>Getting Started with Twitter

>Getting started with Twitter is an easy process. Once you have created your account (which only takes a few minutes) you are ready to go! If you do happen to have a problem or need to know how to do something, Twitter has a good help page. The Getting Started section gives a good overview of the basic workings of Twitter. There are a few features I have found through reading the help section that I found to be interesting/important.

Public vs. Private Accounts
You don’t have to allow everyone to be able to view your updates. When you protect your account, anytime someone wants to follow you a request will be sent that you can then either accept or deny. When you protect your account you are limiting your interaction with the Twitter community. When your account is public you do not have to verify everyone who follows you. With a public account you can interact with others in the Twitter community even if they aren’t following you or you are following them.

Various Types of Limits
There are some limits existing for all user accounts. Currently Twitter limits the length of updates as well as the amount in a given time period. There is also a limit on how many people you can follow. The length of updates is limited to 140 characters per updates with no more than 1,000 total updates per day. For the limit on the number of followers, that will vary for each user. It is based on a ratio of followers to people you follow. It restricts you from being able to follow significantly more users than users who follow you. For most users these limits do not cause a problem. These limits are designed to help protect the system from errors.

@replies and Mentions
Sometimes on Twitter you may want to send a reply specific to a user. To do this you would use @reply. This works by starting your Tweet with @username for the person you would like to respond to. So, to give an example, if someone were to send a reply to me they would start their Tweet as @jlstoudenmire (message goes here). This message would then show up in my list of replies. A mention is very similar to a reply. You use the same format as the reply; the only difference is that a mention is in the body of a Tweet and not in the beginning. With a mention you can also have more than one username as a mention in the body of the Tweet.

Direct Messages
A direct message is a private reply to a user. If someone is following you, then you can send them a private (direct) message. A direct message can be thought of as something between a Tweet and an e-mail. It is still formatted like a Tweet and follows the same rules as a Tweet but it is private like an e-mail is.

Twitter Widgets
A Twitter widget allows you to add a mini version of Twitter to your website, Facebook or MySpace page. This widget can be customized so that you can show what you want to display. You can also add a Twitter Search widget (note: the search widget will not work on Facebook and MySpace pages). You can also add JavaScript to personalize your widget even farther.

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