15 Things to Know When Using Twitter Guide

Based on my own recent events on Twitter, I thought it best to turn that experience into a teaching moment. I am going to share this with you because this is something you ought to know. Because this is comprehensive, I've provided a Table of Contents to help you navigate.  I had to use usernames that were not in use, so apologies that they are so long, but they are unique at the time of publishing (except for @username).

If you can't go through all of this, know one thing. THINK BEFORE YOU TWEET!

I hope this helps someone and if it does let me know. You can find me on Twitter at @aimeej21 or leave a comment below.

Table of Contents

  1. Usernames
  2. What to Tweet
  4. Replies
  5. Direct Messages
  6. Timing of Responses
  7. Hashtags (#)
  8. RT v. MT
  9. Reading Tweets
  10. Mute, Unfollow, Block
  11. Subtweeting
  12. Marketing
  13. Deleting Tweets
  14. Spoilers
  15. #FF
  16. Conclusion
  17. “Don't Tweet” YouTube Video by Chescaleigh

1.  Usernames

Every Twitter account has a username. It can be practically anything. Some people use their real names and some people deliberately do not use their real names.  If you know the real name of someone on Twitter who is using a made-up Twitter name, like @QueenGamerRulesAll (user does not exist at the time of this post), then unless you are told otherwise do not refer to them by their full government name (i.e. their real name).


They are not using their name for a reason so you should respect that. Usually it is okay to call them by their first name but if you know they are sensitive to their privacy, then don't do it. Respect their privacy and just refer to them by the display name on their Twitter profile.

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2.  What to Tweet


Well, you can tweet whatever you want. It's difficult to explain because tweeting is going to differ from one user to the next.  9 times out of 10, I would say just be yourself. Engage with other Twitter users. You have 140 characters, go wild.

BUT if you're a part of that 10% that wants to use Twitter to harass people, spread hate, etc. I would say, do us all a favor and stay off the Internet. Sure, there is such a thing as freedom of speech, but we also have the freedom to block and ignore you.  Try not to be someone who only Retweets though. Share tweets of your own with the world. 🙂

Remember your Timeline is where you see your tweets and the tweets of those you follow and your Profile displays all of your tweets and retweets that you send out. Your profile is what anyone can see (unless you are a Protected acct) so think of it as a reflection of yourself.

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This is important so let me say this first.

Your life is not defined by your follower count.


YES. Your life is not and should not be defined by your follower count. You have to understand and accept this concept from the beginning because your life will be easier for it.  Followers will come and followers will go and it will be okay.

You gain followers by following others, tweeting and engaging others. You lose followers for any number of reasons. Maybe they followed too many people, maybe you tweet too much for them, or maybe they unfollowed everyone whose username began with ‘p.'  It doesn't matter.

People are allowed to follow and unfollow anyone they want for whatever reason or no reason at all. And whatever reason they have for unfollowing you, it is theirs and they do not owe you an explanation. Now I'm not saying it won't bother you, because it may, but do not take it personally. A large percentage of the time it is not personal. This is a social network not the real world. Move on.

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4.  Replies

This section probably should have been it's own post because this is where most faux pas happen.

You use ‘@username' to mention a user and/or reply back to them. It is how you engage with other Twitter users. Anyone can mention a user in their tweet, whether they are following one another or not. @replies and @mentions with your username in them will appear in your Mentions tab.

@replies are in response to a previous tweet and happen when you click the arrow button to tweet. @mentions are when you put a @username in your tweet. So all @replies are also @mentions.

Question: But what happens if a person who @mentions you does not follow you? What happens if they do follow you?
Answer @username tweets me with “Hey @aimeej21 what's happening?
Here is what will happen: where_reply_follow

Does this make sense?


If does not, email me and we'll figure it out together.

Question: How come I do not see the @reply for someone I follow in my timeline?
Answer: If you do not follow either the sender or the recipient of an @reply it will not appear in your timeline.


BUT if you follow both the sender AND the recipient, you are good to go.


Question: What if I want all of my followers to see your @reply?
There are two ways you can do that:

  1. Place a period just before the ‘@username' in your tweet. Example: “.@JaneDoe594783 I did see the new #GOTG and it was AMAZING
  2. Instead of an @reply, write a new tweet using an @mention. Example: “I did see the new #GOTG movie @JaneDoe594783 and it was AMAZING

Keep this in mind that people can still see any tweet you are mentioned in even if it is not on your profile page. All they need to do is search your username.

Also, do not @mention or @reply users who have nothing to do with the conversation you are having with other users.
Take a look at this conversation for example:

  • @me: “Hey @JohnDoe187509 @JaneDoe594783 @madeupname876 who's going to the game? Want to meet up?”
  • @madeupname876: “Only @JaneDoe594783 is going”

At this point in the conversation when I reply, it should only be to @JaneDoe594783

  • GOOD: @me: “Hey @JaneDoe594783 check your DM”
  • GOOD: @me: “@JaneDoe594783 can you meet?”

The problem with “reply all” is that folks who are mistakenly or wrongly included in a conversation thread often get stuck in it. And depending on the conversation, some users can mistakenly be lumped in with a negative crowd. Until someone edits their reply, the cycle will continue. I've seen it happen. So please edit your replies. The most frequent time you will see the abuse of reply all is during #FF.

Here's a Twitter article for more on replies and mentions.

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5.  Direct Messages

You can only send a direct message (DM) to users who follow you. It does not matter if you follow them.
Example: Jane follows John but John does not follow Jane. Then the following happens:

  • John DMs Jane letting her know the time everyone is meeting for the study group. Jane goes to reply back to John in the DM window and the message is unable to send. Jane's only Twitter option is to tweet John and use an @mention for him to see it.

The other thing to know is that you cannot send a link in a DM. If you want to send a link, you will need to break the url up like this: h ttp://testing.com or checkthisout (dot) com. Hopefully that will change soon.

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6.  Timing of Responses


Still waiting to hear back from that user you @mentioned in your tweet 5 minutes ago? If @username does not reply back to you immediately, this may be for any number of reasons.

  • They do not want/plan to respond back to you.
  • They have too many tweets to go through in their mentions and missed it.
  • They have not seen it yet because they are doing other things….probably in the real world.
  • Any combination of the above.
  • Some other reason.

A little patience and understanding can go a long way. But let’s just say someone never responds back to you. It's normal and happens all the time. This does not give you the go ahead to attack/harass them for their lack of a response. Take a step back, relax and move on.

If you can’t be civil, get off the Internet.

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7.  Hashtags (#)

They let you add keywords or topics to a tweet. People have become creative in their use of hashtags and have at times made it a part of the tweet itself.
Example: “#DiscoverHaven season 4 is on Netflix August 12.”
Where #DiscoverHaven is the official tag for the Syfy show, Haven (returning Fall 2014).

When you check to see what is trending on Twitter, you will normally see hashtags. One thing you don't want to do when using hashtags is to overdo it with the hashtags. It's a Twitter no-no. Any more than two or three hashtags could be considered spam. No one wants (internet) spam.

Another great resource on hashtags from Mashable and How-To-Use-Hashtags.

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8.  RT v. MT

RT or retweet is when the tweet of another Twitter user is tweeted exactly as it was tweeted initially. An MT is a modified tweet, where the user retweeting the tweet has manually modified the tweet, usually by shortening it so that it can fit the 140-character limit.

Be mindful when using MT. Some users do not appreciate their tweets being modified beyond punctuation. Do not change the essence of the tweet and understand that if some users use of certain words and phrases (like profanity) in their tweet, they want you to keep it in if retweeted.  It is their way of expressing their tweet and by changing it AND keeping their @username, you are changing their tweet.


Basically RT and MT wisely. 🙂

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9.  Reading Tweets

Just like text messages and emails, not everything will come across the right away in a tweet. If someone tweets “You're an idiot @JaneDoe594783.Some will read that exactly how it reads (negatively), when you intended for it to be harmless and affectionately, some will get what you meant to tweet, and the rest will be confused.


Misinterpreted tweets happen all the time. Do not get caught up in the drama it brings. Ask for clarification before starting trouble where there is none.

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10.  Mute, Unfollow, and Block


Tired of seeing tweets from @username? You have three options:

  • Mute @username – @username's posts will not appear on your timeline. They will still appear in your Mentions tab and DMs (if you follow them).
  • Unfollow @username – @username's will no longer appear in your timeline. They will still appear in your Mentions tab.
  • Block @username – @username will not appear in your Timeline, your Mentions Tab

Here are some support articles on Muting, Unfollowing, and Blocking from Twitter.

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11.  Subtweeting

Subtweeting is when you tweet about a user with some variation of their username without the ‘@' symbol so that the user will not see the tweet in their Mentions tab. Unless the user follows you, they will not see it in their Timeline either.


  • @me:  “@madeupname876 I hope you didn't invite JohnDoe187509. He gets on my last nerve.”
  • @JaneDoe594783: “Did you see what JD tweeted? He is so narrow minded. Doesn't he know Bobby and Steve are meant to be together?”

Subtweeting is not typically used in a positive way. Users subtweet to essentially talk behind someone's back. It is not that the subject of the subtweet cannot see the subtweet; they just have to do more work (i.e. search for it or go to the user's profile) to see it.

There may be situations where it's necessary or appropriate, but in general, I am not a fan.

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12.  Marketing

If you are using Twitter to get the word out on your latest product or service, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Do not tweet the same message to different folks over and over and, over,…, and over again. It's annoying. None of your followers want their Timeline flooded with the same message.
  • Do not randomly tweet your product or service to people. Don't force things on users.

Here is more information on the official Twitter Rules. Familiarize yourself with the section on spam so you don't get reported for spamming.

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13.  Deleting Tweets

Sometimes you need to delete a tweet. Your thumb slipped and hit the send button before you were ready. Or you have a typo in your tweet. Totally understandable situations.  Just go to the tweet, hover and click delete. Poof. Tweet gone.

The thing to keep in mind when tweeting is that sometimes even when you delete a tweet, they can live on.

Tweets live on when:

  • You have @replied a user and they receive notifications.
  • Someone has taken a screenshot of your tweet before you hit the delete button
  • Your tweet still lives on in Twitter servers around the world.

Many folks have been doomed by tweets they thought they deleted because others see it and react.



@JaneDoe594783 goes on a Twitter rant against @JohnDoe187509, verbally attacking him only to repent a little while later.  Apologetic for her actions, @JaneDoe594783 deletes her tweets during that time. Now when you look at @JaneDoe594783's timeline, you would never know she had gone on this rant, and if you look at @JohnDoe187509's timeline, it is full of replies to @JaneDoe594783 defending himself against nothing, because you will only see his side of the twitter rant converation. It's almost like he is talking to himself.  This is your first clue that tweets have been deleted.

BUT, @madeupname876 follows @JohnDoe187509 and saw the twitter conversation before it was deleted and took a screencap of it. Thus, forever documenting the kind of person @JaneDoe594783 was in that moment. @madeupname876 is just one Twitter user who caught that moment; there could be others who captured the rant themselves. Twitter followers can be fierce and loyal.

If you want a real-life example of someone who has experience this just look at former SiriusXM DJ Anthony Cumia.

Moral of the story is think before you tweet.  The delete a tweet option was not intended for users to take advantage of by attacking others on social media and then deleting the evidence. If you cannot stand by what you tweet, then maybe you shouldn't tweet it. I feel strongly about this because there is too much negativity already, without someone starting fights on Twitter.

More information on deleting tweets from Twitter.

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14.  Spoilers

Bottom line: Stay off social media if you want to remain spoiler-free during and ~24 hours after an episode airs on tv for the first time. People will spoil it for you without a second thought and usually unintentionally. It is not really their fault, because live-tweeting is the new thing to do.  This especially means that west coast fans should stay away from Twitter (and Facebook and Tumblr) during the east coast airing of television. You do not want to have this reaction.


It would be nice though if folks would tag their spoilers outside of that obvious window. If you are going to talk about a spoiler on Twitter that has not aired, just add #spoiler somewhere in your tweet. It's a kindness to your followers.

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15.  #FF

#FF stands for Follow Friday. It is the day informally recognized by all Twitter users as when you can share your @username follower recommendations for others to follow.


Example: @me:  “#FF @EmilyRoseLA @TheLucasBryant @EricBalfour @EdgeRatedR because they make @HavenHerald worth watching #DiscoverHaven #Haven5”

If you participate in #FF, here is some food for thought when you tweet:

  • Include a reason why we should follow these users.
  • You do not have to reply all when you're included in an #FF to say thanks.
  • If you send out more than 3 #FF tweets in one day, where each tweet has like 5+ users, I have to question your recommendations and whether you really mean them or not.
  • You do not have to include someone in your #FF, just because they included you.

I know that last bullet seems harsh, but the truth is that not everyone participates in #FF. It goes against the idea of Follow Friday to simply reciprocate a #FF.  Remember, it is not personal.

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AND that's it.

Remember, Twitter is a social media network on the Internet. That means it provides a public record of everything that people tweet. People will be able to see what you tweet for years to come. So have fun with it, interact with people, make the experience your own, but at the same time….



🙂 Hope this helped.
-Aimee J.

Some other great resources for more Twitter knowledge:

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One last thing, you have to watch this parody video that Chescaleigh did to the No Doubt's “Don't Speak.” It is everything.

You Ought To Know:  Always Think Before You Tweet

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