10 Twitter Tips and Tricks


icon_a According to Twitstats, about 32% of twitter users tweet through their browsers. All of us start off by using twitter through a browser. Its only as we follow more and more people and engage in more conversations that we start to feel the need for an application as the browser can no longer keep up with the constant updates.

For those who're still twittering through a web browser, figuring out shortcuts can make their twittering lives extremely easy. Even though the scale of tweets makes it viable for us to twitter through app's, there are some things that twitter does best through a browser.

1. @ Replies

The first and most common function of twittering is replying to a tweet. In a browser you have the option of clicking on an arrow to reply to a tweet. Typing @ before the username of the subject does the same. There is no space between @ and the username. Example: "@username This is how your reply would look".

Note: @username is counted in the 140 characters. The longer the username the lesser number of characters you'll have to type your message.

2. Direct Message

Popularly known as a DM, direct messages are private messages sent to you or vice versa. They are also 140 characters long and can only be seen by you and the user they're between. Instead of clicking on the DM option on the left sidebar menu on your twitter homepage and the selecting the username, it's easier to send a DM directly from the message window.

To send someone a direct message, type d, hit space and then type the username before typing out your message. It would look like: "d @username type your message here".

3. Re-tweet

If you've been on twitter for more than a day, you must have seen tweets starting with 'RT'. RT stands for retweet and is a way of promoting someone's tweet. To retweet, type RT followed by @username and then copy paste the tweet you're retweeting. Once done, it would look like this: "RT @username paste your tweet here."

4. # Tags

Hash tags took me the most time to figure out. Twitter is pretty basic. You can't group together users, or turn your followers into groups. One way of separating tweets about a particular topic or by a particular user is by adding # in front of it.

If you're talking about cricket and/or a certain tournament, adding a # before cricket would form a group. Now every time someone would tag cricket, the tweets would be grouped together. A hash tag for cricket would look like "#cricket".

To keep track of your hash tags, follow @hashtag. It will automatically follow you back and start tracking your tags. For more information, check out the Twitter Fan Wiki.

5. Twitter Search

Not only does twitter bring you in contact with people outside of your immediate circle, it lets you search it for specific topics too. Twitter Search is a great way to find out who's talking about the topic of your interest in real time. You can also search for hash tags through twitter search.

6. Following conversations

Twitter offers three options regarding the @ replies.
@ replies to the people I'm following: This is the default setting and only lets you see the tweets between people you follow. For example If A & B are having a conversation, you'll be able to see it because you follow them both. But if A was talking to C, you wouldn't see that conversation because you don't follow C.

No @ replies does not show any @ replies at all.

All @ replies: This option shows you all the replies of people you follow. If they're replying to people you don't follow, you'll see those too. All @ replies is the way to go if you want to be effective on twitter. It'll let you follow different conversations and help you discover new people. It will also make you more visible to the followers of the people you're conversing with.

To enable All @ replies go to Setting --> Notices --> Show me all @ replies.

7. Twitter Backgrounds:

Twitter offers the option to change backgrounds to make your profile more interesting. Go to Settings --> Designs. Choose from any of the 12 designs already available on twitter. You can also change your background image to one of your own and customize the colors according to your preference.

8. Twitter With SMS

If you're going to be away from your computer, twitter lets you stay connected by sending tweets via SMS. This option is less feasible as texting rates apply. Also now there are twitter app's designed for cell phones but when twitter first came out, this option was very popular as it lets you receive tweets on your cell phone too. If you want to enable this option, go to Settings.

9. Twitter Badges

If you have a blog or social networking profile (and I really hope you do) then you can publish your tweets on them through twitter badges or widgets.

10. Public Timeline

Want to know what the twitterverse is talking about at any given moment? Find out through the public timeline. To be honest, this one seems like a cool idea till you realize that people are tweeting in other languages too. Ones that I don't understand.

If you're a twittering noob, I hope you found this helpful. My next post "10 Twitter Tools" would be up on February 11th. If you have any questions and would like an answer to them, feel free to contact me.

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