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What is Twitter?

A seagull stands on a laptop computer

Twitter, at its most basic, is a series of short online announcements or ‘tweets’. Want to know more? Then read on for our lowdown on this popular social network.

WebWise Team | 10th October 2012

When the inventors of Twitter first came up with the idea, they envisaged a series of announcements – punchy 140-character comments on what members were doing at the time. This element of it is still there, but there’s a lot more to it now.

Get tweeting!

To join Twitter is simple. You go to the Twitter website, enter a user name and password and some other details, select a picture to illustrate your ’tweets’ and start entering text into a box and hitting “send”. That’s the most basic form of it.

You might, on the other hand, see that someone else has said something interesting. In that case, you hit the “reply” button, and they will see what you’ve said, even if they’re not deliberately following your account.

The first word they’ll see is @theirname and then your text. They might reply to you. If they start following you, and you them, you can exchange private messages – which is useful if you don’t have someone’s email address.

As the number of people you follow grows, you might want a bit of free software to help you manage all the messages. Tweetdeck, Twhirl and the official Twitter app are all popular programs which run on your computer and grab messages from everyone you’re following, all those that mention you specifically and your private messages - and arrange them into easy-to-read columns and categories.

Don’t forget...

Twitter happens in real time, 24 hours a day. Expect to miss stuff if it’s not sent direct to you. Be succinct – you only have 140 characters (including spaces in between text) to say anything. Try not to repeat yourself, don’t use it just to sell goods and services (people soon get tired of the hard sell) and you should soon be picking up new online acquaintances almost daily.

Have fun with it, but like any social media once you've posted your message it could go anywhere - so proceed with a little caution.

The WebWise 'W'

WebWise Team

WebWise was first launched in 1998 and since then has helped people of all ages to learn about and love the internet.