A Few Pointers on Twitter

For those who have just joined Twitter or have been on and still don’t know how to navigate it effectively, here are some basics to remember:

  • Tweets are what you and others post on Twitter.
  • Profile page (aka “Me”) is where you find your tweets and retweets. If you want to make a tweet sticky (keep it at the top of your tweets on your profile page), you can “pin” the tweet. This is under “more” on the individual tweet. This is not widely available on mobile. Bummer.
  • Your timeline is the tweets that scroll when you are on your Twitter home page. It’s also known as the home feed. It is populated with tweets and retweets from those you follow as well as the occasional (let’s hope it stays occasional) promoted tweet thrown in by Twitter. Conversely, people who follow you will have your tweets/retweets in their timelines.
  • Retweets are exactly what they seem — a do over of a tweet; however, you cannot retweet yourself (not easily anyway) although you can post the same tweet twice. It’s just technically not a retweet and frankly, many times it’s viewed as spam. The protocol is to retweet others. There are a few ways to retweet, but generally, if you use the Twitter retweet function, the person you retweeted will be notified. If you cut and paste a tweet or manually quote or alter a tweet, that’s not necessarily true. It depends on how the person being retweeted is being notified, which I’m not going to cover. Suffice to say that if you use the Twitter retweet function, they will be notified. And while I’m on the retweet function, just know that it is not the same on all devices. Play around with this, so that you know how it works for you. I would go into all of this, but we would be here all day.
  • 140 characters is the limit for tweets and retweets, and yes, that includes your Twitter name. Sorry, but thems the rules babycakes. The only exception to the rule is any links in your tweet.
  • Twitter will shorten links with their url shortening service. This is done dynamically by Twitter, i.e., you don’t do it; Twitter does it as you post your tweet. You will see something that begins with t.co for your link once your tweet is posted. But before you tweet with a link, you will see all the characters displayed. This is why a good rule of thumb is to type the tweet, see how many characters it will be, and then add the link at the end.
  • Hashtags are characters preceded by a number sign. Looks like this —> #hashtag. Hashtags can be actual words, phrases or acronyms. Doesn’t matter. Sometimes they are agreed on by groups who are going to participate in an event. In the past, the FanstRAvaganza event has used #Fanstra and other hashtags so that people could easily find the content. And that is the point — to find things. Hashtags are primarily an indexing tool. There are also throwaway hashtags which are used to convey something additional and it’s often humorous.
  • Trending is when a hashtag or person or event becomes very popular on Twitter. It takes a helluva lot for something to trend, and yes, Richard Armitage has trended on Twitter.
  • Photos are generally displayed if you load them directly to Twitter. Photos in a link are not necessarily displayed. It depends on how the linked site feeds its information to other sites (and that’s as technical as I’m going to get on the subject). It also depends on agreements Twitter has or doesn’t have with other sites. For instance, hang posting a link to Facebook media and having it displayed on Twitter. Same thing for Facebook with Twitter media.They are competitors after all. Can all of this be gotten around? Oh sure it can and especially if you have enough time or money or technical skills to mess around with it. But remember this is a post about the basics on Twitter.
  • Video from YouTube and Vine will display with a link in the timeline. And I understand Vine is expanding function. Who knows they may end up like YouTube. If that happens, count on Twitter taking YouTube videos out of the timeline unless YT antes up something major. There are other ways to display video, but you have to have some bucks.
  • Protected tweets are private tweets. This means the whole world can’t see them only the people who follow that profile. This also means that protected tweets cannot be retweeted by Twitter. They can be retweeted if someone does a cut and paste, but as a courteous, it’s good to ask permission from the owner of the original tweet before doing it.
  • DMs or direct messages are private messages. There is a 160 character limit instead of 140. You can only DM someone if they follow you (different rules apply for Verified accounts, and since I suspect no one reading this has a verified account, I’m not going to cover that aspect). Sometimes a Twitter user sends auto responses to anyone who DMs them, but it’s mostly businesses or the famous who do this — the famous who follow a lot of people, like say Stephen Fry who follows about a half million people. No actually I think he follows 50,000 or so. Good chance he auto replies to DMs. And no, I’m not going to DM Richard Armitage. Unless he DMs me first. ;-) Also, links are tricky in DM. Some can be sent and some can’t. Twitter is constantly changing this and apologizing for it. Just know that it’s not reliable.
  • Lists are great. Twitter lists are one of my favorite functions, and I use them constantly. Some are public and some are private. You can add someone to a list you’ve created whether you follow them or not. However you do it, lists are good for grouping tweets so they don’t get lost in your timeline. For instance, I have a list called musicilove, so I can easily and quickly keep up with any tweeting by the performers on the list. I also have some private lists that are probably more helpful to what I do on Twitter than anything I use. No, I’m not sharing those. MUHAHAHAHAHA Interestingly, almost none of those private lists are about Richard Armitage. It’s mostly technical profiles I follow and think I would look like a doofus to do it as a fan site.
  • Twitter bots are accounts which are run by software and not people. They are mostly comprised of spammers and hackers and some legitimate businesses. Almost all the time they have a link in a tweet, and they will tweet to individuals in hopes the links will be clicked. So how do you tell what’s a bot and what’s not? Sometimes it’s hard, but most of the time it’s easy. If they have no conversation with anyone or they have followed a bazillion people and almost no one has followed them, they are usually a bot. I could go on and on with ways to tell, but those are two biggies. Perhaps some others will throw in with how they determine it.
  • Chatting on Twitter is done all the time, but I would keep it at a minimum. Your followers who are not involved in a particular chat oftentimes do not want to see them. Why? They clutter up the timeline and you run the risk of being muted (I’ll talk about this function in another post).

That’s all for now. I left out a lot because I really am trying to keep this to basic pointers, but remember all of this is subject to change at Twitter’s discretion. Just have fun but don’t go too crazy ’cause Twitter jail is real.

In the meantime, I’ll be happy to answer questions, and I’m sure there are plenty of other fans who read this blog and are also on Twitter who will do the same.

Later I’ll talk about Twitter clients which make all of this above easier to manage including scheduling tweets.

RichardArmitageUS also has some Twitter pointers here.

Don’t Freak Out, Twitter Jail is Real

Have you been prohibited for a time from posting on Twitter? With a message like this?


And it made you feel like this?


Welcome to Twitter Jail.

By the way, you can also be put in Twitter jail for following and DMs.

You need to remember Twitter does whatever it can to avoid overcapacity — basically saying, WHOA! do you want to bring out the fail whale?!


Here’s what Twitter says officially about limits on your account. The only confusion is many people put in Twitter jail have never seemed to reach those limits and didn’t even appear to come anywhere near the limits. So what gives?

Two things:

First, the limits are broken down by the hour. So if you post more than 41 tweets in an hour, you could be subject to Twitter jail. Yep, it doesn’t always happen, but it can. If it does happen, it’s usually during Twitter’s peak hours. These are between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern Time in the U.S. since most tweeting is done by U.S. users. Second, and here’s the really fun part, Twitter can, and does, temporarily reduce these limits at anytime the service is nearing capacity. In fairness to Twitter, the status blog tries to reflect when this is happening. Since the status blog is on another set of servers, you can usually access it even when you can’t access Twitter itself.

Hope this helps those who got freaked out by this but still haven’t experienced it, and especially helps those who just can’t seem to stop tweeting = having too much fun. :D