The Basics of Twitter

When it comes to social media, there are so many options to choose from these days! There’s Facebook and Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest. There’s Snapchat, Goodreads, and Vine, not to mention a host of other sites that make an old fogey like me scratch my head.

Then there’s Twitter.

Ah, Twitter! It’s so easy and straightforward to use. It’s so very addicting. Out of all of the social media sites out there, Twitter has to be my favorite. And it can be yours too!

So if you’ve been thinking about dipping your toes in the tweeting waters, here are a few basics to get you started. Don’t be scared! I promise that this will be quick and painless and soon you’ll be tweeting up a storm in no time.

First things first, what exactly is Twitter? Well, it’s a social media platform where users connect with other users in short 140-characters-or-less messages, called ‘tweets.’ You can use Twitter to chat with friends and meet new people. Nowadays, a lot of people also use it to stay updated on the latest news. For a basic primer on Twitter, click here.

Interested in signing up? You can do that here! You’ll simply need an email address and a password. You’ll also be asked to create a Twitter ‘handle’ or username. It can be your name—mine is ctrichmond, an abbrievated version of my full name—or it can be something silly like FluffyCats4Life. What’s nice is that you can switch your handle at anytime so you can change things up if you’d like!

Okay, now that you’re all signed up, it’s time to start following people! You can follow anyone on Twitter with a quick tap of a button, from celebrities and politicians to restaurants and ordinary folk like me. Of course, you can follow your favorite writers on Twitter too! (Many of the YA Bucs are on Twitter!) There are a ton of authors who tweet, from the likes of John Green and JK Rowling to just-starting-out writers and to everyone in between. This is one of the reasons why I love Twitter so much—it connects writers from all across the country, even across the globe! Simply put, it’s a fantastic way to plug into the writing community.

Finally, let’s get chatting! I know what you're thinking though … what if no one talks to me?! When I first started using Twitter back in 2010, I was really nervous about tweeting with people I'd never met. What if they ignored me? What if they scoffed at me? But I was relieved to find that the vast majority of writers I’ve interacted with on Twitter are super friendly! So if you read an interesting tweet, hit “reply” and start a conversation going. Don’t be nervous! Just relax and carry on as if you’re meeting up with a new friend for coffee or a doughnut. Mmm, doughnuts...

There you have it! This all doesn’t sound too hard, right? If you’d like to learn more before you start though, be sure to check out Twitter’s FAQs as well as their glossary to learn what a hashtag is or a direct message. And if you’re still scratching your head, here’s a primer from USAToday.com that breaks everything down. 

You know what though? I’ve found that the easiest way to get fluent in social media is to simply dive in and learn as you go. I promise that in no time you’ll be tweeting up a storm!