Before I show you how to sign up for Twitter and start using the service, let’s take a brief tour of Twitter to better understand how people use it. We’ll start with a famous person (Oprah Winfrey), move onto a Twitter account operated by a local business, and then see how ordinary people use Twitter.
If you are sitting near a computer, or have a mobile phone, open a Web browser and type twitter.com/oprah into the address bar. This is the Web address for the Twitter account belonging to Oprah Winfrey, the talented American television host, actress, and media mogul. If you are sitting at a desktop computer, you will see something like this:
There’s a lot going on. Photos and seemingly random messages litter the page. Elsewhere there are references to Tweets, Followers, and Following, along with numbers. There are buttons and strange symbols. What’s happening here?
Think of twitter.com/oprah as Oprah’s public display case. She (and her staff) determine nearly everything seen on this page. Most of the action takes place in the center of the screen. On the left side of the page, you can see Oprah’s name and her Twitter name, or “handle”—@Oprah (pronounced “at-Oprah”).
The front page of the @Oprah Twitter account also includes photos of Oprah, which often come from her magazine. She regularly changes the profile picture, and sometimes uses funny or striking images. Once she featured a photo of herself with a giant Afro. It looked outlandish, but Oprah has a sense of humor and that’s what she wants her fans to see!
Below this are some numbers corresponding to tweets, following, and followers. Here’s what the numbers mean:
Tweets: A tweet is a message that is no more than 140 characters in length. Oprah has sent out more than 10,000 such messages. This seems like a lot. However, she has been using Twitter for years. Considering each message takes less than a minute to compose, it’s not hard to create more than one thousand tweets in a single year. Oprah’s most recent tweets are shown at the top of the page. If you keep scrolling down, Oprah’s older tweets will be revealed.
Following: This number refers to other Twitter accounts that Oprah follows. There are relatively few people on the list. If you click on the number, you will see who they are. Most are media personalities, guests who have appeared on her show, and her staff. When one of them tweets something, Oprah will see it when she visits twitter.com or opens the Twitter app on her phone.
Followers: Oprah has lots of fans. The “M” next to the number stands for “million.” In other words, upwards of 30 million accounts have chosen to “follow” Oprah on Twitter. This means the people who operate the accounts will see Oprah’s tweets when they look at Twitter, along with any other accounts they are following. Following a Twitter account is kind of like “friending” someone on Facebook, except it’s only one-way. In other words, you can follow people on Twitter, but unlike Facebook, they don’t have to follow you back. In Oprah’s case, millions of people are following her, but she doesn’t have to reciprocate.
Below this info are Oprah’s most recent tweets. What is she talking about? Let’s take a look at a sample …
To read the rest of Twitter In 30 Minutes, 3rd Edition, download the ebook or buy the paperback. @Oprah Twitter profile and tweets courtesy HARPO Productions, Inc.