Posted by Mary Beth Dahl on February 5, 2014
I think it’s safe to say Twitter has settled into a secure position of one of the top social media platforms available today.
Launched in 2006, Twitter provides its users with the ability to interact with one another using short updates called Tweets. Tweets are limited to 140 characters. That’s it. This blog post is already too long.
You would think this keeps people from going on and on about things, but that’s not the case. There are all kinds of ways to link people up with more information in those 140 characters. Why 140? Because that’s a good size for a text, and Twitter has found its sweet spot with people texting their tweets. People like me who have to get on their computer and sign in to tweet are way behind the times.
Unlike Facebook, there is no sending of friend requests on Twitter. However, people are known to tweet a “Please follow me back.” Instead of friends, you have followers. Anybody can follow you, unless you have your account locked (protected). Protected accounts require followers to be approved.
Having a protected account is kind of frowned on in the Twitter world, since the entire point is to get connected with a bunch of people. It’s all about give and take. Protected accounts also keep your tweets private and only visible to your followers. You can follow whoever you want, but whoever can’t follow you. These accounts are indicated by a little lock by the person’s name on their profile page, and they also don’t show up in searches. (Note: I’ll mostly deal with the public accounts.)
The Quick Rundown:
Tweet – a post or status update, limited to 140 characters, appears in your timeline and on the timeline of anyone who follows you and is available to anyone with an internet connection and the ability to search key words. Your tweets can be retweeted, favorited, replied to, and emailed. (keep reading for more on all of that)
Timeline – the scrolling list of tweets that you make and that are made by everyone you follow. I’ve been told that serious Twitterers (or is it Twits?) will scroll all the way back to the last time they checked their feed. That baffles me cause there are THOUSANDS of tweets rifling their way through cyber space, and the more people you follow, the MORE tweets in your feed. Who has that kind of time? I usually only read about 5 minutes worth of tweets. It’s very random.
Follow – You follow someone when you click their follow button. You can follow anyone on Twitter unless they have one of those protected acocunts. When you follow someone, their tweets will appear in your feed.
Follower – A follower is anyone who follows you. And anyone can follow you. Your tweets will appear in your followers’ feed. Twitter is worldwide, so you can get followers from nearly everywhere…(not sure about Antarctica)
Follow Limits – There are follow limits because for a lot of people Twitter is an advertising platform and they are in the serious business of racking up follower numbers. There are even services you can subscribe to that will help you gain followers. To keep people from abusing the platform, Twitter imposes some sort of ratio dynamic on accounts once they reach a certain number of follows/followers (2,000?). Sorry no specifics here…it’s kind of vague.
@ – This symbol followed by someone’s twitter name will alert that person to your tweet. So if I wanted to wish Harry Styles happy birthday, I would tweet: @harry_styles Happy Birthday!!! These tweets are public (unless your account is protected).
# – The infamous hashtag lumps your tweets in with everyone’s tweets marked with that same hashtag. Hashtags seem to be the perfect way to keep up with people at a conference, ball game, or group event. If you search for that particular hashtag, you will be able to view and interact with everyone who has included that hashtag in their tweet whether you follow them or not.
Retweeting – When you read a tweet from someone else and want to share it, then you retweet it. There is a retweet button on every tweet. This will post the tweet (with the author’s name) on your feed and in the feeds of all of your followers.
Favorite – This is like the like button on Facebook. If you favorite a tweet. There is a “Favorites” category on your profile page where every tweet you’ve favorite is listed.
Reply to – If you want to respond to a specific tweet then you can click the “Reply to” button. This will post your tweet on your feed and on a running drop-down box connected to the original tweet. .
Verified – Twitter verifies accounts of celebrities, companies, school systems, etc., so that you can have confidence that those tweets are actually from that person. There are a lot of imposters out there, and Twitter tries to keep the confusion down by making sure that the real celebrity is easy to spot from the frauds. Verified accounts are marked with a blue check mark.
Some other things you should know:
Please add to the pro/con list with your own thoughts in the comments!