Twitter is a free service where you can sign up to get news and information from people in real time by “following” them. If you have read blogs or used RSS feeds, then this concept of “following” people on Twitter is very similar to “following” a blog and getting the blogger’s updates or subscribing to an RSS feed for current news.
With a Twitter account, you can also send out short messages called “Tweets” (up to 140 characters) to the public or only to people who subscribe to your Twitter feed by following you. You can change who can see your Tweets by using Twitter’s account settings.
Who to Follow
If you’re not sure who you would like to get updates from, consider these suggestions:
- Family members
- Businesses or organizations you’re interested in
- Parody accounts (These are often accounts for fictional people that post humorous Tweets.)
Tip: If you wish to follow a particular celebrity on Twitter, look for a checkmark by their Twitter username to indicate that is the celebrity’s verified genuine account. Many people will impersonate famous figures online and it can sometimes be hard to verify which account is legitimate. It is also a good idea to make sure the celebrity uses Twitter at all.
You can also “unfollow” a Twitter account to no longer receive updates from its feed. Following anybody on Twitter is optional but allows you to stay up-to-date with their messages.
What to Tweet
Here are some ideas for your Tweets:
- Post links to a webpage, image, or video (Copy and paste a link into the box where you write your Tweet.)
- Share what is happening live at an event
- Reply to people’s tweets
- Write to one or more people (This is done using the @ symbol followed by a person’s Twitter username)
- Re-post people’s tweets (This is known as a Re-tweet and often appears in feeds with “RT:” before the re-posted Tweet)
As with following people, Tweeting from your account is also voluntary and not required.
How to Sign Up
Check out Twitter’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for new Twitter users on their Support website. If a classroom environment works better for you the San Mateo County Library also offers computer classes and Twitter is one of them.
Jessica Chung is a MLIS student and an intern for San Mateo County Library.