Twitter tips for those who already use Twitter

Even long-term Twitter users are sometimes unaware of a few useful conventions and features. I’ve compiled several into this short post.

Thread multiple tweets of your own

I had been on Twitter since the stone ages—2007!—before I realized I could thread my own tweets. That is, make them appear as a series of messages in a sequence of my choosing. While by the time I learned this (from Ed Bott), Twitter had offered conversation threading for years, I hadn’t realized my own tweets could likewise be put in sequence.

It’s easy to do:

  1. Post a tweet.
  2. Reply to that tweet in whatever software you use.
  3. If the reply includes your handle, remove your handle. (Twitter.com and many third-party clients remove or select your handle to avoid this.)
  4. For your next message, reply to the tweet you just posted in reply.
  5. Repeat.

You can still number your tweetstorms, but you don’t have to—people can read in sequence just by selecting any tweet in the thread.

Don’t start with an @ to reach everyone

The @-mention convention was invented by users, like so much in Twitter. But Twitter incorporated it in a particular way. If you start a tweet with an @, only the recipient and all common followers between you see it by default. That is, “@jcenters You, my friend, are a genius” will only reach @jcenters and anyone who follows both Josh and me.

This can be confusing if you’re trying to “hat tip” someone (see below) and want to put their handle first. Better to put handles at the end of a message, or precede the message with a period or a tilde (~), which allows everyone who follows you to see the message.

Disable retweets from prolific retweeters

People who retweet a lot, like yours truly, can be annoying. But while you can use Twitter and third-party client mute features to suppress someone’s handle (and with third-party software keywords and other things) and block to disable them on your timeline entirely, Twitter also includes a function to stop seeing retweets made by a given user.

The most reliable place to manage this from is Twitter.com:

  1. Go to the profile page of a user.
  2. Click the gear icon next to the Follow/Following/Unfollow button at right.
  3. Select Turn Off Retweets.

It can reduce the seeming volume you get from someone who you want in your timeline, without their stream of including other people’s tweets.

Common Twitter abbreviations you may not know

Many of these are also used in texting, but if you’re not a frequent texter, Twitter may be the first place you encounter them.

TIL: That TIL means “Today I Learned”—it’s a shortcut to introduce something you discovered. (It comes from Reddit, I’ve been told.)

tbh, tfw, idk: to be honest, that feel when (how you feel when something happened), I don’t know

H/T or HT: Hat tip—a credit to someone who inspired or referred you to the resource you’re tweeting about.

MT: Modified tweet, used when you rewrite a tweet slightly to fit into the 140-character limit when trying to retweet it and comment on it at the same time. The new Twitter quote feature is better: you can reference a tweet and have that full tweet show along with your own message.