What are the Best Tips for Using Twitter?

Patrick Roland

Twitter has become a social world of its own. Short bursts of communication are one of the most popular ways to share information and feelings on the Internet. Using Twitter, though, is confusing for new users, and it often can be intimidating. By learning how to fit a message into the short 140-character window, properly create links, use symbols correctly, direct messages to others and search, the process becomes clearer and a lot more fun.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

The first tip for successfully using Twitter is managing its 140-character message limit. This space leaves users with room for a sentence or two and causes users to abbreviate many words and phrases. When one views a selection of tweets, as messages on Twitter are affectionately called, it becomes instantly clear that there is a Twitter language all its own. The most common ways to shorten a message are leaving vowels out of words and using various acronyms.

One of the great joys of using Twitter is sharing links with friends. The problem with most links is that they often exceed the 140-character space limit without even including a message. Thankfully, there are many websites that truncate long links into smaller ones. By cutting and pasting a long link into one of these websites' systems, it creates a smaller link that takes up less room on the tweet.

A re-tweet (RT) is another common area of confusion for first-timers, because it uses its own symbols. Twitter etiquette encourages users to repost something said by another user, but those same rules of courtesy expect users to give the original tweeter credit. A re-tweet is done by cutting and pasting the original tweet into a new message after adding "RT@" followed by that person's Twitter name to the start of the message.

Direct messaging is another way to get the most out of using Twitter. This functions much like an email system, except that a private message — also within the 140-character limit, of course — is being sent directly to another Twitter user. Simply clicking on the Direct Tweet icon on the Twitter page brings up all of the necessary options for this tool.

Searching Twitter is one of the least used but most useful of all Twitter tools. When one is using Twitter and wondering what others are saying about a specific topic, it can be types into the search box. This scours all messages and brings them up like a search engine.

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