There are three types of messages you can send in Twitter:
- Regular Message - this is just a general, public update that goes out to everyone that is following you. Just type something in the twitter box and press send.
- Reply Message - this is a message that replies to someone specific on your Twitter feed. The reply is also public so everyone can see your reply. For example, someone asks a question that you know the answer to so you decide to reply to them. You designate a reply message by starting it with the person's Twitter screen name (ex. @scotthimes is my name) Here's an example of how someone would reply to me:
"@scotthimes I know the answer to your question! It is...."
- Direct Message - this is a private message that goes to a specific person. You designate a direct message by putting a 'D' at the beginning of your message, followed by a space and the person's screen name. Here's an example of a direct message:
"D scotthimes I didn't want anyone else to know this but the answer is..."
There are a bunch of new terms and words that have popped up around Twitter. Here are some and a brief explanation so you're not clueless like I was the first week:
- Tweets - these are the individual messages people send out. Ex. "Thanks for all the tweets today you sent to encourage me."
- Tweeps - some people use this term to refer to those that follow them Ex. "Hello to all my tweeps out there."
- Re-Tweet - Refers to forwarding on or sending out the tweet of someone else while giving them credit. Designated by "RT" Ex. "RT @scotthimes McDonalds has BOGO today for their drinks."
- @ - anytime you see a word started with the "@" sign you know they are referring to a Twitter username Ex. "Check out the new pics at the website of @scotthimes"
- # - A world preceded by the "#" symbol is called a hashtag. A lot of times people will tweet about an event or topic that others have interest in. To make it easy to search for and find all the tweets about that event people will put single or multiple hashtags in their tweet Ex. "Having a great time at the U2 concert #U2 #indianapolis"
Here are some tips on how to best use Twitter while being courteous to those that you interact with:
- What to Talk About - How you use Twitter is completely up to you. From personal experience, people that put frequent updates about every little thing they are doing (giving a play by play of their day) are not as interesting to follow as those that give occasional updates and share thoughts/questions/ideas they're thinking about.
- Referring to someone - when you're mentioning someone else that uses Twitter it's good etiquette to use their screen name Ex. "Thanks @scotthimes for the website recommendation." This helps others that may want to follow the person you're talking about.
- Re-tweeting - don't just copy someone else's tweet and send it out as your own, that is plagiarism. Give them credit by re-tweeting. Ex "RT @scotthimes Check out this newspaper article on the fire in Indianapolis today."
- Website Links In Your Tweets - Since you are limited to 140 characters in a tweet you need to use short URL names. Long ones are also difficult to read and follow. Websites such as TinyURL will take the URL of a website and shorten it down. Use something like this instead of including the full URL.