How To: Get Started With Twitter

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Are you new to Twitter? Do you keep feeling you’re missing out by not being on it but aren’t sure how to start? This post tells you what common Twitter terms mean, and how you can make use of Twitter features.

The Basics

  • Your “Twitter handle” is your Twitter username.
  • When you tweet, it shows up on the Twitter timeline of everyone who is following you.
  • Tweets of people you are following will show up on timeline in chronological order. Most of the time you will only see the last 30-40 tweets and earlier ones will be ignored.
  • So, tweet at times when more of your followers are likely to be online.
  • If someone is not following you, they can still come to your profile and see all your tweets (unless your profile is private).
  • You can add links or upload photos and use them in your tweets.


  • You can retweet any tweet — you can see the “Retweet” button when you hover over a tweet or click on it.
  • A retweet will show up in your followers’ timelines with the name (and profile picture) of the person who originally tweeted it, with a note that you retweeted it.

Twitter retweet: when you share someone else's tweet with your followers


  • Using @<twitter_handle> links to that person’s profile. This is known as a “mention.”
  • If you mention someone,  that person can see your tweet under the Connect menu, and depending on their Twitter settings might get an email and/or push notification on a mobile app.
  • You can mention someone when you are tweeting about them or about things they might be interested in. Be careful with this: don’t spam!
  • If you start your tweet by mentioning someone (@<twitter_handle), then that tweet will show up only on the timelines of users who are following you both. (However, anyone can come to your profile and still see that tweet, so it’s not private.)
  • You can mention more than one person in a tweet.

Mention someone on Twitter to catch their attention


  • You can reply to a tweet by hitting Reply on any tweet and that new tweet will start with that person’s Twitter handle. In Twitter terms, this becomes a Conversation.
  • Replying to a tweet is a good way to get into a conversation.
  • You could reply to any compliments or positive mentions with a note of thanks.

Twitter conversation: when you reply to someone's tweet and start a discussion

Direct Message (DM)

  • You can send a private message to anyone who is following you.
  • During a Twitter conversation, if you want to share personal information like your email address or phone number, send a direct message instead of a tweet.
  • Many people don’t use this feature so don’t rely on this for any urgent communication (or at least inform the other person that you are sending a DM).
  • There will be a small mark under the “Me” menu item when you have unread direct messages.

DM: A direct message on Twitter goes to the recipient's inbox.

Hashtags (#)

  • Add # as a prefix to the word you want to highlight in your tweet. It’s like tagging your tweet — you’re telling Twitter what category your tweet falls into. For example, we often use hashtags like #marketing, #SEO, or #Pune.
  • Don’t use spaces or punctuation marks in a hashtag, else the hashtag will be broken.
  • Most events publicize official hashtags for the event. If you are attending an event that has a official hashtag, you should include that in your tweet. Other attendees or interested people are likely to search Twitter for that hashtag and you tweet will be included along with others’.
  • Or you can follow a hashtag to see what others are tweeting on and reply or mention those people to start a conversation.

Hashtags are ways to tag or categorize your tweets so other users can find them easily or you can participate in discussions around a specific topic.


  • Twitter publishes a list of top topics (global as well as region wise) based on what people are tweeting about.
  • You can click on any trending topic and see what people are tweeting about that topic. This is a good way to find people interested in that topic.

Twitter trends: you can select for global or local. It gives you the most popular topics people are tweeting about.Too much? Don’t get overwhelmed: just start tweeting and you’ll figure it out.

What else should you know about Twitter? Get the Beginner’s Guide To Twitter to find out!

The Beginner's Guide to Twitter

About Nilesh

Nilesh has worked in the IT industry for nine years, and is both a PMP and an MBA in marketing. He has worked in and with small businesses, managing projects, leading teams, and improving business processes.At Markitty, Nilesh translates requirements into tasks and timelines. He jumps into whatever is needed, whether it’s marketing, design, or technical architecture. He also keeps the others sane with his intermittent wisecracking.