Wow, this twitter post has been kicking my butt all week. The night after I wrote the first one I was up half the night making a mental list of everything I wanted to talk about, but every time I sat down to actually write it, I ended up deleting everything.

I’ve tried taking screen shots, and wanted to do graphics with arrows and highlighting – yeah, I’m not a graphic artist and Photoshop drives me bonkers.

So … you’ll have to bear with me.

Last week I talked about the various terms within Twitter.  There are a lot of other bloggers who can do a much better job than I can – @mashable for one. Toronto cartoonist, Debbie Ridpath (aka @inkyelbows )  has some really great posts on it on her blog – look at the bar that says “backlist favorites.”

Most people start off using their Twitter webpage to read their tweets.

Okay, this is a screenshot of my page – I’m using my Mac Powerbook, so it’s got a small screen – notice how my background is too small?  On my big 23 inch desktop monitor, that’s not a problem, LOL.  (I still have to figure out how to deal with that.)  I’ll leave how to do Twitter backgrounds to someone else, but there are applications on the web that will set you up with some lovely pre-made backgrounds.  (You can use a simple one Twitter provides in the Twitter settings.)

The problem with reading Twitter on this webpage, is that it doesn’t automatically update. If you want to refresh your screen you have to manually do it, either by clicking at the top of the page or you can hit refresh.  You can reply to people’s tweets, but you can’t retweet from the web without copying and pasting the person’s tweet to the entry bar at the top of the page.  Personally I find using the webpage as my main tweet viewer to be too difficult.  There are various alternatives thankfully.

I’m only going to talk about three I rotate between (I actually have a fourth one for emergencies, that is on my iGoogle page – TwitterGadget, but I tend to use that only in emergencies as the tweet screen is too small for the number of messages I get.)

My favorite is Tweetdeck which works both on my PCs and my Macs. Tweetdeck divides your screen into three columns so you can see the posts from “All Friends”, the messages that reply specifically to you, and any Direct (Private Messages) you receive. (The screenshot below is from my 23 inch screen, my laptops don’t have the big empty space to the right, the three columns fill the entire screen.)

You’ll see at the top left that you can link Twitter to your Facebook page as well as your Myspace, which can be a HUGE time saver.  Down at the bottom right you’ll see a status message – keep an eye on that if you notice anything weird happening, that’ll tell you if Twitter’s having problems.

The big bar at the bottom is where I type in my own posts, you can choose to have it at the top or the bottom of your screen, or not show at all.  The column on the left is the posts from all the people I follow (at the moment’s it’s a humungous list of over 500 people)  The second column contains any posts in which people refer to my twitter name @LeahBraemel and the third column is for those private/direct messages (I’ve blanked them out to protect the innocent. *Big Grin*

At the bottom of each column are ways to control what appears in that column. From left to right, they’re “Show what’s popular” (never use it myself), “Filter this Column” (Use it a lot), “Mark all as seen” (Useful if you’ve set Tweetdeck up to only display unseen tweets), “Clear Seen Tweets” (pretty obvious purpose), “Clear all” (again, that’s pretty obvious) and “Move column to Right”, in case you want to shuffle the column placement around.

Sometimes there’s so much stuff that I don’t want to see, is there a way I can filter it out? Yup!  Use that second button, the Filter button.

The default filter is set for Text but you have other choices as well. If you click on that little down arrow, you get a menu offering other other choices – like name, source or time. So if you don’t want to read a specific person’s tweets, you could specify them to be filtered out (use the minus sign – instructions below). Or maybe you ONLY want to see that person’s tweets. (Use the plus sign then) I have no idea about the source one, and the time is obvious as well, though I’m not sure why you’d want to use that one. Beside the plus sign is another pull down menu, to change it to a “-” sign – which is what you use if you don’t want to follow a specific person/chat.  For instance, if there’s a specific chat going on you don’t want to follow you can filter them out by filtering it out via the hashtag they’re attaching. So if you don’t want to follow #writechat, click on the filter, choose the – sign, then type in #writechat and those messages will no longer appear in that column.

But say you’d like to follow #writechat but are just having trouble seeing them amongst all the other clutter. Easy peasy. Up at the top by the Facebook and MySpace symbols is a search button. Search for #writechat and all the tweets with that hashtag will show up in their own column, even those by people you don’t follow.

You can create columns that’ll show tweets from whomever you specify – say you want your favorite authors to be in their own column, your favorite celebrities in their own, you can do it.(See below for the user menu – you can add them into a specific group there.)

Here’s a close up of an individual tweet.  At the start @Christine_dAbo tells you that’s who I’m replying to – only people who follow my tweets will see that, Christine’s followers won’t see my reply – they’ll only get half of our conversation.  If you want it to be public, you can reply by putting her name later in the tweet. I could have reworded it as “I’ll have to considering going next year, @Christine_dAbo, when Personal Protection is in print”  That would allow everyone to read my post. Or you could simply put a “.” in front of her ID. One character or many, it would have the same result. (You used to be able to specify you wanted to follow those replies, but Twitter ticked off a lot of people but removing that ability a while back claiming it overloaded their servers.)

Not sure who someone is, or maybe you want to know more about them – you can click on their ID in the bottom line and depending on your Tweetdeck settings, you’ll get a column with their ID and bio, or you’ll be taken to their Twitter page.  Also, I have turned on the number of followers people have. yes, I have 571 followers – that goes up and down by the hour as people follow and unfollow me depending on what I’m chatting about, or how many porny ppl follow me.  I find this handy when I’m tweeting about my guest bloggers.  I especially keep an eye on the number of followers of people who retweet my posts, that way I have an idea of how many other people might be seeing my information.

So, you see a tweet and you want to know more about it, maybe you aren’t sure what I’m replying to there.  To follow the thread of the conversation, simply click on “in reply to” in the bottom line and a new column will appear to the right of the other columns with the tweet I replied to, and any others if we’d been going back and forth.  (This only works if I clicked on Christine’s tweet, if I manually typed in her ID, you’d be SOL.)

 Aha, that leads me to “How the heck do you reply to someone then?”  Hover your mouse over the person’s avatar (their picture) and you’ll see four little icons appear. Reply (the curving arrow), Retweet (the straight arrow), Direct message (the envelope), and “Other” which gives you a second menu of User and Tweet.

To reply, click on the Reply button and Tweetdeck will automatically add the person’s user id to your posting bar.  Retweeting will copy not only their ID but their entire post (along with appending RT in front of it.)

If you want to add a link to your post, Tweetdeck will automatically shorten it with their latest versions (v. 30 and above) Simply copy and paste the link into your post (don’t worry about the length), Tweetdeck will automatically shorten it for you.

The User options is helpful if you want to follow them (or unfollow them).  AND most helpful of all? If they spam you, you can block them and/or report them with one click!

(Did you notice this screen looks a little different? I took this screenshot on my Mac which has a different color scheme apparently, LOL.)

Oh, and if you make a mistake in your post – you can’t edit it once you’ve hit send, so double check. (I usually realize it AFTER I’ve hit send *rolls eyes*) However, you can delete a post you’ve made, but don’t forget that the post is still out there for people to see, it’ll only be deleted on those who haven’t yet loaded it. (Everyone’s programs load at different rates and times.)  Click on the Tweet option (it’s right beneath the user option above) and you can delete the tweet – but be quick about it. But you can only delete your own posts, not someone else’s (see how in the screen capture below, “delete” is grayed out because I’m not the owner of that post.) (Oh, and you can do this on the webpage too – click on the garbage can at the right side of the post.)

One major drawback to both Tweetdeck AND Seesmic?  You cannot adjust the size of the font. You can change font colors and background colors, but you’re stuck with that teeny tiny font. I keep bugging @Tweetdeck to change it, but so far, no go. 


Seesmic is essentially the same as Tweetdeck, though you can’t see the number of followers a person has.

Here’s Seesmic’s menus – you can see they’re a little bit different than Tweetdecks, but essentially they do the same thing. You can add a user, follow a user, unfollow a user, or block a user and report spam, you can view all your friends posts, your own or your private messages in separate columns. I haven’t found a way to filter the columns though (yet). So it really comes down to what you like.

There is one last program I use on occasion if Tweetdeck’s misbehaving (yes, it does on occasion) and that’s Twhirl which is made by the Seesmic people.  However, Twhirl has a single column set up and I have trouble following the number of posts I get at a time.

Along the bottom is a menu bar where you can flip between the general posts, your replies and your direct messages, but you can only view one column at a time.  The window is stretchable so you can make it as wide or as narrow as you want, and you can view or not view the avatars (photos) as well which some people like. (personally I rely upon those avatars see who is who)
Oh, avatars. There’s a whole ‘nother post, in fact someone did one today on icons and how people get upset if you change them because your followers will identify you by you avatar like a brand. I’ll have to see if I can find that again.

Other programs – the best way to find out what to use is to look at the bottom of people’s posts – it’ll tell you what they use. For me that’s the best recommendation you can get.

One you can use is specifically for Mozilla’s Firefox — it used to be called Twitterfox but they changed it to Echofon for some reason.

If you have a smart phone, you can view your tweets on your phone too – if you have a smart phone like an iPhone, you can even download Tweetdeck, Tweetie and a whole host of others. But even if you don’t have a smart phone, if you can send a text message, you can send a Tweet. For Canadians you send your text message to 21212. Americans and others? I cut and pasted from Twitter’s support page:

  • US: 40404
  • Canada: 21212
  • UK short code: 86444
  • New! New Zealand short code: 8987
  • Germany: +49 17 6888 50505
  • Sweden: +46 737 494222
  • All other countries: +44 762 4801423

Okay, what else have I forgotten?  I know there’s a ton of info still to be covered … so I’ll turn it over to you. Do you want any more posts like this?

Do you have any questions, things you want to know how to do or if you can do?

Twitter 101 part 2
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6 thoughts on “Twitter 101 part 2

  • October 5, 2009 at 5:42 am

    What a great public service, Leah.
    I know, you got tired of me asking questions about how to use twitter, grin. I'll be looking for more from the could-be Queen of 'how-to' blogs .

  • October 5, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Thanks, Marley. My teacher persona really comes out some days, doesn't it? I can't help myself, LOL.

  • October 5, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Hi Leah 🙂
    Thanks for taking the time to post this indepth post on Twitter how-to's.
    All the best,

  • October 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Wow, thanks a ton, Leah–I finally caved and tried Twitter just a couple days ago and am still trying to figure things out! This will help a bunch! 🙂

  • October 5, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks Leah for taking the time to explain twitter.

  • October 5, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Twitter for Dummies, by Leah Braemel…
    You're blowing your chance at royalties, Leah!! LOL
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom 🙂

Comments are closed.