Twitter is a micro-blogging platform, and what that means is that there is a limited amount of space you’re allowed to use in each tweet, 140 characters to be exact. This means that every letter, number, space, and emoji accounts for part of your message for at least one character (some emojis take up multiple characters).

If you want to tweet at someone directly put their @ handle at the start of the tweet with nothing before it and write your message, to include them in a tweet on your feed make sure there is at least one character preceding their username.

Twitter also has a direct messaging component which works in a similar way to Facebook messenger or other instant messaging services, allowing private conversations between users, as opposed to publicly on the feed.

Twitter can be a pretty big place so to find the information you want, or to contribute something to a discussion, you can use a hashtag. Hashtags are a simple way of compiling tweets with a similar message together, for instance if your tweet has #Dogs it’ll be placed alongside other tweets with this hashtag. You can also search for hashtags to see what people are saying.

There you have it, Twitter isn’t too hard to master but it’s up to you to decide what to tweet.

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