Twitter For Beginners: The Basics (Part 2)

What are you doing?

Use Twitter to answer the question: What are you doing?

In the last post, I gave you a brief overview of Twitter, the kinds of messages people tweet, and how to find people to follow. Now, let’s focus on you, getting your profile set up, and sending out tweets.

Twitter Profile

Your Twitter profile explains who you are to the world. Each component is optional, but they allow other users to find out and to see what you are about.

  • Your name is your real name, not your Twitter username. Use your real name if you want people to find you using the Twitter search feature.
  • Your location is your geography. Most people put a city name and a two letter state abbreviation, but there are no rules.
  • Your website lets you link to one webpage. You can link to your website, your blog, or you can develop a special Twitter landing page that tells people more about you and how you use Twitter.
  • Your bio gives you 160 characters to give people a flavor of your personality.

You created these items when you opened your Twitter account. You can edit them at any time under the Settings option.

Others view your Twitter profile when they click on your Twitter username in a tweet, or when they visit your home page (

Tweet Types

There are three types of tweets you can send out.

  • General tweets go out to all of your followers. They also appear in the Twitter public timeline.
  • @Replies go to a specific person and start with @username. They also appear to other users and appear in the Twitter public timeline.
  • Direct messages are private messages sent to only one person.


You send an @reply to a specific person, but a reply is not a private message. @Replies show up in the your timeline and the public timeline. They also show up in the timeline of every person who follows both you and the person identified in your @reply (the @username person).

Note: This is the default setting. You can also view all @replies made by the people you follow by changing your @replies setting under Notices in your settings.

Most likely, you see a tweet in your timeline and you want to reply. Move your mouse over the tweet and a back arrow appears on the right. Click this, and Twitter starts creating your @reply to that person. However, you can send an @reply to any Twitter user by typing @username at the start of a tweet.

You can view all @replies sent to you under the @Replies tab on the right of your home page.

Direct Messages

You can send a direct message to any user who follows you. You don’t use the Twitter message box on your home page to send a direct message. Instead, you send it from the Direct Messages page.

Use the drop-down list to select the person to receive your direct message, and type the message below. When you click Send, the message appears in the Direct Messages page for that Twitter user. Or, someone sends you a direct message, you can reply to a direct message with a direct message. Display your Direct Messages page, located the direct message, and click on the envelope with the left arrow. Twitter starts creating the direct message at the top of the page.

Note: The only way you know that you have a direct message is to check your Direct Message page. Keep track of the number of direct messages and you can tell when you receive a new one.

Additional Setup  Options

There are a few setup options you should complete before diving into the Twitterverse.

  • Your picture (or avatar). Only Twitter newbies use the default user picture. For the most impact, upload a recent picture that focuses on your face. Square pictures are best if you can crop the picture before you upload. Twitter accepts all pictures up to 700k and reduces large files so you don’t have to do this. You can change your picture using the Picture tab in the Settings.
  • Twitter background. Use one of Twitter’s themes or upload your own background image. Here is where you can get creative and establish your personal or company brand within Twitter. Use the Design tab in the Settings.
  • Twitter colors. Based on the background or theme you use, you may want to adjust the Twitter colors to make it easier to read.

Last word: You now have everything you need to being tweeting away. Find your friends, find interesting people to follow, and start sending tweets. It fun and addictive.

About author:

Charlene is the information strategist behind Crow Information Design.

to “Twitter For Beginners: The Basics (Part 2)”

  1. Daniel Hoang says:

    Looking forward to seeing an intermediate/advanced guide to Twitter. Check out Guy’s post as well:

    Daniel Hoang’s last blog post..Participating in Local Government Can Be Rewarding

  2. Charlene says:

    Daniel: I’ve seen Guy’s post, and as always, I love his advice. His business goals for Twitter are different from mine, so his strategies don’t always work for me. But I love to read what smart people are learning and observing in the social media sphere. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I came to you via a link on Twitter. Ironic???
    So follow me, if you’d like. Maybe we’ll become BFF.

  4. tysoncrosbie says:

    These twitter guides are great. Very well done. Easy to understand (maybe because I drank the koolaid?). I am going to share this with some friends who have never heard of twitter.

  5. janflora says:

    thanks again…i could not figure out how to @reply correctly…duh type it myself :P …and I felt bad b/c I tried to reply to someone and assumed the @ would show up… this is a new learning process!
    I may have to follow you so I can learn more :)

    janflora’s last blog post..Books just keep getting better

  6. Charlene says:

    Shirley: Please don’t take it personally if I don’t follow you back. I keep my list of people I follow very small on purpose. I explain why on my Twitter landing page at Thanks for the comment, and feel free to send me at @reply any time.

    Tyson: Thanks for the comment. You and I have been drinking the koolaid, no doubt.

    Jan: Dont’ feel bad when something with software isn’t obvious. It means that the design could be better! Twitter is a bit awkward to use, but we endure because it is so useful.

  7. [...] Twitter Beginners.” Another great resource is “Twitter for Beginners” part 1 and part 2 written by Charlene [...]

  8. andrea says:

    thanks for the twitter help.
    when i reply to someone via @ that i’m folllowing,
    can they see my reply if they arent following me?
    ie: if i write to ashton kuchter, in a reply to my following him, does he see it?

  9. Charlene says:

    Andrea: You can send an @reply to anyone on Twitter and they see it. If they don’t follow you, it only shows up under the @username in the right menu. But it is there for them.

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