5 Easy steps to join the world of Twitter (Part 2)

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Deputy editor, Sandi Keane, concludes her exhortations to join her as a Twitter "tragic" with 5 easy steps to get you started.  


(In Part 1 yesterday, you learned why you, too, should consider joining the Twittersphere — if for no other reason than to irritate the hell out of Tony Abbott with your “electronic graffiti”!)

Think of Twitter as microblogging. That makes it amazingly simple to set up and be Tweeting within minutes. But if you really want to engage on topics that interest you, keep track of who said what, where and when, file them in orderly columns for instant reference, be notified of responses when you’re working on another program, then you need a tool like TweetDeck or Hootsuite.

Sounds good? Then here are the five easy steps:

1.         Getting started

2.         Shortening URLs

3.         Twitter acronyms and slang

4.         TweetDeck or HootSuite

5.         Helpful tips for Tweeters

1.   Getting started

Go to Enter your full name, email address and a password. Click ‘Sign up for Twitter’.

On the next page, select a username. This is your Twitter handle so be inventive (like @Boefblogginon, @GhostofPJK, @TheMurdochTimes or @GeorgeBludger) but remember you can only have 15 characters. When you post a Tweet, viewers will see your name (we’ll come back to that) and your @(Twitter handle).

Click ‘Create my account’. You’ll get a confirmation email from Twitter asking you to click the link in said email to confirm your email address and account. By the way, you can have as many accounts with as many names as you want provided you have separate email accounts. Twitter will help you get started at this point, explaining what a Tweet is, etc.

Go to your account. Click ‘Settings’. Under Profile, you might want to consider changing your Name, which can be 20 characters long. Again, be inventive! Who could resist following Coalition Tea Lady (Twitter name @ItsBouquet)?

When the Prime Minister announced the reintroduction of Knights and Dames, most of us did an “honours selfie”, recasting ourselves as Lady, Lord or Dame this or that. So here's your chance to indulge your "inner child" (and annoy your kids...).

Don’t forget to post a photo, which can be one of you, your dog, a cartoon, or anything that takes your fancy. Like many Tweeps, I generally don’t follow anyone without some kind of photo.

Here's IA's mate @GeorgeBludger's irresistible photo:

Schadenfreude George @georgebludger

Then, a brief bio about yourself. Journalists or people tweeting for their organisation tend to stick to their professional profile but the more interesting a profile is, the more likely it will attract fellow-travellers. Here’s an example of one I identified with personally and simply had to follow:

‘Grumpy old man scared of what we are leaving our children. Words often fail me but when they don’t I use Twitter’

2.   Shortening URLs

A URL shortener is essential to keep your Tweets to 140 characters. If you intend to use TweetDeck, it has its own URL shortener (or use another one, as I do). Google “URL shorteners” and you’ll be spoilt for choice. I use Google’s. Here’s an example of the difference it makes in characters:


shortens to

It sits up on your tool bar ready to use whenever you want. The Google version has a green button which is easy to find.

Simply click onto "Copy" and you're away!

3.   Twitter acronyms and slang

Fortunately, “insider” terms are minimal. But keeping Tweets to 140 characters is an art form. So crafting tasty, bite-sized morsels is the answer. Us Over 60s have an advantage here having learned to précis in primary school! You’ll find popular shorthand like “RWNJs” (right-wing nut jobs) comes in handy.

Here are some ideas from Wiktionary Internet Slang and a list from Social Media Today:

B4- Before 

b/c, bc- Because

BTW - By The Way

DM- Direct message, a private message or “direct message” to a person you follow.

EM or EML- Email

FB- Facebook

FF- Follow Friday(#followfriday) A Twitter “endorsement” (check it out)

F2F (and while we’re at it, B2BB2C): face to face, business to business, business to client (business to community)

FYI- For Your Information

Gr8- Great 

GTG, G2G- Got To Go

HT -  Hat Tip, or "Heard Through" instead of a classic "RT"

HTH - Here to Help or "Happy" To Help

IC - I See

IDC- I don't care

IDK- I don’t know

IM- Instant Message

JK or J/K- Just Kidding (or for UK people, Joking)

L8- Late

LMAO- Laughing My A** Off

LMK- Let Me Know

LOL- Laughing Out Loud-- not “lots of love” like my mother thinks it is.

MT - Modified Tweet

OH- Overheard

OMG- Oh My God

ORLY- Oh Really?!!

ROFL- Rolling On The Floor Laughing

RWNJs Right Wing Nut Jobs

RT- ReTweet

SMH- Shaking My Head

Thx or Tx- Thanks

TMI- Too Much Information

TTYS- Talk To You Soon

TY- Thank You

4. Your dashboard — TweetDeck or Hootsuite

My only experience to date has been with TweetDeck. HootSuite has the look and feel of TweetDeck but doesn’t require any downloads. My advice is to compare them both.

The advantage of both is to organize and track what’s happing on Twitter.

Let’s get started on TweetDeck:

Click onto the Plus + sign in the left-hand menu to set up your columns, starting with your favourite journos, commentators, news sites, etc. I have a separate “User” and “@Mentions” for my favourite Twitter accounts.

The number of columns can be reduced by just clicking on “Search” then typing in the Twitter name, eg “@denniallen” (former Labor MP Denise Allen and an IA contributor). This feed will give you all Tweets mentioning this Twitter handle including those posted by @denniallen.

Next step, start making columns for your favourite hashtags like #abbottmovies (and have a go at adding your own Abbott-ized version of popular Hollywood movies). Here are some examples:


Or for more fun, #Imstickingwithtony which was trending at No. 1 two weeks ago in response to Tony Abbott’s call on his fellow Liberal MPs to “stick with him”. Dave Donovan has had a ball with this! Twitter is definitely THERAPY for Dave! Check him out here!

Here's what your TweetDeck will start looking like:

Two examples taken from my TweetDeck 

Voilà! Now that you have your columns set up, you can have a conversation you can follow in real time, interact with other Tweeps or simply see how the story unfolds.

5.   Helpful tips for Tweeters

What’s trending?

If you want to check what’s trending on Twitter, the easiest (and cheapest) is to go to Trends Australia @TrendsAustralia, Trendsmap Plus @TrendmapPlus or direct to


What to Tweet?

Finding interesting articles to Tweet is a doddle since all online media have a Tweet button at the beginning or end of each article. But remember that your Tweet will be more interesting if you come up with your own comment and use the URL shortener.

At IA, we’ve gone one further — you can also Tweet out interesting comments from our comments thread. This automatically links back to the article in question and is a good way to stimulate interest in the topic. I usually post a response to the comment’s author to let them know how much I appreciated their thoughts and that I’ve shared them on Twitter.

Dave and I also embed the most interesting Tweets in IA’s articles. So, apart from adding examples of responses to the topic from the Twittersphere, you can also retweet these.

What can I do with a Tweet?

Apart from retweeting (which you can edit), responding or favouriting, you’ll see three little buttons on the right hand side “…”. Click onto this and a whole new menu opens out for you. One of the options allows you to email the Tweet to those friends not on Twitter. So simple and so inclusive.

Here's what the menu looks like when you click on to the three dots "...". Simply click onto "email this Tweet".

How do I get followers?

Once you start engaging on the Twitter thread, you’ll find like-minded people to follow who, in turn, will generally follow you back. I get three different media monitoring services on the environment every morning. These articles come from all over the world from a variety of major mastheads and scientific journals. I pick the best of the stories and Tweet the links out.

Most of my followers are people who care about the planet and their grandchildren’s future. There’s always some heartening stuff to Tweet out on the environment as well — like the latest news in battery storage for solar users.

Author's note

I hope this post has been useful and, if you decide to join us on Twitter, you get as much fun and enjoyment out of it as I do. You'll have to excuse me now. G2G! Dave is off to the cricket for the weekend. So, I'm in the editor's chair as I write and an up-coming article by IA's new contributor, John Maycock, (on whether Scott Morrison is the warm, cuddly being he now portends to be) is waiting to be Tweeted out! TTYS!

Some regular Tweeters in the IA family:

Dave Donovan (@davrosz),

Sandi Keane (@jarrapin)

Lyn Bender (@lynestel) – warning Lyn is even more “tragic” than I am. She even Tweets in the bath!

Peter Wicks (@wixxy)

John Graham (@johngrahamart)

Schadenfreude George (@GeorgeBludger)

Geezlouise (@Turlow1)


Sandi has been tweeting since January 2011. She was a guest tweeter for two years for the Melbourne Writers Festival and also ABC’s Lateline. She guarantees to follow you back (as does Dave Donovan).

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