Twitter can be confusing, especially if you’ve never used it before. We’re here to help! No matter what level you are at with Twitter, you can use these tips and will be a Twitter expert in no time.

Level 1: What The Heck is Twitter?

Twitter is a microblogging service, which means that you can post short updates and send messages limited to 140 characters or fewer. Originally, the character limitation was implemented to make Twitter more compatible with mobile. In fact, it remains hugely successful with the mobile audience with 43% of Twitter users checking their Twitter solely on their cell phone.

Twitter Vocabulary

Twitter has a whole language to itself, but here are a few of the more common terms you’ll come across:

@Twitter Handle: Your username.

Follow: The action users take to subscribe to someone’s updates on Twitter. When you follow a user, you will see all of their updates in your home stream.

Follower: A user who follows your updates.

Tweet: Your status update or message.

Hashtag: Symbolized by # preceding the word or phrase, a hashtag is a way to categorize what a message is about or to make is easier to find by searching for a specific hashtag.

Direct Message (DM): A private message between Twitter users.

Retweet (RT): Rebroadcasting another user’s tweet to your followers.

Promoted Tweet: Twitter ad.

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Level 2: Twitter #Basics

Although quite popular, Twitter doesn’t work for every person or every business. Twitter thrives on engagement and a back-and-forth tweeting and that instantaneous response. If you don’t think you can keep up, Twitter might not be the platform for you. But if you want to connect with your audience and drive traffic, you’ll want to make sure that Twitter is part of your social media strategy.

Anatomy of a Tweet

A tweet can be up to 140 characters, but the ideal length for retweeting is 100 to 120 characters. When linking to a website or blog post, you want use a shortened URL, such as a bit.ly. Twitter does automatically shorten long URLs, but there are benefits to using a URL shortener such as enhanced tracking. If applicable, you can add a hashtag to your tweet, two to three hashtags at the most will do. When referring to another person or attributing a link, be sure to mention that person by using their Twitter handle as well.

But What Should I Tweet About?

If you’re stumped about what you should be tweeting, here are a few ideas:

Blog Posts: Twitter can be great for driving traffic to your blog. If you are writing content that is fun and relevant to your Twitter followers, you can bet that they will be eager to click on those links.

Other People’s Stuff: Find a blog post you think your audience will love? See a great tweet that someone else posted? Tweet and retweet it! It’s a great way to offer value to your audience and to connect with other Twitter users.

Reply: Not only is it important to reply to users who tweet you questions and messages, but you can find other users that have questions about a product or service through search. Just search for terms related to your business. When you find someone who needs recommendations or assistance, connect with them!

Live Tweet at Events: Events are great places to use for Twitter content. If you’re watching someone speak, you can Tweet brief snippets of their talk and snap pictures to go with it. Many events have their own hashtag which makes it easy for others to follow the conversation and to connect with other event attendees!

Photos: Although not quite as visually centric as some other social media channels, Twitter has been adding features that help to make your photos stand out. Now, when you attach a photo to a tweet, it’s automatically previewed in your other followers streams.

In the second part of this article, we’ll help you get to Twitter levels three and four by giving you tips to get other Twitter users to follow you and give you the inside scoop on some Twitter expert tactics.

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