Welcome to Twitter! It's about time you got here.

This primer has some tips and resources you'll need to get oriented. There are trillions of tutorials available on Twitter, many of them pretty poor. Twitter's own help pages are among the worst of them.  But there are some adequate sites and pages, ranging from this brief overview style, to the far more extensive, tutorial-about-everything style, such as Mashable's Guide To Twitter.  Even the bad ones can still give you the basics.

Note: Twitter 101 For Business is probably better than most of their materials, and worth a look, even if you're not a business.

I suggest you glance at that one, but ignore the rest (for now). Just wander around, asking questions and endearing yourself to people by being clueless and vulnerable.  Just bear these things in mind during your first week:

  • Tip 1: As in most of life, most people don't know what they're talking about. Twitter has a LOT of those people, and many of them are probably advising you right now. Just send them away. Tell them, "go, I'll learn by stumble."
  • Tip 2: If you're a celebrity, like Tiger Woods's penis, I suggest you ignore the volume of people tweeting at you for a  few weeks. Relax and spend time with a handful of friends and co-workers, and learn how to follow people and "feeds" at your leisure. It's easier than you think.  Select one or two really skilled people and listen to them. This keeps you from being overwhelmed by too many tutors.  But don't assume their habits are everyone's habits, and never assume they understand even 1% of what Twitter is about. They don't. And you won't either, for a long time—if ever. Use your desktop and a program like Tweetdeck.  Don't try to absorb all the culture and tricks on a tiny mobile interface. Spread out.
  • Tip 3: If you're a liberal minded person, politically, the Progressive community is your friend here. You'll find many of us on the #p2 tag. You can read about what the #p2 tag is here.  Whenever you see it, a progressive is tweeting out to the progressive community, or some wingnut is spamming the tag and probably calling you a socialist fag. If you're unlucky, these same conservative hatriots can often be seen using their own "#tcot" tag (and others like it).  These "#hashtag" codes are just little identifiers for what people are talking about. It's very informal and primitive, but it works. Clicking on tags will show you the "conversations" (the tweets) happening at those tags.


    Try it. Click #p2 for filthy commie libs, or #tcot for screaming Beck fans who want all liberals to be sent to Super Max concentration camps.

    If you're a conservative minded person, my only tip is this: Facebook.

  • Tip 4: Follow people you can trust to follow people worth following.  But don't stick to your bubble pals (the friend of friends who probably dragged you to Twitter). Pick people you know are interested in diverse issues and ideas. They come upon the most interesting things to know of at any given time. Beware of your own natural tendency to cluster and nest with only people you know.Twitter is about discovery of people and ideas. The best of those are often outside our comfort zones.
  • Tip 5:  Don't be a dork. Especially if you're famous. if someone passes you a tip, or a resource, or an idea, at least tweet a simple thank you.  You don't have to know everyone's name, or that their grandma's dog just died.  But try and explore the very personal exchanges and relationships you can have and enjoy here. You just don't know it yet.
  • Tip 6: Just ask your feed how to do things. Example:  "@shoq, what the hell is "new retweet;" "What's a hat tip?" "How do I start juicy rumors about @pressSec and @kimKardashian?"

That's it. You'll pick it all up from here.

Most of all. Enjoy it. Yes, it's a brave new world, but it's also an interesting and fun one.

Clients You'll Want

Client programs take social media to a new level not usually found on the web verisons of many applications  Nobody you like uses the Twitter.com website to access Twitter:

  • Tweetdeck (makes Twitter MUCH easier). . Tweetdeck is  where you want to be, to start. There are many other programs, but they all work similarly.
  • Hootsuite —  gets better all the time. Tweetdeck is still what I use, as I find it closest to the user experience that I think should be the bare minimum in today's social media ecosystem.

Resources You'll Want

Verify Your Twitter Account — Very important. Celebrities and people important to Twitter can get it done. Just ask your staff to follow instructions.  We little people have to suck it.

Basic Twitter Terms You Must Know

What is Twitter "Blocking"

How to get started with-twitter — As stated above, just one of many tutorials. One is just about as good as another at the start. Get the key ideas; learn by doing.

Twitter Help

Top 50 Twitter Acronyms, Abbreviations and Initialisms by @digiphile — A very good guide by a saavy social media thought leader.

Shoq's Tips — A number of things you won't find easily. Including tricky issues like New Retweet vs. Old Retweet, etc.

What does #FF or "#Follow Friday" mean?  — Since Friday is your first full day, you're about to find out.  It's not one of Twitter's finer traditions. Read about it here.

Twictionary.com — All the lingo in one place. Not for the squeamish.

Hashtags.org — A dictionary of tags (best picked up by just watching and asking)

Journalists on Twitter — A decent, if not exhaustive directory of people you will surely be interested in. Remember, there's far more insight and ideas than what come across in any one community.

Directory of Twitter Lists — Lists are a great way to follow the tweets of many people in various interest areas, without actually following individuals.  You just follow the list, and browse the tweets of the people in them.  

WeFollow.com —A General Twitter Directory

Tweetprogress.us — The Progressive Community on Twitter. Hardly definitive, but most of the leaders and core people are there.

About Gametags — Which are an amusing way to waste hours of time creating completely silly, often riotously funny, poignant, or humiliating tweets about breaking news, or really dumb or annoying people and events.

How To Verify A Tweet  — Useful for Journalists, or anyone trying to confirm the veracity of a Tweet on a fact or news story.

Note: This page will change often. If you are referring it to friends, please ask them to check back often. If you feel it needs new concepts or resources, please post a comment.

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