Twitter for Dummies

Hey everyone!

It has recently come to my understanding that many of my friends, both authors and bloggers, who are on Twitter still don’t really know how to USE Twitter.  I decided to take this opportunity to educate you a little further on how to get the most out of your Twitter account, 140 characters at a time.

The idea behind this post is not to make you feel like an idiot, but to start from square one, explain what I know, and maybe you learn something you weren’t aware of.  You can also skim through and share info you may think of that I don’t cover.   I would be happy to modify the post to add your additional info.  🙂

My goal is to help everyone get the absolute most that they can out of Twitter.  When working within the fine art of shameless self-promotion, Twitter is a fantastic tool that can be a great asset in getting your name out there.

So kick back, read through.  If you see something you already know, skip right on by it and you might find something you didn’t already know.


Jena PTPR Signature

Click here to download this document as a PDF.

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is considered “micro-blogging”.  A way for you to share your deepest or most random thoughts in 140 characters or less.  For those of us with a short attention span, it’s instant gratification.  You have the ability to share pictures, links, videos, or just text.  It’s up to you.

As of January 1, 2014*, Twitter had approximately 645,750,000 users worldwide.  Since its start in 2006, the average number of Tweets per day has gone from 20,000 to a blistering 58,000,000.

What does that mean for you?  Well, when promoting yourself or your services, the best advertising is free advertising.  Twitter gives you access to a form of free advertising which could potentially reach 645,750,000 different people.  It’s quick, easy, and requires far less time and effort than Facebook.

For authors in particular, I have found Twitter to be a great tool.  You’ve chosen a profession which is notorious for breeding a reclusive lifestyle.  Speaking from the point of view of a fan, we hate that.  The age of social media has given authors a way to keep in contact with their fan base and feel connected with them without always getting mauled in public.  Twitter allows fans to connect with the authors they love, get to know them in a way, but at the same time, keep it short and sweet.

This document will address the basics of Twitter, including every day functions and terms commonly used.

Let’s get started!

*Statistics obtained from http://statisticsbrain.com


Following & Followers

Your Followers are the people who follow you.  Everything you post to Twitter (a.k.a. tweet) shows up in their Tweet stream when they log in.

Whatever your reason for being on Twitter, there are lots of people to follow.  I personally run my own Twitter page.  On my Twitter page, everyone I am following, and those who follow me, are mostly book/reading/writing related.

Verified ProfileIf you’re planning to follow a favorite celebrity, check their website for a link to their Twitter or run a search of their name on Twitter and look for the account with a little teal checkmark next to the name (see left).  This mark on a profile means Twitter HQ has run a due diligence check and verified that they are who they say they are.  There are a LOT of fakes out there.  The more popular the celebrity, the more likely there are fake Twitter accounts under their name.

Another note on verified accounts – unless Twitter contacts you about being verified, you will NOT get verified.  Also, if you contact them about being verified, you will never be verified.  They state right in their policies that they basically put you on a block list if you bug them about being verified.

It doesn’t matter what your interest is, just run a search on Twitter for the keyword (i.e. “author”, “urban fantasy” “PNR” “paranormal romance”) and anything and everything related to the topic will come up.  From there, you can follow people who interest you.

When I decided who I wanted to follow, I sat down and made a list of all of my favorite authors, celebrities, etc., who I thought would be fun to follow.  About once a month, I go through and unfollow the folks who I find I didn’t enjoy having in my stream.

This “house cleaning” of the people you follow is a good idea simply for the fact that it keeps Twitter entertaining for you.  If you follow a ton of people who are of no interest to you, you will soon end up finding you no longer enjoy Twitter.  Keep it clean and you’ll never be bored!



Everyone on Twitter has a Twitter name, or “tag” as some call it.  If someone is talking to you, they would put @YourUserName.  This “@mention” notifies you that you’re being spoken to.  If you want to speak to someone, you do the same to them – @TheirUserName.  You can also include multiple @Mentions in one Tweet and all of the parties will be notified that they have a mention.

I make good use of this in regards to authors.  When I am reading an author’s book, I will Tweet something like:

“In the middle of reading #Framed by @AmberLNatusch!  Love this book!!!”

The author (in this case, Amber Lynn Natusch) would then receive a copy of that Tweet and he/she can reply or retweet if they want to.  I also include the author @Mention tags in the title of my book reviews when I publish them to my site so that they are able to see/read the review, reply or retweet if they’d like.

Please note, your replies to other users will not show up in your tweets by default.  If you’re writing career takes off, and people start @mentioning you with questions, the general public isn’t going to see your replies in their stream.  They would have to go out to your actual profile to see it.  A way around this is to put a period and then a space before the person’s tag.  This makes it so your reply shows up in the rest of your followers’ streams.  Here’s what those two scenarios would look like:

DON’T:             @AmberLNatusch Yes, I love using Twitter!

DO:                  . @AmberLNatusch Yes, I love using Twitter!

Just adding the period and space at the beginning tricks Twitter into posting it as a normal tweet, instead of posting it to your profile as a reply.


Direct Messages

Direct Messages, aka DM’s, are a way to privately message someone on Twitter.  This is a message that goes to directly to them in their private inbox, out of the public eye (as opposed to an @Mention that shows up on your profile if you don’t have the proper settings in place).

You can only send someone a DM if you are BOTH following each other.

This is a great feature that Twitter has put in place to cut down on SPAM messages.  Prior to this change in their system (implemented a few years ago), my DM box would get bombarded on a daily basis with SPAM messages.  Ever since the change was put into place, those people can’t message me anymore since I don’t mutually follow them.



Hash tags signify a conversation or searchable term.  In my example above, I said:

“In the middle of reading #Framed by @AmberLNatusch!  Love this book!!!”

If you notice the title of the book has a pound sign [#] in front of it.  That is a hash tag.  This signifies a keyword for a search.  If I were to send that Tweet and other users on Twitter search ‘Framed’, my Tweet (along with any others with the ‘#Framed’ hash tag) would come back as results.

An important note regarding hash tags:  Never put spaces in hash tags!!

If you put a space in a hash tag, the tag stops at the space.

The Wrong Way:  #True Blood

In this example, the searchable term ends up being just the word ‘true’ and that’s it because of the space.

The Right Way: #TrueBlood

Now your searchable term is TrueBlood and your tweet will show up in the stream for anyone who searches for the show.


Retweets & Quote Tweets

I think it is safe to say that every one is familiar with the term ‘share’ in Facebook speak.  Someone posts a status, comment, picture, or video and you can click a little link on it which posts it to your profile.

Twitter’s version of ‘share’ is the Retweet.  If you see a Tweet that you want to share or just show your appreciation of, you can click Retweet (often referred to on Twitter as “RT”), and it will repost it to Twitter for all of your followers to see.

I have found that a lot of the book reviews I post to Twitter end up getting Retweeted by the author of the book to their followers.

A Quote Tweet is along the same idea except that it allows you to RT, but also allows you to add your own comments as well.  Some people do this instead of just replying to the Tweet.  I use Quote Tweets a lot when I’m playing on Twitter.


Live Chats

Live Chats are not really what they sound like.  Live Chat always makes me think of chatrooms or Skype.  A Live Chat on Twitter is done a bit differently.

For a Twitter Live Chat, a hash tag is chosen in advance of the chat date.  For an example, let’s use #Framed.

You let your followers know what the Live Chat hash tag is and then you say “Post your questions with the hash tag #Framed and I will answer between X-Time and X-Time.”

At the designated time, you run a search for the hash tag and all the Tweets pertaining to that hash tag will come up and you can reply to them.  There is also a MUCH easier way to do the Live Chat through Tweetdeck so be sure to read that section for information regarding the Live Chat options.


Follow Friday

Follow Fridays are a weekly event on Twitter.  They happen every Friday (did you see that coming???).  On Fridays, using the hash tag “#FF”, you can then list out people you follow who you feel others should follow.  It’s an invitation of sorts.

When you do a #FF post, as with an @Mention, you have to include the @ symbol before the person’s user name.  This links the #FF post to them so others can click on their name and follow.

Each Friday (when I remember to do it), I do a #FF post which lists out the Twitter names of all of the reviewers on the Pure Textuality site.

You can also include an additional hash tag to say who the people are.  However, the additional hash tag is not necessary.  Here’s an example of a #FF post I would do to spotlight Indie Authors:

“#FF – #IndieAuthors @AmberLNatusch  @BethDolgner @jrlallo @HTJohnston  @ErikLynd  @kendrybird”

Some people will start what are called #FF Trains.  A #FF Train is just like a regular #FF post except that you Retweet the #FF post you were mentioned in, remove your own name and add the name of the person who mentioned you in the #FF.  It’s a gimmick to get more and more followers.  However, keep in mind, the more people you follow, the more Tweets you have to wade through which may not be of any interest to you.  This could result in you quickly losing interest in your Twitter feed.



Tweet Deck

Twitter has a number of ways you can use it.  Web-based (www.twitter.com), apps (Hootesuite, Twitter for Blackberry, iTweet, UberTwitter, etc), programs…they’re all available.  If you have a cell phone, you can even set your cell number up on the account so you can text your Tweet in.  Every smart phone platform out there has a Twitter app that you can use.

TweetDeck on my computer is my absolute favorite way to use Twitter for many reasons.  First, the program is free, so if you use Twitter and abhor their site as I do, TweetDeck may be the solution for you.

(*side note:  I know for sure TweetDeck is also available for the Andoid phone platform and it may also be available for iPhone but I’m not positive on that)

TweetDeck is cool for a lot of reasons.  One of them is it allows you to add more than one account to it.  And not just Twitter!  You can add you Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc.  You also have the ability to add MULTIPLE Twitter accounts to it.  Once you add the accounts, each one shows in the top of the program window and whichever one(s) is highlighted, when you update your status, it pushes to those highlighted accounts.  For the art of shameless self promotion, this is a WONDERFUL tool because you can manage most of your social media in ONE PLACE.

Another great thing about TweetDeck is it feeds real time like a stock ticker.  The Tweets show up as Twitter receives them.  So, say you’re doing a Twitter live chat, there is no requirement to hit refresh.  The Tweets just show up.

Along that same line of thinking, if you are doing a Twitter live chat, TweetDeck gives you the ability to set up a column that will shown your real time results for your chat phrase.  So if you Live Chat hash tag is #Framed, you create a column for Framed and it continuously searches for any Tweets containing that hash tag.  It makes participating in the Live Chat WORLDS easier!!


Pushing From Other Platforms

Twitter is now one of the biggest social media platforms there is available to the public.  This has made it much easier to link to other media platforms.

If you have another social media website that you use, check your account settings on that site for the availability to link that social media to your Twitter account.  This link will allow you to “push” to your Twitter account or to “push” from Twitter to other social media.

For example, I have my WordPress (the editing site I use to maintain my blogs) linked to my Twitter account.  Every time I publish a post to one of my blogs, the title of the post and a link to access it are automatically posted to my Twitter account.

I do not have a list of website services that allow you to link to your Twitter (due to the fact that the social media sites change their mind of a regular basis as to whether to allow it or not), but I know all of the most popular blog sites allow it (i.e. WordPress, Blogspot, etc.)

Just check your account settings.  It may be listed as linked accounts, sharing, publicize, etc.  Something along those lines.


Twitter Widgets

Widgets are a wonderful little tool if you have a website of any kind.  A widget is a setting in the building of your site or blog that allows you to put your live Twitter feed right on your site.

This is important to do.  Here’s why.

Every time I am about to post a review of a book to my site, I immediately run to the author’s website to see if they have a Twitter account.  If they do, I put their Twitter tag at the end of the post title so when it pushes to Twitter, they get the @Mention and can retweet the link if they’d like.  (Did you understand that sentence????  Yay!!!!!)

When I don’t find a Twitter icon or a Twitter widget on their site, I assume that they don’t have one.  Since there are so many fake Twitter accounts for celebrities (see red notes in Following & Followers), it is sometimes a giant pain in the hind parts to try to track down the “real” Twitter account.  So, if it’s not there on their site, I don’t bother following them.

Having your Twitter feed on your site gives your fans the heads up that they can connect with you.  That connection makes you a desirable “celebrity” in a fan’s eyes.  One of my favorite (and sometimes least favorite) things about Khloe Kardashian is that she’s always on Twitter.  Unfortunately, she’s ALWAYS on Twitter so if you follow her, be prepared to see her name take over your Twitter stream.  But that openness to connect with the public is one of the reasons I started following her to begin with.  It’s also the same reason I started following Anne Rice, Patricia Briggs, Lauren Kate, Richelle Mead, Jeaniene Frost and many other authors that I just love to pieces.  Sadly, Charlaine Harris has not come over to the dark side yet.


That’s all I’ve got for now.  I hope this gives you a good jump start in getting the most you can out of Twitter.  Once you’re there, don’t forget to follow me @PureTextuality!

DISCLAIMER:  Jena Gregoire, Pure Textuality and Pure Textuality Public Relations in no way claim ownership of Twitter or the Twitter brand.  Twitter font obtained from http://www.flamingtext.comTwitter statistics obtained from http://www.statisticbrain.com.


Statistic Verification  
Source: Twitter, Huffington Post, eMarketer  
Research Date: 1.1.2014  
Twitter is an online social networking website and microblogging service that allows users to post and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”. Launched in July of 2006 by Jack Dorsey. Twitter is now in the top 10 most visted internet sites.  
Twitter Company Statistics Data
Total number of active registered Twitter users 645,750,000
Number of new Twitter users signing up everyday 135,000
Number of unique Twitter site visitors every month 190 million
Average number of tweets per day 58 million
Number of Twitter search engine queries every day 2.1 billion
Percent of Twitter users who use their phone to tweet 43 %
Percent of tweets that come from third party applicants 60%
Number of people that are employed by Twitter 2,500
Number of active Twitter users every month 115 million
Percent of Twitters who don’t tweet but watch other people tweet 40%
Number of days it takes for 1 billion tweets 5 days
Number of tweets that happen every second 9,100
Twitter Annual Advertising Revenue Revenue
2013 $405,500,000
2012 $259,000,000
2011 $139,000,000
2010 $45,000,000

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1 Comment

  1. […] leave you with the link to Twitter For Dummies, a free document created by me for my bloggers that you can either read online or download […]

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