How-To Twitter for Dummies


If you haven’t figured out how to use Twitter by now, which surprisingly more people still don’t than do, here are the basic ins and outs of how it works. Here’s a quick “How-To Twitter for Dummies” article to get you started.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is the ultimate social networking tool. Aside from the occasional advertisement in your feed published by Twitter, it is ultimately clutter free. You follow who you want, therefor you only see posts by the people you choose. There is no “liking” or “commenting” on the posts creating the cluster-efs that you see on other social networking sites.

It allows you to say what you want publicly without having to accept friendships or be bothered by commentary. Though you can respond to someone else’s Tweet it doesn’t mean that the person will see it or even respond to it (depending, of course, on who you are Tweeting – Hugh Jackman has been a little stand-offish towards me lately).

Here we go!

Once you create an account (I recommend using the same usernames for Twitter, Instagram, etc, making tagging between different social networks less complicated), start finding people to follow. You can do this more easily by linking to your Facebook or address book, but you’ll probably want to turn off the feature that posts every Tweet to your timeline (instructions on how to turn that off are below).

Terminology for Twitter:

Tweeter: Person that tweets.

Tweeps: People that follow each other from one social network site to another.

Tweets: Posts on Twitter.

Tweeting: Act of posting a Tweet.

Tweetup: A physical gathering of Twitter users.

Correct: Tweet me, twitter me

Incorrect: Twerp me, twat me, twittle me, t-bomb me

Some other lingo:

  • @ signs are used to tag a user in a tweet. You can search for people by their  @username or their actual name.
  • # signs are called “hashtags”. They are used to put a word or phrase into a category. You can click or search hash tags to see who is talking about the same subject(s). Say you hash tag #epicfail, you can click on it and see everyone else that is tagging #epicfail at the same time. Works really well when you are going to a concert and you can see what’s going on as it’s going on.
  • Trending is what happens when a lot of people are talking about the same subject at the same time. Like when the Olympics start, I’m sure that #2012Olympics is going to be trending a lot.
  • Retweet (or RT) is the two arrows going in a circle when you hover your curser over someone’s tweet. It will post the tweet into your thread so that your followers can see it.
  • The “Favorite” star is used two different ways, depending on the user. First, and what it was designed for, it is used to bookmark a tweet so you can refer back to it later. Second, it’s used as a “Like” button is used on Facebook.
  • If you see a little blue check mark by a username that is telling you that that username is a verified celebrity/company account approved by Twitter. So you know you that you are not following someone claiming to be someone they are not.

Still feel like a Twitter Dummy? Here’s a rundown on your Twitter home page:

Twitter for Dummies

  1. Your profile box. Shows your number of tweets, who you are following and who is following you. The type box below is where you compose your tweets. You can attach a picture there or check in to a location (powered by 4Square).
  2. Your news feed. Shows your tweets and the people you are following’s tweets in chronologic order.
  3. Suggests who to follow. I’m not going to lie, I really like who they just suggested for me 😉
  4. What is currently trending. Usually has a promoted trend at the top. Looks like the Kardashians’ #RiseandGrind is up there again…
  5. Where you go to search for users either by name or username.
  6. Where you go to discover what people are talking about that’s not on the top trends list. Like if you want to see who’s talking about #HarryPotter, but you didn’t want to tweet about it, go here and type it in the search box.
  7. Another place to compose a tweet.
  8. Your profile and privacy settings.
  9. General search box. I don’t like going here because it give too broad of a search. I used the “Connect” and “Discover” tabs for more efficient searches.

Profile Options:

  • Direct messages – I never use, but can see it being useful to contact a company directly rather than a public tweet.
  • Lists – probably got the idea from Google+’s Circles, it works the same. You can create a list called “Family” and only put your family members in there, making targeting groups with certain tweets easy. Check out my “How To use Twitter Lists for Dummies” for more information on how to use the “List” feature.
  • Help – where you go when I forget to mention something in this post.
  • Keyboard shortcuts – a list of short cuts for those full-time social networkers.
  • Settings – this is were you manage your profile, websites, mobile notifications, email notifications, apps, and profile design.
  • Last is your Sign Out button.

Other notes:

  • You can only use 140 characters per tweet, therefore making it a “micro blog”.
  • One question I get frequently: “How do I turn off automatic publishing to my Facebook?”. Go to number 8 above > “Profile” > “Facebook” > Turn off auto publish. Simple as that.
  • You can set your tweets to private. It allows only people you let follow you see your tweets. Pretty much enabling the “Friendship Request” option. You can do this by going to number 8 above > “Account” > “Tweet Privacy” > click the box next to “Protect My Tweets”.
  • If you set your tweets to private then your followers can not “retweet” or “quote retweet” your posts. A way around that is simply copying and pasting their tweet into your text area and put quotations around it. Don’t forget to add the RT.
  • Using Twitter on you mobile phone is not much different. The main difference is the “Quote Retweet”. We do not have that function on our computers and it’s one I actually use a lot. So if I’m on my desktop and I want to quote retweet, I’ll have to get on my phone to do so.

Well I hope this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to post them below or you can TWEET me at @mframie 🙂 Now let’s see those tweets start flying!

Looking for more information? Check out my “How To use Twitter Lists for Dummies” article!

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Artist. Designer. Purely awesome. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @mframie

13 Responses to “How-To Twitter for Dummies”

  1. Henry #

    If I tweet to a user using the @, will everyone following that user be able to see my tweet?

    February 22, 2013 at 9:20 pm Reply
    • Melissa Frame #

      Hey Henry!

      The short answer is no.

      If you start your tweet with an “@username this is my message” then only that user, you and if someone is following you both will see it in their Twitter Feed. If someone goes to your actual page (ex. then everyone can see it there, just not in their feed.

      A way around this (because sometimes you want everyone to see what you are saying or replying to) is to put their username at the end of the tweet or somewhere in the middle (ex. “this is my message @username).

      And another way around it, that I rarely use, is to start the tweet with a period (ex. “.@username this is my message”). That throws Twitter off of starting the Tweet with that “@” sign and your tweet will show up in everyone’s feeds.

      Hope this helps!

      February 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm Reply
      • Henry #

        Thank you very much. Is there anyway I could easily send a tweet to everyone following a group? Like the Insession group for example
        I appreciate your help.

        February 25, 2013 at 5:48 pm Reply
        • Melissa Frame #

          I’m afraid they don’t have that feature right now. “Lists” (or groups) are for “Reading Tweets Only” according to the Twitter site. It used to be that you could Tweet to a list by writing the username then the list like “@Mframie/l-m-crew”, but it seems that they turned that feature off. Or if you owned a list, you could choose to “Tweet to a list” next to the send button on the “Compose Tweet” form, but that is no longer available to. I’m hoping they are working on a better system and that’s why it’s not available :/ I’ll update you when I know more!

          February 26, 2013 at 9:42 am Reply
          • Henry #

            Thank you again. I have another question, when someone says to contact them by sending a tweet to @InSession, what would be the proper format to sending a message to @InSession?Thank you very much.

            February 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm
          • Melissa Frame #

            My first thought would be to “Private Message” the company. Seeing as they have that option turned off, the proper format would just be to tweet the company with the message you are wanting to send with his handle included. For example, “@Insession I would like to be featured on your blog! Reply or Direct Message me to discuss.”

            February 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm
          • Henry #

            Thanks for your help, Melissa. I truly appreciate it.

            February 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm
          • Henry #

            Sorry Melissa, I need one point of clarification. If I send the following message, will everyone following @InSession be able to read my tweet? Here’s what I typed in twitter : @InSession my name is Henry. Will everyone following @InSession see my message of my name is Henry?
            Thanks again for your patience.

            February 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm
          • Melissa Frame #

            No worries 🙂 No, the only people that will see your tweet is you and @InSession, unless one of your followers is also following @Insession, then it will pop up on their feed. None of @InSession’s followers will see it. It just tags @Insession. Hope this helps.

            I also just wrote an article about Twitter Lists if you are interested –

            February 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm
          • Henry #

            Thank you Melissa, your article is awesome and very helpful.

            February 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm
  2. Peter #

    If a service makes me work to hard to join I’m not interested

    About a year ago I noticed TV programs that asked people to tweet in their comments or questions. But when I tried to do so I was told I had to be invited first. That’s stupid. How can I get invited by someone who doesn’t know i exist….it’s not like i could tweet for an invite?

    I simply gave wasn’t important enough for me to deal with such absurdities.And believe me I’m not the only person that can’t be bothered if somethuings not super simple and hassle free.

    March 13, 2013 at 2:30 am Reply


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