Update: Twitter timeline changes?

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Twitter has confirmed that it is experimenting with mixing up the home timeline. In other words, instead of showing tweets in reverse chronological order, the algorithm is pushing selected tweets to the top of the Twitter timeline, presumably because they have higher levels of engagement or other positive qualities. Facebook has a similar process in place, which highlights popular photos, posts, and links in the News Feed.

Home timelineThis should not come as a surprise. Using the classic “reverse chron” setup, people checking their timelines at certain times during the day are guaranteed to see whatever ordinary tweets happen to be broadcast by followers. If you check it late at night, it’s basically crickets. Highlighting popular tweets make sense, and certainly helps keep users who otherwise might say “what’s the point?”

What I fear, however, is that more ads will be crammed into the Twitter timeline, or people who don’t get a chance to tweet that often will be shoved to the bottom of the timeline when they do.

Note that this is only an experiment. It may not be released to the entire Twitter universe, or it may be changed in some way.

How to install the Twitter app on an Android phone

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The following article about Twitter on Android phones was excerpted from Twitter In 30 Minutes, by author Ian Lamont. Download or purchase the Twitter book here.

Registering Twitter on an Android phone or tablet is quick. You will need to download the Twitter mobile app first, though. Twitter makes apps for most mobile Android platforms, including:

  • Samsung
  • Xiaomi
  • Nexus
  • LG
  • Motorola
  • Alcatel

The Twitter app for Android devices is closely integrated with the phone’s operating system, which can make registration easier. Note that you may see some variations in the interface, depending on which flavor of Android you use.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Open Google Play on your Android device (phone, tablet, etc.) and search for Twitter.
  2. Tap the Install button.
  3. Google Play will show you which features the Twitter app will be able to access. You must approve this to continue the installation process.
  4. Open the app.

You will see something like this:

Install Twitter on Android phone

For this device, Twitter used the email address associated with the Google Play account (and the phone) to start the registration process. Tap Sign up a different account to register with a different email address.

The registration screen has fields for Name, Email, Username (which will determine your Twitter handle) and phone number. It’s almost identical to the iOS version. However, the Android interface for tweeting, adding people, and changing your profile is quite different than iOS (if you’re coming from an iPhone).

The Android Twitter app for phones and tablets will prompt new users to customize their profiles with photos and a brief bio. It’s very convenient, as you can use selfies and other photos taken with the phone’s camera. To edit your profile, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Android app, and click the More Actions icon (three dots in the upper right corner of the screen).
  2. Tap your Twitter handle.
  3. Tap the Edit profile button.

This article was excerpted from Twitter In 30 Minutes, by author Ian Lamont. Download or purchase the book here.

How to change Twitter settings on the Web or an iPhone

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Once upon a time, Twitter settings were very easy to access via the Twitter toolbar on Twitter.com or via the mobile app. Now they are buried. This short post and video will show you how to access Twitter settings on the Web and an iPhone, and will also show you some of the options that are available via Twitter settings.

Note that the Web-based settings panel for Twitter is far more complete than what’s available via the mobile app. On the other hand, there are settings on the mobile app that just pertain to the mobile device you are using.

Here’s the short video which explains where to access Twitter settings:

How to turn off Twitter notifications on the Web, email, and mobile

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I am revisiting this issue because I hear a lot of frustration from people who are wondering why their email inboxes and mobile phone screens are filling up with notifications from Twitter. Some of Twitter notifications are useful — direct messages, or when your content has been retweeted — but some are useless. Others are useful or interesting, but can be overwhelming because there are so many of them.

The video below shows how to turn off Web and email notifications using the Twitter.com settings area. I also explore the Twitter notifications settings on the Twitter mobile app for iOS/iPhone, which is similar to the iPad interface. There are some similarities with the Android Twitter app, too.

My general advice for mobile users is to A) check the phone’s general settings > Notifications to turn on/off the types of notifications associated with the Twitter app (for instance, in iOS, banner or lock screen notifications) and B) in the Twitter app itself, look for the gear icon to get into the app settings.

One other note about Twitter email notifications: These generally show up in multiple places — your email inbox on your desktop, and on your mobile phone. Be sure to tackle them when you adjust the individual notifications on Twitter.com.

Without further ado, here’s the video that explains it all. When you are finished, please consider sharing it or liking it:

How to find people on Twitter

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A challenge faced by many new Twitter users is how to find people on Twitter. As I mentioned in my book, Twitter In 30 Minutes, while it’s possible to find people you know by syncing an address book to Twitter (and indeed, Twitter encourages users to do so) there are significant drawbacks, including the fact that you’re giving important personal information to a for-profit corporation. And even if you do upload your address book, people who are not on it may be hard to find on Twitter. And what about people you don’t know?

The video below explains how to locate specific personal, business, and speciality accounts on Twitter. It’s not foolproof, but it can help you use Twitter search more effectively, particularly when it comes to people with common names. I also use an example of a specialty account — Grumpy Cat’s twitter feed — which has many imitators. How do you determine which account is the real Grumpy Cat?

No one reads my tweets. Why?

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I received a question last week from a reader of Twitter In 30 Minutes. The reader was puzzled why no one was reading his tweets, or responding:

“No one reads my tweets. I send tweets to Fox News and other places and have never had anyone read or respond to my tweets or follow me. Any suggestions?”

From his email, it was apparent that there were actually several problems:

  1. No one is following him on Twitter
  2. No one is reading his tweets
  3. When he @mentions another account, no one responds

It is very frustrating when you start a Twitter account and begin tweeting, but don’t have interactions — not even other people following your account!

Fortunately, this reader had a partial fix to the “no one is following me” problem. I took a quick look at his profile, and determined that his account was protected. This means the only people who could read his tweets are those who he had approved. I emailed back and explained why that was causing an issue, and recommended that he remove the protection:

“People you don’t know are less likely to follow protected accounts (mainly because they can’t see what you are tweeting about!) so my first recommendation is to open your account so anyone can follow you and see what you are tweeting about. You can do this by clicking on the gear icon on Twitter.com and then selecting “Security and Privacy” and then uncheck the box that says ‘Protect my tweets’”

You can see the “Protect my tweets” box in the screenshot below:

No one is reading my tweets!

I also suggested that he start following more people and responding to them from time to time. In Chapter 3 of Twitter In 30 Minutes, I actually recommend several tactics for following interesting accounts and friends.

In addition, there was his specific question around @FoxNews (4+ million followers), which also applies to other popular accounts, from Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk, 14+ million followers) to @Oprah (25 million followers and climbing!):

“Once you have started following accounts and responding to them, don’t be surprised if some people respond to you while others don’t. This is particularly true of famous people or accounts with millions of followers, like Fox News — it would take too much time for them to respond to everyone who mentions them in a Tweet, so they almost never respond to anyone.”

Lastly, I let the reader know that I would follow him — you can, too, by clicking on @ilamont and pressing the follow button.

How to add a Twitter header photo

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In 2014, Twitter changed its user interface, and added a few new visual elements, including a header photo. This post will explain how to add a header photo, using examples and a video.

The header photo is different from the small profile photo, which is usually a headshot or icon. When you are looking at the profile of a Twitter account, the header photo appears as a banner situated behind your profile photo. Here’s an example:
How to add a Twitter header photo
The header image is the picture of the Boston skyline. Before 2014, Twitter did not use header photos, so if you have an older account you may need to add one. If you have a new account, you will be asked to add one as well. Here’s a video that explains how to do it:

Note that you only should use photos that you own or have purchased the license for.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to customize your Twitter profile, I have several sections that explain how to do it in Twitter In 30 Minutes. Download or purchase your copy today in ebook or paperback formats.

How to disable Twitter SMS notifications

By Blog, Video

If you’ve set up your Twitter account to send you Twitter SMS notifications, you may wonder how you can stop the flow of notifications … or only get the Twitter texts that matter to you.

In this 3 minute video, you’ll learn how to dig into the Twitter settings to adjust Twitter’s mobile notifications. It’s relatively easy to set up Twitter so you just receive important notifications — for instance, when you’ve been mentioned on Twitter by people you know, or when you’ve been retweeted. You can disable other notifications, or disable all of the SMS messages you receive via Twitter.

Another useful feature is to disable Twitter texts during certain times of the day. Obviously, shutting off the notifications when you are sleeping makes sense. Other people may want to control the flow of notifications during working hours, or set up a schedule that conserves your phone’s battery.

The video can be watched below. Also, I’ve prepared a separate how-to guide and video that shows how to disable Twitter email notifications.

How to stop Twitter email notifications

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Email notifications from Twitter can be overwhelming. At first it feels good to know that people find you interesting enough to follow or retweet, but after a while the notifications become irritating. Here’s how to stop Twitter email notifications, or simply reduce the number you receive:

  1. Go to Twitter.com
  2. Log onto your account
  3. Click the settings icon in the upper right corner, and select “Settings”
  4. Click on “Email Notifications”
  5. Uncheck those types of notifications that you no longer want to receive.

For instance, if you are tired of being notified every time someone retweets a tweet you were mentioned in, you would uncheck “Tweets I’m mentioned in are retweeted”:

How to stop Twitter email notifications

I’ve also embedded a video below which shows how to disable Twitter email notifications:

To learn more about how to manage your Twitter experience, check out Twitter In 30 Minutes, available in paperback, PDF, and ebook editions for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Android tablets.



What should I tweet?

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What should I tweet? One way of answering this question is to look at what kinds of things other people tweet about in their 140-character messages. And that really depends on who they follow. In Chapter 1 of my Twitter guide, I showed some individual examples of tweets by a famous person (@Oprah), a small business (@Momogoose) and several ordinary users. But if you follow hundreds of people, chances are you will see some patterns emerge, based on their interests.

For instance, if I were to use a phrase to describe the tweets from the 400-odd people I follow (a mix of journalists, tech/Web people, people from the Boston area and random friends), it would be “observations and questions about life and careers, with some overlap, especially when major events take place.”
Here’s another way to break it down:

Observations and questions: People have interests, activities, and professional backgrounds, which will be reflected in their tweets. Someone has just finished a book, cooked a meal, taken a jog or commented on the weather. Occasionally, people will ask questions.

Overlap: At any given time, a few accounts out of the 400 appear to be watching the same TV show or sporting event. On Friday night, some of the younger people will tweet from a club or bar. Because I follow so many technology people, I see a lot of references to companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

Major events: When there’s a major event, such as a natural disaster, political scandal or a major gadget release, there is a surge of topical tweets as the people I follow react to or “retweet” the news (more about retweeting later in this chapter). For instance, the night Steve Jobs died, about half of the people I followed had something to say about it. National elections also bring out a lot of Twitter commentary.

But here’s the thing: What I see is not representative of what other people see. A fashionista in Manhattan will have a far different experience with Twitter, based on her interests and the people she follows. She will see more tweets and photos involving clothing, shoes, accessories, and sales, as well as more information specific to New York City.

The football fan in Florida is more likely to follow other football fans, and their tweets are more likely to include football references. A programmer who lives in Paris is more likely to see tweets about programming and his or her neighborhood in the 19th arrondissement. What about a housewife in Hollywood? Or a scientist in Singapore? They will follow different types of people, and will see and send different types of tweets.

Of course, you can follow the cue of the people you follow and start tweeting about similar things. But it’s also possible to develop your own voice.

To learn more about how to develop your Twitter presence, check out Twitter In 30 Minutes, available in paperback, or as an ebook that can be read on a Kindle, iPad, or as a PDF.