Sending Tweets: A Beginner's Guide to Using Twitter

Find out how to tweet, retweet, use a hashtag and more!

The Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile device
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Twitter has become a prevalent force in our lives. Twitter handles (those short names that begin with the "@" symbol) are displayed everywhere from television news broadcasts to articles published online. Hashtags (terms that begin with the "#" symbol) are seen everywhere, from advertising campaigns to live events. If you're unfamiliar with Twitter, these references can seem like a foreign language. If you've been curious about how it works, and are interested in jumping in yourself, take a look at our quick guide below to get started.

To begin, a little background. Twitter is a social networking platform which enables users to post and interact through short messages of 280 characters or less. You can post updates on Twitter, along with photos and videos, and you can interact with others by "favoriting" a post to indicate that you like it, "retweeting" a post so that it's broadcast to your followers or private messaging. Twitter is available for desktop computers and mobile devices.

Here's a cheat sheet to help you get started:

Sending a Tweet on Twitter

Ready to start sending tweets? After signing up for the service, you'll see a box at the top right containing a feather. Click on that and a box will appear. This is where you type your message. You also have the option here to add a photo or video, insert a funny GIF from a selection provided by Twitter, share your location, or add a poll. If you'd like to reference someone in your tweet, add their Twitter handle beginning with the "@" symbol. If you want to establish a keyword that others can use to add to the conversation, add a hashtag. If you're commenting on an award show, for instance, you can add the hashtag that they publicize for the show (usually seen at the bottom of the screen that you're watching the broadcast on - for instance, #AcademyAwards). To publish your post, click or tap the "Tweet" button on the bottom right. Just remember that your message is limited to 280 characters in total (until Twitter makes some changes that will make more characters available). The number of characters in your tweet is reflected in the bottom right side next to the "Tweet" button, so it's easy to see how many you have left to play with.

Reply to a Tweet

See a tweet you would like to reply to? Hit the arrow which is located under and to the far left of the post that you're looking at. Doing so will open a box in which you can enter your message. The handle(s) of the person (or people) that you are replying to will already be posted in the message box, ensuring that it will be directed to them when you hit the "Tweet" button. 

Delete a Tweet

Send a tweet before it was done? Visit your profile page by clicking on your photo on the left side or at the top of your Twitter feed (on mobile there is an option called "Me" at the bottom). Tap or click on the tweet that you'd like to delete, and then tap or click on the three small dots that appear to the right under the tweet. This will expand a menu of additional features. Select "Delete Tweet" and follow the prompts.

Retweet on Twitter

Read something funny or noteworthy that you’d like to retweet? Twitter makes it easy by providing an icon just for this purpose. Tap or click the icon second from the left under the tweet (the one with two arrows). A box will appear with the original post and space for you to enter an additional comment. Click on "Retweet" and the post will appear on your profile page with your comment attached to it.

Private Messaging on Twitter

Sometimes you want to have a discussion with someone privately on Twitter. This is possible, as long as you and the person that you want to message with following each other. In order to follow someone, search for them on Twitter, and when you locate the correct person, visit their profile and click "Follow." To message in private, click the "Messages" icon which appears on the top of the web version and at the bottom of the mobile app. Tap or click on the "New Message" icon at the top and you'll be presented with an option to add the contact (or contacts — you can add more than one) that you want to message. Click or tap "Next" or "Done" and you'll be presented with a box to type your message. This is the one exception to the 280-character limit rule — there is no character count for direct messages. Add a photo, video, or GIF by using the icons at the bottom. Click or tap "Send" to distribute your message. 

Happy Tweeting!

Twitter is a great resource for keeping up with friends, tracking breaking news, participating in discussions, and sharing your experiences at live events. Once you learn the basics, you'll find it easy to post and interact just like the pros. Good luck and happy Tweeting!