What is Twitter and how to tweet

Lynn Wright / 28 October 2015

Learn how to post your first tweet and find out how to keep up to date with people and topics that interest you with our beginner's guide to Twitter.



What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social networking site where users share their thoughts, opinions, news, and updates in brief text messages of up to 140 characters.

Called tweets, these short messages can also contain photos and videos. Millions of people including celebrities, politicians, organisations and news media use Twitter to share information.

Twitter is a great way to stay up to date with the latest events. For example, news organisations send tweets about breaking news headlines and train companies send tweets with status updates about travel disruption in your area.

Tweets from the people or companies you follow appear on your Twitter homepage as a series of constantly updated headlines.

You can use Twitter on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Read how to choose the best tablet here

How do I get started with Twitter?

To create a Twitter account, visit www.twitter.com and fill in the sign-up fields with your name, email address and a password. You can also choose a twitter name so people can find you on Twitter and follow your tweets.

Once signed up, you can choose to see tweets from news, TV shows, sport, government and music categories among others. 

Once set-up, click View all in the Who to follow box on your main Twitter page to see suggestions of people to follow.

When you follow someone, their tweets will appear on your Twitter timeline – so it’s easy to see all the news from all your sources in one place.

How do I find and follow news and events?

Use the Search box at the top of the Twitter page to find people to follow.

To search for a company, such as Saga, type Saga into the Search Twitter box. From the list of results, click the company name to see their tweets. If you’d like to get tweets from them in the future, click the Follow button.

You can also search for topics that interest you by using the # prefix to your search.

If you wanted to search for news about the Rugby World Cup, type #rugbyworldcup into the Search Twitter box. This will show all tweets that relate to the Rugby World Cup.

To find events in your local area, you can search for local news outlets to see if they send tweets, or local venues such as theatres.

Typing in your local area with a ‘#’ prefix, such as ‘#Folkestone’ will show any tweets about things happening in that area.

Read how to choose a smartphone here 

How do I tweet and get involved?

Twitter isn’t just about reading tweets. You can create a lively forum by posting your own tweets or join in the conversation by replying to tweets or sending messages to people on Twitter.

If you like someone’s tweet, retweet it to your followers by clicking the Retweet icon beneath the tweet – it looks like a recycle icon with two arrows. In the pop-up, add a message and click Retweet.

To create your own tweets, simply type a short update into the What’s happening box at the top of your Twitter feed. You’re limited to 140 characters, but you can click the camera icon to add a photo or video with the message. Once entered, click the Tweet button to publish the tweet for others to see.

If it is about a topic, add the topic with a hashtag, such as #rugby within the tweet itself so others can find it.

To send a tweet about someone, you can prefix their Twitter username with the @ symbol, such as @davidcameron_mp to send a tweet that mentions the prime minister.

Enter simple Twitter giveaways to win great prizes!

If you search for popular competition hashtags like, #giveaway, #competition or #prizedraws you will find plenty of fabulous prizes you can win for free. 

All you have to do is follow the competition promoter's Twitter and account and retweet each competition tweet.

It can help you win if you include your real name and complete the bio with your hobbies and interests.

If a competition promoter is giving away free pet food and you say you love pets then you stand a better chance of winning.

Why not give it a try and follow @SagaUK on Twitter and enter some of our daily giveaways!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.