Twitter basics

Twitter FollowTwitter has a very limited feature set but for its regular users, its simplicity is also its strength. Here’s how to get started with Twitter.

Getting started with Twitter

Twitter is known for its simplicity and the extreme brevity of its posts, just 140 characters. Surprisingly, this works very well.

Here, briefly, is how it works. First, here’s how you get started.

Twitter Signup

  1. Sign up at Twitter accounts are free.
  2. Add a picture and a short bio. This is a very important marketing tool and should include carefully-written copy with a link back to your website or book/author page.

Twitter basically lets you do two things:

  • Tweet (send those 140 character messages)
  • Follow people to receive their tweets

Unlike Facebook Profiles, you don’t have to ask permission to follow someone. You just click the Follow button and you can be Twitter buddies with the rich and famous, too.

  • Tweets from people you follow will show up on your timeline, newest first.
  • Tweets you make will show up on your followers’ timelines and on the public internet (unless you specifically make them private).

Twitter is immediate, and with plenty of news junkies among its users, it’s often where you’ll hear about things first.

Even if you never post, you can get great value from Twitter by following influential people and media in your field of interest.

But if you post, you’ll build your own group of followers; then you’ll enjoy the other side of Twitter, the conversation. Twitter makes it easy to engage people in conversations.

Accessing Twitter: Twitter clients

The Twitter website, and its tablet and smartphone apps used to have fairly sparse interfaces, though Twitter is now working hard to change this. It led to a situation where many users don’t actually use the Twitter site or Twitter’s own mobile apps. They use third party Twitter clients to manage their accounts.

Even as Twitter improves its interface, many of its ‘power users’ continue to post using third party clients. Some of the most popular Twitter clients are:

Most third party Twitter clients also help you post to other social networks such as Facebook, a major attraction to those power users. We’ll look at them again shortly when we cover the challenge of managing (juggling?) all of your social media.


  • Twitter Guide Book ( Lots of useful information and tips on setting up and using Twitter, all in one place, from the Mashable website. Recommended if you’re about to embark on a serious Twitter campaign. However, beware that most of the information is a couple of years old. The basics haven’t changed but the details might differ.

Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.


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