Twitter isn't just a place where people post Throwback Thursday photos. With over 170 million active users, it has become a major source for news and real-time updates around the world. In 140 characters or less, Twitter users can spread ideas and trends like wildfire.
While some aspects of your Twitter feed may seem overwhelming at first, Twitter has been around long enough to have established some "best practices." So here are five totally tweetable tips to help you use Twitter like a boss.
1. Learn the lingo
A lot of terminology was born on Twitter, and you need to understand it to communicate effectively. Right off the top, you'll need to know the following:
- Tweet: Messages on Twitter are called "tweets.”
- Timeline: As you tweet, your messages show on your timeline.
- Follow: Tweeting interesting and relevant content regularly will attract followers.
Beyond those basics, there are several symbols and acronyms you'll see often on Twitter.
You'll see these most often, but there are others that might stump you if you're not ready for them. Here are some extras to watch out for:
- b/c = because
- BFN = bye for now
- BTW = by the way
- EM = email
- FB = Facebook
- FTW = for the win
- FWD = forward
- FWIW - for what it's worth
- HTH = hope that helps
- IRL = in real life
- J/K = just kidding
- LMK = let me know
- LOL = laugh out loud
- OH = overheard
- TMB = tweet me back
- TMI = too much information
- YW = you're welcome
- CX = correction
- TL;DR = too long, didn't read
2. Customize your header to create your own brand
You don't have to own a business to create your own brand. Customizing your Twitter header lets you show off your personality and still look professional. If you don't feel comfortable creating your own graphics, use a site like Canva, which has hundreds of designs that will work for you.
To update your header image, follow these steps:
1. Log in to your Twitter account.
2. Click "Edit profile."
3. Click "Change your header photo."
4. Follow the prompts to upload your photo. Click "Open."
5. Adjust the position and scale of your photo, then click "Apply."
If you'd like to personalize your profile even more, be sure to include a profile photo, personal bio and a link to your personal website. You can also customize your theme (or Twitter background) in your profile settings.
3. Search for things happening locally
Twitter has so many users that it's now being used to report illness outbreaks and even earthquakes. While that's pretty impressive, it also means that there are millions of tweets to sift through on any given day.
But you don't need a super computer to find out what's happening locally. You just need to use this clever search trick. To find local content on Twitter, type the following when you search:
near: "[city] [state]" [search term]
Here's an example: near: "Phoenix Arizona" music
This will cause Twitter to return results of tweets from nearby Twitter users about the topic you've specified. The results from my search near: “Phoenix Arizona” music pulled up local bands, event listings and even a musician looking for a new lead singer.
You can also search locally by typing in your search term, hitting "Enter," clicking on the "More options" drop down and clicking on “Near you.” It's a great way to stay on top of what's happening in your community.
4. Use keyboard shortcuts to save time
To make navigating the site easier, Twitter has included several keyboard shortcuts for you. But chances are you haven't learned them all. Using these shortcuts reduces the time it takes to complete tasks because you don't have to jump back and forth between your mouse and your keyboard.
Here are some of the best keyboard shortcuts to use:
- j = next tweet
- k = previous tweet
- Enter = drill down into, or close a selected tweet
- Space bar = page down
- Shift + Space bar = page up
- / = jump to search box
- . = jump to top of page
- g + h = go home
- g + r = go to your mentions
- g + p = go to your profile
- g + m = go to your direct messages
- g + u (then search) = view any user's timeline
- f = favorite a tweet
- r = reply to a tweet
- t = retweet a tweet
- m = send a direct message
- n = compose a new tweet
- Escape = cancel
- ? = pull up a cheat sheet with all of these keyboard commands
5. Shorten links to save space in your tweets
One of Twitter's key features is the 140-character limit on all tweets. While this limit saves us from excessive Twitter rants, it also means there's not much space. And if you'd like to share a link in one of your tweets, that means your character count is even lower.
To combat this, rather than copy and paste links directly into your tweet, paste links into a link shortener first. Link shorteners do exactly as they say, they take long links and shorten them. The links will still take you to the same place, they'll just be reworked into a compact form.
Here's an example:
Full URL: http://www.komando.com/tips/337309/top-5-money-tips-of-2015
To create this link, I used a free link-shortening site called Bitly.com. With Bitly, you simply paste your link into the shortener, and a shorter link is generated in seconds. You can also create a free account to keep track of each shortened link you create. Bitly then tracks the traffic, and you can see how many people clicked your link.
All right, now you've learned how to use Twitter like a boss – but there's still one thing left to do. When you start using Twitter, before you get caught up in the tweets and the hashtags, take a few seconds to follow me @KimKomando. TY!
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.