Twitter: Getting Your Head Around its Syntax

For the purposes of understanding the power behind “Twitter”, I have decided to write my blog article this week on this popular social networking platform. Given that it has been a nemesis for some of our political friends in recent times, it demonstrates the power that social media has in Irish society today. This article will endeavour to demonstrate how to use Twitter in addition to acting as a basic reference guide in order to to get you up and tweeting. It is amazing really how Twitter has taken off. I suspect a lot of its success is down to the fact that it gives people and celebrities alike control as to what content they put out there into the world!

So what is Twitter?

According to Wikipedia:

“Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”.

These messages or “tweets” are available to the public so anyone can read them. Twitter users can follow your account once you accept them, and therefore have access to what you “tweet” about. They see your tweets in their timeline.

Timeline of Twitter

It is hard to believe that Twitter only came into existence in March 2006. By March 2012, it had grown to a staggering 140 million users, with an activity of over 340 million tweets taking place across the across the globe every day.

How do I use it?

Like any social media network you need to set up an account. Once you are up and running, you will need to get familiar with the short syntax that is used in Twitter. As there are only a maximum of 140 characters per tweet, Twitter have created a lexicon of syntax in order to pack more of a punch! Here are the syntax terms that you will need to familiarise yourself with.



Mention [@]

Once signed up with an account, you can talk about other accounts in your tweets by using the @ symbol. For example

“Falling in love with some nice watches@rollex

Retweet [Retweet]

When you see a tweet by another user that you would like to share, just click Retweet below it to send it on to your followers.

Hashtag [#]

You need to put a hashtag in front of tweets when you want to categorise it. For example if you want to tweet about the London Olympics, tweet

“Over in London at the moment, having fun at the #LondonOlympics”

Think of hashtags as the theme of your Tweet. Users can then click on a hashtag to see other tweets on this topic and will find yours in the search.


If you want to send a private message to another Twitterer who is already one of your followers, then start your tweet with DM {direct message} or D {direct) to direct message them.

DM@johnsmith are you about for a few drinks over the weekend?”

Use it for Business Purposes

In order to engage with your target audience, you can use twitter to communicate with them in a more direct but friendly way. You can interact with them on a platform of their choosing, and develop a more engaging experience for them. Twitter is a very powerful medium for the public. When Cadbury discontinued their Wispa Gold chocolate bar, there was an outcry on Twitter to reinstate it. As a result of all the comotion on Twitter they had to put it back into production again. As a result it is

now included in the London Olympics 2012 and Paralympic Games sponsorship.

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