Twitter for Newbies: Top 10 Things To Know

You've heard all the ruckus about Twitter, but never really got what it was all about. You watch TV every night and see all those words prefaced by "#" at the bottom of the screen and can't figure out why they are there. This article is for you.

Twitter, beloved by the news media, celebrities, sports stars and politicians, is planning to go public with an IPO that could raise $1 billion. But in documents filed related to those plans, Twitter disclosed that its audience base is at about 218 million monthly active users. That's smaller than Facebook's 1.1 billion or Google+, which has 500 million registered users.

Much of that, analysts say, is because Twitter is a harder nut to crack for many people. So, for today, let's take a good look at 10 ways to use Twitter effectively:

1. Sign up

Go to twitter.com, register and select a screen name. Your new Twitter name will be prefaced with an @ sign. As in, I'm @jeffersongraham. Add it to your e-mail signature so people know to find you on Twitter.

2. Find People To Follow

Twitter is nothing until you start building a network of folks you're interested in hearing from. Are you a news junkie? Start by getting the news feeds from your favorite news organization, whether that be USA TODAY, CNN, the BBC or TheCincinnati Enquirer. Then go deeper, by following individual reporters as well. Most post not only their own latest updates, but also tidbits and news bites from elsewhere on the Web. Beyond the news, check out your favorite friends, athletes, politicians, musicians, comedians, movie and TV stars. But a word of caution there. Most of the famous folk hire staff to pen their posts, known as tweets. Comedians are the exception: Steve Martin, Bill Maher, Albert Brooks and others have...

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