The Picture Friendly Guide on How to Use Twitter

Peter Guirguis Twitter 23 Comments

Twitter is not an easy social network to understand, especially when you’re just starting out. The problem is that there are many things that you can do on Twitter and it causes a lot of people to feel overwhelmed at first.

Also, many people don’t really understand what Twitter is all about and how it’s meant to be used.

I still get people who ask me, “What’s the point of Twitter? Why would I want to use it when I’m already on Facebook?”

I always tell them, “Ahhh, you have no idea what you’re missing.  Twitter is AMAZING!!!”

Twitter is my favorite social network by far.

Whether you’re just starting out with Twitter, have a question, or think you may be missing something, this blog post will help you get a firm foundation on how Twitter works.

When you’re done, you’ll probably want to check out this blog post on how to avoid making these 17 mistakes on Twitter.

What is a tweet?

You can think of a tweet just like a status update on Facebook.  A tweet is an update that you share with the people that are following you (your friends) and it can contain, links, pictures, or videos.

The only difference from Facebook is that tweets are limited to 140 characters and they can be seen by all those that are following you or by those who visit your Twitter profile.

Some people have criticized Twitter for limiting status updates to just 140 characters.  But for those who use Twitter regularly, they often cite this as being one of their favorite features.

Twitter conversation

Twitter is all about making connections and you can join anyone’s public conversation

Tweets are short and to the point.  They force people to be creative with their tweets and to think first about what they want to share.

But if you REALLY need more than 140 characters and don’t want to send out multiple tweets, you can always use a free service like TwitLonger.

Ultimately, you can think of Twitter as one gigantic universe with millions of people having both public and private conversations.

tweets from petenaotg

Tweets are like posting on Facebook only you’re limited to 140 characters


What does it mean when I follow or unfollow someone?

When you follow someone on Twitter, it enables you to be able to see that person’s Tweets in your timeline (explained in next section).  The other person will not be able to see your Tweets unless they follow you too or unless they visit your Twitter profile.

Follow Rigo Campos on Twitter

Clicking the follow button enables you to see that person’s tweets in your timeline


After you follow someone, Twitter will make a recommendation like the one below:


Twitter will recommend other people to follow after you’ve clicked the follow button

What is my timeline?

Your timeline is a list of all the tweets that are tweeted by the people that you are following. They’re organized in chronological order with the most recent tweet first.

For example, if you were following me on Twitter you’d be able to see my Tweets in your timeline, and if I was following you, I’d be able to also see your tweets.

example of your timeline on Twitter

You can view your timeline at any time by clicking on the Home button


Direct messages and how they work

Not all tweets are public and can be seen by everyone.  Some tweets are private.

When two people are following each other, they can send each other direct messages which are private and can’t be seen by others.

For example, let’s say I wanted to ask you for prayer on something that’s private and I didn’t want to let everyone know the content of that tweet.  I can just direct message you and everything will be between just you and me.

The only rule is that both of us have to be following each other so that we can direct message each other.

This helps to reduce spam.  Direct messages are also limited to 140 characters.

send a direct message on Twitter

You can send someone a direct message by clicking the button next to the follow button

Mentions and how they work

Mentions are public tweets that include the names of 1 or more Twitter profiles.

example of mentions in a TweetIn this example, the words underlined in red refer to acutal people on Twitter.

They refer to my friends, Rigo Campos, Kurt Bennett, and Greg Holt.

The reason that you’d want to use a mention instead of a direct message is if you want for all of your followers to see the tweet and you don’t mind if they join the conversation.

Mentions are like tagging someone in a post on Facebook.

Ways to interact with a tweet:  Re-tweet, Reply, Favorite

As you are viewing other people’s tweets, there are a few different ways that you can interact with them.

interact with tweet

You can re-tweet, reply, or favorite another person’s tweet


Re-tweet – This is taking someone else’s tweet that you like and sharing it with your followers.  That person’s tweet will show up in your timeline for all of your followers to see like you see in the screenshot below.

You followers will also be able to see the tweet that you just re-tweeted in their timeline.

retweet on Twitter


Reply: If you reply to a tweet, Twitter will create a new tweet for you to fill out and will add the Twitter profile of the author of the tweet.  This then becomes a mention.

favorites on TwitterFavorite:  You can click on Favorite to add the tweet to your list of favorite tweets.

You can view your favorite list by first clicking on the Me link in the top navigation and then clicking on Favorites.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a way of organizing all the tweets on Twitter by using a keyword.  It starts with the hash symbol # and is followed by one of more words without any spaces.

Here is an example:

I hope that many people will find this guide to using Twitter to be #friendly   

The hashtag used in this tweet is #friendly.

If someone were to do a search on Twitter for the hashtag #friendly, they would see a list of all the tweets that have the hashtag #friendly in them and they’d be organized in chronological order.

There are thousands of hastags that are being used everyday.  Some of the most popular ones among the Christian community are ones like #TeamJesus, #missions, and #YouthMinistry.

Check out a more comprehensive list here.

What are trends?

What's trending on Twitter

You can view other trends by location by clicking the Change link

Trends are Twitter’s way of showing what’s popular on Twitter.

It’s a list of hashtags and keywords of what a lot of people are talking about on Twitter.

At the time of writing this post, its election day in the US and so that’s at the top of the list of what’s trending.

Also, you can pay to have a certain hashtag promoted to be seen by a target audience like in the case of the hashtag #VoteObama in the screenshot above.

What are protected tweets?

When you set up your Twitter profile, you can choose to protect your tweets.  That means that you’ll need to grant permission for other people see your tweets every time someone follows you.

I don’t recommend that you protect your Tweets.

Twitter is about having public conversations and meeting new people.  Protecting your tweets severely hinders that and I’ll never recommend doing that on this blog.

Key Takeaway

I don’t want to overwhelm you with a lot of information but this should give you a firm foundation on how to use Twitter.

As you use Twitter regularly, you’ll see what a friendly community it is and what a handy tool it can be.

If you have any questions, drop me a comment and I’ll reply back ASAP.

Also, be sure to check out this blog post to make sure that you aren’t making these popular Twitter mistakes.


[image credits to Martin Hawksey and Lucian Milasan]

Comments 23

  1. Great job on this article Peter! Well written and explains Twitter quite well. Looking forward to the rest of the articles on Twitter.

    Thank you Peter for the mentions in this article, what a blessing you are to me. 🙂

    1. Thanks Greg, I wanted to start from the very beginning for those people that are just starting with Twitter. For you, you are much more advanced and there’s going to be plenty of stuff that’s applicable to your online ministry coming soon 🙂

  2. Peter nice job brother. We finally have a well written article where we could point out to anyone that needs a better understanding of how Twitter work. I am sure this will be a blessing to many that are thinking of sharing the word of God on this exciting network. God bless your work brother. Looking forward for many more to come!

  3. I found this blog via Rigo Campos on Google+.

    Nice short write up. I have a friend who doesn’t understand what Twitter is about or what it’s purpose is. I’m not sure if this will satisfy him with that or not, but I’ll be sharing it with him anyway (on Facebook).

    1. @google-0e2c0b99c2c4f05d3a116160411ca6cc:disqus thank you brother for sharing this with your friends. Yes I agree. Many are confuse about the importance of Twitter and this will help them out. God bless you brother and I hope the article could help your friend and many others and they could make a very good use of this powerful network. Stay bless

        1. @peterguirguis:disqus well now we have a blog article to point them to in case they need to find out how the network works. So will see but it will be good for them to join and share the content of our home church.

    2. Thank you very much Stephen for sharing this article with your friend, I think that the more people that we can have on Twitter the better. It really is such a great social network and it has a lot to offer as I’m sure you agree 🙂

  4. Peter, you’ve always been my go to guy for all my Twitter info. With this post, now I have something clear and concise I can send to my friends who are just getting started.

    Thank you for writing this.

  5. Pingback: 17 Mistakes you're making on Twitter and how to fix them

  6. At first I joined looking for stars and other stuff, later I realize I just want to keep it all with possitive post, and people. I love the inspiring tweets about Jesus and I’m glad u found me Peter, or pastor Peter? Eithet/or I realized is not gonna happen, no Holly wood star wants to follow me, but alot of Christians care and have been coming Outta the wood work. Wow! Have a blessed day, thanks for the info and I’m glad I quit asking One direction to follow me for my Daugher, lol and I’ve asked God to lead me for my self&family/friends. God bless

    1. You are most welcome Amy, I’m glad that you found this post helpful. Please feel free to just call me Peter, I’m not a pastor or anything 🙂

      My niece is also really into One Direction. It’s unlikely that they are even doing their own tweets, they probably have someone doing it for them.

      Either way, I hope all is well with you Amy and thanks for stopping by the blog this week 🙂 God bless you

  7. Pingback: 17 Mistakes You’re Making on Twitter and How To Fix Them | My Social Wiki- Blog to curate content on Communications, Digital Marketing, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mobile, Paid Search, Google Search,Social Media, Social Media Marketing, social media tools, Twit

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