Tweets, retweets, followers and hashmarks—Twitter is all the rage these days. Technology expert Alexandra Samuel wants to help you get started and create the Twitter account that's right for you.
Twitter is a social network that lets you post short messages to share with just your friends or the world. A Twitter message—a "tweet"—is the equivalent of a Facebook status update. But you only have 140 characters to get your point across!
Even if you hate the idea of sharing your own ideas or news online, you can still enjoy Twitter as a voyeur. Lots of people check Twitter every day without posting a single update themselves. So, let's get started!
Sign Up for an Account
My advice would be to choose the shortest username you can: Most people like to use a version of their real name. For example, my Twitter handle is "awsamuel."
Find and Follow Twitter Users
An easy way to get started is to click Find People and then use the Find Friends option to scan for anyone in your Gmail, AOL or Yahoo address book who is already on Twitter. Just click Follow next to anyone who is already on Twitter, but don't click Send Request for those who aren't—you'll just end up spamming your friends. You can also find people to follow by browsing Twitter's suggestions or by following lists of Twitter users (more on that below). It's fine to follow a few celebrities, but be sure to follow at least some regular people so that you'll see how other people use Twitter.
Log in to Twitter.com to see what your friends are tweeting about anytime. Try looking at Twitter while you're watching your favorite sports event or TV show (your friends might be watching too), if you've just heard about a breaking news story (people will be sharing their reactions) or just want to find something interesting to look at (people tend to share lots of links to interesting websites, videos and news stories).
Is it time to start tweeting?