I’m stunned that even after all this time, Twitter doesn’t send out a welcome message with basic instructions on how to use their service. It would be really simple, but I guess they think it’s intuitive. It’s not.

Using the Twitter website: Login with your username and password. See that box that says “What are you doing?”? That’s where you’ll make your posts. If you’re not following anybody, your posts are all you’re going to see.

Click the link for “find people” at the top of the page. Here you can search for a company name, a person’s name, or a user name. You can also search your other networks for names to add here. Twitter search will search the database for names that are close and bring up a list. Click their name to go to their page and learn more, or click the follow button to follow them. They will get a message letting them know you’ve started following them and they might also follow you back, or at least look at your profile to learn more.

Once you’ve followed someone, you’ll start seeing their Tweets in your Twitter stream (on your Twitter home page). These are only the tweets of the people you follow. Until they follow you back they probably won’t see yours at all. Don’t follow too many people right off the bat, especially right away. If you haven’t said anything interesting yet, why would they want to follow you? Choose your Twitter friends carefully for the value they add to you and your network. Take your time.

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