U-Me New Media

Version 1.3

See also Social media compared

What is Twitter?

Twitter is like public email. That said, you can email the world but no one will read it unless others follow and retweet you.

What's your goal as a Tweeter?

  1. Follow others.
  2. Retweet and otherwise interact with them.
  3. Get followers.
  4. Repeat.


Athough you can use Twitter.com in a browser, almost no one does. Instead they use Twitter apps on their smartphones or full-featured Twitter clients like these:

Anatomy of a Tweet

Sender's name

Twitter will automatically show who a Tweet came from. It's like an email address--your exact name may not be available.

Sender's message

140-characters (about one long sentence). Abbreviations welcome.



Twitter uses "URL shorteners" with funny-looking domains like bit.ly, t.co, or fb.me. If you include a link, that leaves about 125 characters left for your regular message.

Images and videos

If you chose an image or video, Twitter will automatically upload and link it to your Tweet.


Can be automatically added by Twitter. Enable only if you want the world to know where you are.


@ ("At" symbol)

Don't start your Tweet with "@" unless you are directly addressing that person. (Be aware that such Tweets can go public anyway.)

@jonippolito @SultanOfSoil Do you know a good companion plant for tomatoes?

If you want to cc someone on your message, just include their handle later somewhere after your message; they will see your message pop up in their "Mentions" tab:

@jonippolito Does anyone know a good companion-plant for tomatoes? @SultanOfSoil @DoyenOfDirt @RandomStranger

# (Hashtag)

This is a quick way of getting attention from non-followers who may be interested in a subject:

@jonippolito #Solar power is now on in my net-zero-energy @mainecohousing home. Fossil-free heat in Maine! #cohousing #ecovillage

@jonippolito Setting up Twitter accounts for students in the 2012 #ContagiousMedia class!

HT (Hat Tip)

Use this with a Twitter handle to give credit for an idea or reference.

@jonippolito I learned today that DNA can be used to store cultural data such as books and images. HT @DigitCurator

RT (Retweet)

This is equivalent to forwarding an email to all of your followers.

@mainecohousing RT @belfastceltic Belfast Celtic Celebration features music, dancing, food on the Maine Coast. You'll find an entire schedule at http://celtic.com.

MT (Modified Tweet)

If you edit someone's Tweet--perhaps to make it short enough to add your own comment before it--change "RT" to "MT":


@belfastceltic Belfast Celtic Celebration features music, dancing, food on the Maine Coast. You'll find an entire schedule at http://celtic.com.


@jonippolito We will be there! MT @belfastceltic Belfast Celtic Celebration features music, dancing, food on the Maine Coast. http://celtic.com.

Purposes of Tweets


@mainecohousing Reminder: Ecovillage Summer Festival, Sunday 12 August 12-4. Pony rides, ice cream making, kite flying! http://fb.me/2bOSESz67


@jonippolito No home small if neighbors friendly! RT @sustainableMBA Housing is trending back to "small" (read: appropriately-sized) http://t.co/a29nnOKp

(Yes Magazine retweeted this and then followed @jonippolito.)

@jonippolito Does a village of 36 families need 72 cars? Not us! RT @craigdietrich: Portland, Maine sees decline in car ownership [link]

(@craigdietrich subsequently retweeted this commentary by @jonippolito on his own tweet.)

Asking questions

@MaryJane How did @mainecohousing get so many followers on Twitter/Facebook? Any advice for connecting w/ new members?

Sharing images and videos

@mainecohousing This photo of children helping to harvest crops is what we have to look forward to with our kids at cohousing. fb.me/1IGRHupLY


@susie Sitting with @SultanOfSoil and @jonippolito at Open Porch, sipping sun tea.

Best practices

These examples will help you test your understanding of best practices for Twitter.

Choose a Twitter handle that's easy for others to remember or recognize

Which are good practice?







Only post info you want to be public!

Which are good practice?


@jonippolito I'm off to Costa Rica for two weeks. Hope no one robs my house while I'm gone!


@jonippolito Just got back from visiting an ecovillage in Costa Rica--like @mainecohousing but with bananas instead of blueberries!


@anthonyweiner Check out this photo of my crotch

Explain any links or attachments in the Tweet itself

Which are good practice?


@jonippolito We can learn from this article on how to car-share. http://healthycommunity.com/article


@jonippolito What a photo! http://photoplace.com/myphoto


@jonippolito Our beautiful new triplex is finished! http://photoplace.com/myphoto


@jonippolito Great article. http://healthycommunity.com/article

Ignore spammers

Don't follow or trust accounts with too many random characters, especially if their picture shows a sexy woman or egg (Twitter's default icon).

Which should you reply to?


@CathyPerrulto Just blogged a reference to your NMD class at http://highered.edu


@HotMammaVx476r Check this out http://randomdomain.com

Hands-on workshop


Desktop computer, laptop or smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry), access to your email. Point your Web browser or smartphone to http://twitter.com.

(This exercise assumes you will be using Twitter.com, though you can follow a parallel workflow from other apps.)

1. "New to Twitter? Sign up"

You can use your real name or a pseudonym.

Check "keep me signed in."

Concerned about privacy? Uncheck "tailor to Web browsing."

2. "Build your timeline"

Ignore the celebrities. You'll search for and follow people who are part of your course or interest group in step 7.

3. "See who's here"

Scroll to the bottom and click "Skip This Step".

4. "Find people you know"

You can import contacts, or just click "Skip This Step".

5. "Add character"

Add an image and description for yourself.

6. Share your new Twitter name

If you're part of a class, follow the instructions given (eg, post your handle to a Slack channel, or write your name on a collective whiteboard).

7. Follow all your classmates

In the search box at upper right, type the name/s shared in step 6. Click on each name and then click "Follow."

8. Post your first Tweet


@jonippolito Looking forward to this semester's class with @DigitCurator!

9. Retweet someone else's Tweet

Hover over a Tweet in your timeline, then click "Retweet" or (the retweet icon).