Learning Twitter: How to Start (1 of 2)

There are several steps to using Twitter, and often, people lump them all together.  We give you the slow approach.  This blog post is written for your mom, or for someone who is intimidated or has put off using Twitter.  You might want to have them read Why You Should Use Twitter, first.  Among other things, Twitter gives you news immediately, and you can know exactly who is giving it to you.

  • How to sign up and start using Twitter
  • How to search in Twitter
  • How to say something in Twitter

How to Sign up and Start Using Twitter

To start using twitter

  1. Go to twitter.com and register. Enter your phone number  or email address and a not-easy-to-steal password (Use capitals, numbers, and symbols).  If you enter a phone number, use your mobile number, and Twitter will text you to make sure you exist.  If you enter an email address, you will continue using it for a login. Twitter login/password security is safe.This is what you see when you go to Twitter for the first time.
  2. Twitter will ask you to choose a name.  You can change this later on, so don’t worry!Our Twitter name (sometimes called “Handle,” but really, only by geeks) for Kitchen Table Activism is @activism4us.  We chose this because you only have 140 characters for Twitter, and @kitchentableactivism was really long.  So we typed in a few other names, and found one that wasn’t taken. Your @name is always in lower case.  Choose a fairly short @name.
  3. When your @name and password are selected, just click Get Started. Twitter creates your account and displays your home page.This is the Twitter home page for our brand new Kitchen Table Activism account(@activism4us).With a new Twitter account, you will have 0 Tweets, 0 Following (people you are following), and 0 Followers.  will change. Keep reading.
  4. How do you get to the information on Twitter?  Twitter uses a “browse and subscribe” model.  You can search for a topic and see what or who looks interesting, or you can search for people by name.  If you find someone interesting, you click on their name, and then click “Follow.” When you click “Follow,” you’re subscribing to that person’s tweets.  Once you follow people, then when you click on your own home page,  see tweets from people you follow.  It’s like your own private newspaper. You can always change your mind by going back to their name, clicking it, and then clicking “Unfollow.”Every time you follow a person, you will see one number added to your “Following” list.You don’t have to follow people you find.  You can just go to Twitter and search for a topic.  The tweets often are the first way to see newspaper articles and commentary.  Sometimes, those people will follow you back. When this happens, you will see a number added to your “Follower” list.

Writing Something in Twitter

You’re now ready to write in Twitter.

  1. Click on the upper left side of the Twitter page, on the house.  That’s your home.
    On your home page, Twitter displays an empty space to type into, often with a question.  Today’s question is: “What’s happening?” Go ahead.  Type an observation about the world.  Try “It’s freezing here today,” or “I can’t wait for my coffee.”  Or even “I’m learning to resist better by getting up on Twitter.”  You might get some responses!  (Try not to write “this is my first tweet.”  Twitter works best when you write interesting things.)
  2. Send a tweet to someone! Type in @donald … and you will see a list of Donalds.  Donald J. Trump, known on Twitter as @realdonaldtrump is first on the list.  Do you see the little blue mark next to his name?  Twitter does that with celebrities.  That means that Twitter has checked and verified that it’s really him writing the tweets.  If there’s no blue mark, then it’s probably a fake account.  People make fake accounts to make jokes, make money, or just to amuse themselves.  Just avoid them.When you send a tweet to @realdonaldtrump don’t make it too abusive.  @realdonaldtrump is known for blocking Americans who disagree with him!  (That’s not to say that you need to agree with him.) If a Twitter user blocks you, then you cannot see their tweets and they cannot see yours.  Here are instructions for blocking someone.
  3. You can also send a tweet and copy yourself.  For example, we might type: “You’ve done a great job today @activism4us!” If you copy yourself, you’ll see your tweet on your homepage.
  4. A third way to tweet, is to send a direct message to someone.  To do this, click on their name and click the message button beneath their name.
  5. In every message, you can include one or more hashtags.  Like this! “We here @activism4us want to welcome everybody who wants to #resist and #protect the #USA.”  Because we included hashtags, our message appears in all searches for #USA or #resist.

Finding Information in Twitter

You’re ready to go, but we’ll leave you with a bit more information about finding information on Twitter.  It’s really an amazing tool.

  1. Let’s search for a topic.  We’re searching for “Bears Ears.” You can search for just the plain name, or you can put a hashtag in front of it, like this: #bearsears.Here’s an example of what happens if you type “bears ears” into a Twitter window:
  2. And here’s an example of what happens if you use a hashtag and type #bearsears.  In this case, you see different information, but it’s similar.Take a look at left column, above.  Looking underneath “Who to Follow,” do you see those blue “Follow” buttons next to Sprout Social and Protect Bears Ears?  You can follow those sites just by clicking that Follow button.  This is a new feature that Twitter has added to make it easier to follow people.  You will see lists of names, and you can click on however many you want.
  3. Take a look at the picture right above this sentence again. Do you see the section on the left called “Trends for you?”  Well often, that contains really stupid stuff that people are just having fun with, like #YoMemeJokes.  Or it contains breaking news, like #umathurman.  You’ll also see #DiGiornoNotDelivery.  This means that DiGiorno has purchased this hashtag and wants people to buy pizzas for the upcoming Super Bowl this Sunday.
  4. So what happens if you search for something stupid?  You’ll just see a list of people who have used that hashtag. Then you can search for something else.
  5. Those are the basics of using Twitter.  Really, you don’t have to worry about any of the rest of it for now.  Have fun, and be active.
  6.  One final thing.  We introduce you to Twitter so that you can use some specific Twitter tools.  So the next blog post is called  “Who To Follow,” which might be of interest.

More Information

Here’s an extremely detailed description called “Mom, This is How Twitter Works,” from a young writer on the internet. She explains what the @’s and the #’s mean, and how to use them.

Twitter sounds like a silly idea, but it has powerful uses. Created in 2006, it was a message board for short messages (140 characters), also called a microblogging platform.  Twitter quickly became popular.  One of the most interesting things about Twitter is that an ordinary person can simply send a tweet to a celebrity or a corporation — and get read.  Twitter is also very useful to track trends, track politics (especially the politics of today,) and to track what’s happening during an emergency, either natural or political.

In the 2018 mistaken missile alarm sent to all Hawaiian residents, Twitter was the platform that was able to reassure people first.  8 minutes after the alarm was sent, Twitter searchers saw a posting from a man who said that he’d called the Civil Defense number and it was mistaken.  It took almost 30 more minutes until the government contacted people to send the all-clear.

Today, Twitter is known for Donald Trump’s free-form postings, but it allows individuals to speak in a voice that will carry, and to find like-minded people all over the world.

Here’s a great article on what you can use Twitter for.

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