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Getting Started on Twitter in Plain English

By Char

twitter91Chances are if you aren’t already on Twitter, you certainly have heard enough about it in the media to at least be curious as to what all the buzz is about.

My best explanations for Twitter are a global water cooler, business mixer or cocktail party. You are exchanging small bits of information – both personal and business/interest related – while coming in and out of multiple conversations.

For the basics, check out this video from one of my favorite sources, Common Craft, called Twitter in Plain English:

While Twitter really started out as a way of filling in the gap between email and blogs, it has become so much more! Twitter has become the ultimate networking tool (just ask Wendy at Sparkplugging about how Twitter landed her a spot on the Today Show), it has become another tool in a brand’s marketing toolkit, and it has become the place to make new contacts, find resources, and get connected in the social media arena.

So how do you even start to navigate Twitter, know who to follow and what to tweet?

Getting Started:

Sign up at Twitter. Use your real name, “handle” or company name and get started on your profile. Add your location (even if you define it in your broader metro area), add 1-2 lines about your company, interests and web site address (if you have one). You decide how much goes in your profile, but these are the minimums in my opinion.  Add a photo, image or logo to help you become identifiable on Twitter and you are ready to play.  If you want to get snazzy, add a custom background to your Twitter profile (examples and how to at Spoon Graphics).

Who Should You Follow?

Everyone has to be the new kid on the block at some point. Don’t let that keep you from getting started. Start by looking at some of your favorite blogs – are the authors on Twitter? If so, start by following them. Take a look at sites like and to find people with similar interests to yours. You can also search Twitter ( for keywords, conversation topics and niche topics to find people you want to follow.

What Do I Tweet?

With Twitter you only have 140 characters to share what you have to say. Its amazing how good you get at writing in short, descriptive and meaningful thoughts. Ultimately there are no real rules, but to get you started things you may want to tweet about include:

  • What you are doing.
  • Ask a question related to your business niche, something you want to know more about or something even more general.
  • Answer someone else’s question.
  • Respond to a tweet made by others.
  • Share your opinion on current events, shows, and topics of interest.
  • Share your latest blog post automatically using TwitterFeed.
  • You can share links to web pages you like but if the URL is too long you need to use a URL shortening service like

What Else Should I Know?

  • Be courteous and don’t spam. Twitter is like any other social media tool – treat others as you wish to be treated. Be genuine and develop relationships.
  • Tweet on a regular basis and make your Twitter experience a two way conversation.
  • You don’t have to follow everyone who follows you, but try to keep the numbers somewhat balanced. Its hard to have a conversation when you follow 3 people and expect 300 to follow you.
  • You can even block people from following you if you need to – especially if it looks like the follower is really a spammer.

More Twitter Resources:

Remember this was meant to be an introduction to Twitter in as simple terms as possible. Hopefully it will take the mystery out of Twitter! Feel free to share it with someone you know who is getting started on Twitter and of course, you are always welcome to Tweet, Stumble or Digg this, too!

Categories : Social Networking, Video



Sometimes i just don’t understand the point of twitter… but it doesn’t stop me from using it!!


Nice one , thanks for sharing !!

P.S Maybe you should consider to try Digsby to do tweet via desktop


I have no clue what I’m doing, but I’m curious enough I want to check out Twitter. I’ve heard of frittering away time. Is there such a thing as twittering away time? How do you know when you have 140 strokes?


Thanks for this informative article. It was really helpful and I will be utilising the tips.


How do I post a URL and turn it into a hyperlink?


Reply to Lottie…
Try, specify your url, get the tiny url. Mention in your tweet and press enter. You should be able to get the hyperlink. Try it. Hope I understood your question correctly.


There’s some really good tips there, I’m going to try some of them out right now. I’ve never really got into Twitter, but it looks like I’m really missing out.


Great resource on twitter! I just passed it along to a colleague… I think I’ll tweet it :)


I use Twitter alot. It has proved to be a good resource for not only bringing traffic to my blog but also a great resource for finding new business connections. Wish I had found this article a few weeks back because it could have really helped me get off to a better start when using Twitter.


Great post! It’s so important for new users to have an introduction to something as quick-moving as Twitter. I find that my clients (small businesses) need this type of instruction for social media in general. It’s good to know the unspoken rules and manners before you jump in IMO.



Thanks for this – perhaps it will be the thing that finally gets me to sign up for Twitter :)



Thanks for these great resources. I’m constantly getting friends to sign up for twitter so I love resources like this one so I can just send them the link instead of rehashing information. Really good description on what to tweet too, that’s probably the biggest hurdle for new twitter users.


One of the things that frustrates me on twitter and elsewhere online has to do with English – speaking it. It’s hrd 2 undrstd & read abbs peps uz in order to shrink down their note in 140 characters. I keep reminding people that there is a world in which you can have your say beyond 140 characters. It’s called a blog. :D

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