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How does Twitter Work

Abhijit Naik
If you have preferred to stay away from Twitter presuming it is a bit too complicated, the following article will give you the details on how it works, and how you can use it to its full potential. A must-read if you intend to join the tweeting bandwagon.
Social networking and blogging have come a long way to become the most popular activities in the cyberspace.
The fact that millions of people use these websites as a platform to put forth their views and opinions speaks volumes about their popularity.
Twitter is one such platform which integrates the two activities, social networking and blogging, and helps you reach a wider audience. Twitter is not just a social networking website, nor would in fit in your typical description of a weblog.
Most of the social networking websites and blog-publishing services out there give you the option of working on a highly interactive interface and maintaining lengthy profiles which speak all about you.
Twitter allows you to 'tweet' your thoughts in not more than 280 characters (It was doubled from 140 characters to 280 characters, in November 2017) for all languages excluding Chinese, Korean, and Japanese (The character limit for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese is still 140 characters, as an average tweet in these languages barely hits the character limit).

A Beginner's Guide to Twitter

Although, Twitter is one of the simplest social networking websites, many people have a tough time understanding it. That, perhaps, has something to do with the 280 character restriction imposed on tweets. Or maybe, the people are too used to other social networking websites which are relatively more flashy, and thus seem a lot more appealing.
One has to understand that there is a lot more to Twitter beyond the characteristic simplicity of the user interface, and that has made it one of the best social networking websites in the world today - with more than 330 million monthly active users to its credit (In the fourth quarter of 2017).
Basically, Twitter is like a micro-blog which allows you post your views and opinions in form of tweets. (The 280 character messages on Twitter are known as tweets, while those who use Twitter are known as 'tweeps' or 'tweeple'.) But obviously, you need to sign up and register yourself on Twitter in order to use this service.
The registration process is very simple, and you don't even have to maintain a lengthy profile as in case of other social networking websites. Even the 'About Me' section of your Twitter account has a character limit of 160 characters, which means you can just write a line or two about yourself.

Tweeting and Retweeting

Once you are done with the simple registration process, you are ready to start tweeting, follow your friends/favorite celebrities and promote your business. Whilst typing your tweet, you need to keep the 280 character limit in your mind.
You can use Twitter vocabulary (words like FYI and ROFL) and URL shortening services to keep a check on the length of your tweets. If your tweet exceeds the stipulated 280 character limit, the excess characters in your tweet are automatically cut by the system.
While you type your tweet, the interface itself shows how many characters are left. You can also retweet the tweets you like by clicking on the RT tab below them.

Following and Inviting

You also get the option of following your friends or your favorite celebrities, and inviting other people to follow you. If you intend to follow someone, you can simply search for that person's account by his/her user name or email id.
In the search results, you will come across that person's profile with a Follow tab alongside, on which you will have to click to follow him/her. You can also sync your email accounts and your phone book memory to see which of your contacts are on Twitter, and choose to follow them.
With several fake accounts cropping up now and then, Twitter has started a new policy wherein they authenticate whether the account belongs to the said person. A symbol (showing a white tick mark on blue background) is displayed alongside the user name for all the authenticated Twitter accounts. 
As of now, this authentication policy is only restricted to Twitter accounts belonging to celebrities from various walks of life.
If the person you intend to follow has customized his privacy settings, your follow request will be sent to him for approval. If you intend to unfollow someone, you simply have to click on the Unfollow  tab alongside the person's name in the list of people you follow.
Tweeting regularly and adding a hint of humor to your tweets are some simple methods which can help you get more followers on Twitter. Similarly, tweeting on current topics using the hash tag (#topic) will also help you reach out to the people and get new followers. You can invite people to follow you by sending them invites.

Messaging on Twitter

You can message or reply to someone's tweet by using @reply. You need to take into consideration the fact that if you message someone using this feature, that person's followers will also get to see your tweet. If you are not keen on sharing your message in the public domain, you can send him/her a Direct Message (DM) which only he/she will be able to read.

How Twitter Works on Cell Phone?

As mentioned, the 280 character limit stresses on the fact that Twitter was developed with the trend of texting in mind. If you want to tweet on the move, something which most of the tweeps or tweeple tend to do today, you can resort to your cell phone for the same.
Basically, you can use Twitter apps, like Twitter for Android, Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Blackberry, to tweet while on the move. While a range of smartphones available today have inbuilt applications to facilitate social networking on the move, others provide the option of downloading these apps.
Using smartphone apps for tweeting is very easy, and therefore quite popular, but that doesn't mean you only get to tweet from your cell phone if you have a Wi-Fi or GPRS enabled handset. It is possible to update your tweets by simple text messages.
When you text your tweet, it is sent to the short message service center (SMSC) from where it is forwarded to Twitter, and eventually published. Even though Twitter doesn't charge anything for this service, you will be charged by service provider for the SMS.

Best Way to Use Twitter for Business

Over the last year or so, Twitter has moved on from being just another social networking website to become an important tool for marketing. It doesn't just help you market your products and services, but also helps you collect information and feedback from the consumers.
While companies resort to tweets for advertising their newly launched products, consumers can give their feedback for the same in form of replies. Starting from 2010, the companies can now even buy promotional tweets which appear in selective search results to market their products.
There is no dearth of people who complain about the 280 characters restriction. Ardent twitter fans though, have become masters in limiting their thoughts to these 280 characters - after all putting your thoughts in concise manner is what tweeting is all about.