23 Feb

Twitter Travel Tips: Simple Syntax

When we left for our trip in June2009 Twitter had been around for a little while but it hadn’t really taken off…or at least I didn’t realize the value of it at the time. Since returning I’ve learned much more about how Twitter works and how it can be used as a traveler. I’m no expert by any means but I do think that knowing how Twitter worked would have changed how we traveled. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share what I’ve learned so that you can put it to use in your own travels!!

Today we’ll talk about Simple Twitter Syntax; the pieces of Twitter that will help you speak in the Twitter ‘language’. There’s not much to it and it’s not that hard but, like anything, you should practice and play to get a better understanding.

Public The first, and most important, thing to remember about Twitter is that it is public. Tweets, retweets, mentions, replies…they are all absolutely, 100% available to be seen by other Twitter users. This isn’t like email where you control who sees what you write, or like Facebook where only your friends can see; everyone can see everything.

Tweet The 140 character message that you send. You can simply write, you can reference other users (see below), you can add links to websites/blogs (simply drop the url into the message; use a url shortener to save precious characters), you can add pictures (more on that later)…but, at it’s heart, a tweet is a simple 140 character message.

@name This is your Twitter user-name; mine is @OneGiantStep. Using a persons @name in tweets is a great way to be part of the community.

  • @reply When you are reading a tweet there is an option to reply. Clicking on reply will start a new tweet with that username at the start of the tweet. You can then add your 2¢ to the conversation and tweet it back.
  • @mention Placing a persons @name into any tweet will make that tweet show up in their @mention tab; they will clearly see that you mentioned them in a tweet.

Retweet Retweeting is sharing what others have tweeted. You read a tweet that is funny, insightful, interesting or informative and share it with your own followers. Having someone retweet your tweets means that you are reaching a much broader audience than your own set of followers. It’s a great way to acknowledge that you appreciate what someone wrote or shared.

You can retweet by clicking on the Retweet button or by prepending a reply tweet with RT. Depending on the interface you are using (we’ll talk more later about 3rd party applications) you may or may not be able to edit a retweet. Placing an RT in front of a reply will give you the option of editing the retweet; you can add comments before the RT or at the end of the message…but you still can’t go over 14o characters! Be creative.

Direct Message The only way to send a private message to another user is to DM (direct message) them. DMs are like Twitter email and can only be viewed by you and the person you sent it to. You can send a private message (only to someone who is following you) by clicking on the Message option or by prefacing your tweet with DM.

#Hashtags Hashtags came about through Twitter users and the desire to be able to tag tweets that are related to a particular subject. If you include a hashtag in your tweet, that tweet will be included in the list of tweets when that hashtag is searched. Make sense?

For example you can use the search function to search for all tweets that are tagged with #rtwsoon. This hashtag is used to identify tweets that might be of interest to those that are going on an RTW trip soon. You can include the #rtwsoon hashtag in any of your tweets that might be of interest to this group too.

Other #hashtags that I use regularly are:

  • #rtw
  • #travel
  • #lp (indicates Lonely Planet)
  • #rtwnow
  • #citycode (for example if I want to know about happenings in Victoria I search #yyj, the airport code for that city. I could also use #victoria)
  • #country (same as citycode; I could use #thailand, or #canada)
  • #company name (for example #rei, or #jetblue, or #gapadventures)

Next time we’ll talk about following, followers and using lists to manage it all.


You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts:

Twitter Travel Tips: What The Heck Is Twitter?

Twitter Travel Tips: Setting Up Your Twitter Account

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