You might think Twitter is just a place where people post Throwback Thursday photos, but it's not. With over 170 million active users, Twitter has become a major source for news and real-time updates around the world. In 140 characters, or less, Twitter users are able to spread ideas and trends like wildfire.
But when you first start wading through your Twitter feed, there are certain aspects that can seem overwhelming. Twitter has its own its own rule book and practically its own language. If you don't catch on, you'll have a hard time fitting in.
Thankfully, Twitter has been around long enough that some "best practices" can finally be established. Certain folks out there have figured out how to use this platform most effectively. And, guess what? We're one of them.
With more than 92,000 fans following Kim Komando, we've learned a thing or two about this social media platform. So, here are five totally tweetable tips to help you use Twitter like a pro.
Note: To get started with Twitter, go to twitter.com and click the "Sign Up" button. You can also grab the Twitter app for your Android, Apple or Windows gadget.
1. Learn the lingo
Beyond the basic navigation functions, Twitter is the place where a lot of new terminology was born. So, to communicate effectively, you'll need to understand it. Right of the top, you'll first need to know the following:
- Tweet: A message on Twitter is called a "tweet" and they can only be 140 characters long
- Timeline: As you tweet, your messages will show on your timeline
- Follow: Tweeting interesting and relevant content regularly will attract an audience of followers
Beyond those basics, there also several symbols and acronyms you'll see often in Twitter. We've created a quick guide to help you understand them:
Although these are some that you'll see most often, there are others that might stump you if you're not ready for them. Here are some to watch out for:
- b/c = because
- BFN = bye for now
- BTW = by the way
- EM = email
- FB = Facebook
- FTW = for the win
- FWD = forward
- FWIW - for what it's worth
- HTH = hope that helps
- IRL = in real life
- J/K = just kidding
- LMK = let me know
- LOL = laugh out loud
- OH = overheard
- TMB = tweet me back
- TMI = too much information
- YW = you're welcome
- CX = correction
- TL;DR = too long, didn't read
2. Customize your header to create your own brand
You don't have to own a business to create your own personal brand, and customizing your Twitter header is one of the easiest ways to do it. Use your header to show off your personality, but still look professional. And, if you don't feel comfortable creating your own graphics, use a site like Canva that has hundreds of designs that will work for you.
To update your header image, follow these steps:
- Log in to your Twitter account.
- Click "Edit profile"
- Click "Change your header photo"
- Follow the prompts to upload your photo, click "Open"
- Adjust the position and scale of your photo, then click "Apply"
If you'd like to personalize your profile even more, be sure to include a profile photo, personal bio and a link to your personal website. You can also customize your theme (or Twitter background) in your profile settings.
3. Search for things happening locally
Twitter has so many users that it's now being used to report illness outbreaks, and even earthquakes. And while that's pretty impressive, it also means that on any given day, there are millions of tweets to sift through.
But you don't need to be a super computer to find out what's happening locally. You just need to use this clever search trick.
To find local content on Twitter, type the following when you search:
near: "[city] [state]" [search term]
Here's an example:
Using this search trick will cause Twitter to return results of tweets from nearby Twitter users about the topic you've specified. Our results from the search "near: 'Phoenix Arizona' music" pulled up local bands, event listings and even a musician looking for a new lead singer. It's a great way to stay on top of what's happening in your community.
You can also search locally by typing in your search term, hitting "Enter," then clicking on the "More options" drop down. There, you'll find the option to filter your search results by clicking "Near you."
4. Use keyboard shortcuts to save time
To make navigating the site easier, Twitter has included several keyboard shortcuts for you. But, chances are, you haven't learned them all. Using these shortcuts reduces the amount of time it takes to complete tasks on Twitter, because you don't have to jump back and forth from your mouse to your keyboard.
Watch this video for a quick overview of the best keyboard shortcuts to use:
- j = next tweet
- k = previous tweet
- Enter = drill down into, or close a selected tweet
- Space bar = page down
- Shift + Space bar = page up
- / = jump to search box
- . = jump to top of page
- g + h = go home
- g + r = go to your mentions
- g + p = go to your profile
- g + m = go to your direct messages
- g + u (then search) = view any user's timeline
- f = favorite a tweet
- r = reply to a tweet
- t = retweet a tweet
- m = send a direct message
- n = compose a new tweet
- Escape = cancel
- ? = pull up a cheat sheet with all of these keyboard commands
5. Shorten links to save space in your tweets
One of Twitter's key features is the 140 character limit on all tweets, and while this limit does save us all from excessive Twitter rants, it also means there's not much space. And, if you'd like to share a link in one of your tweets, that means your character count is even lower.
To help combat this, rather than copy and paste links directly into your tweet, paste them first into a link shortener. Link shorteners do exactly as they say, they take long links and shorten them. The links will still take you to the same place, they'll just be reworked into a compact form.
Here's an example:
The full URL for this article is: http://www.komando.com/happening-now/340852/top-story-another-hospital-data-breach-affects-1300-patients-in-texas
While the shortened form is: http://bit.ly/22q3H26
To create this link, we used a free link shortening site called Bitly.com. With Bitly, you simply paste your link into the shortener and a shorter link will be generated in seconds. You can also create a free account to keep track of each shortened link you create. This is beneficial because Bitly then tracks the traffic, and you can see how many people clicked your link.
Shortened links will look like this in your tweets:
One clear sign your Android has a virus https://t.co/o8gpLfq72l
— Kim Komando (@kimkomando) December 23, 2015
Alright, now you've learned how to use Twitter like a boss - but there's still one thing left to do. When you start using Twitter, before you get caught up in the tweets and the hashtags, take a few seconds to follow @KimKomando.
Here are three good reasons why you should:
1. Special promo codes
As a follower of @KimKomando, one of the biggest perks is that you'll have access to special promo codes that Kim tweets out. These promo codes include special pricing on select items in the Komando Shop, and even coupon codes. You won't want to miss them.
2. Contest announcements
If you listen to the Kim Komando Show, receive Kim's newsletter or frequently visit Komando.com, then you know there are always contests and giveaways going on. Twitter is the place where these contests are announced, as well as the contest winners.
3. Direct updates from Kim
While some public figures leave the tweeting to their PR reps, Kim manages her own Twitter account to connect directly with her audience. Every tweet is hand-selected and personalized by Kim herself, so you can rest assured the tips aren't coming from some intern at the office.