Twitter can be used as a messaging service such as Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk to engage in live conversations. It can also be used as a micro-blog where you can post for others to read. All this functionality is also available offline using text messages from cell phones.
Basically, it's a unique capacity to function as both an instant messaging service and a blogging platform to stay “hyper-connected”, making it a very sought after service, at least by those who have tried it.
When you decide to continue using Twitter, you must have the knowledge of some Twitter lingo so that you don't keep wondering what the person you are following is saying. And, you also need to know some commands that you can use from the Web update box, phone or Twitter apps. Type these commands in the Web update box or your Twitter app's update box and hit enter. If you are using Twitter on a cell phone through text SMSes, send the message to the Twitter number.
Follow: Following someone is receiving their Twitter updates in your timeline. When you follow someone, every time they post a new message, it gets updated on your home page in real time.
@replies: Twitter is meant for two-way conversation. @reply is used to reply to someone's tweet or grab attention of the person. If you wish to reply to, say, Sarah's tweet, when you click on reply option it will automatically begin your message with @sarah. You need to start typing your message after @sarah. As Twitter support text messages or SMSes, if you wish to get Sarah's attention, you will begin your message with @sarah followed by space and then your message (@username message). The message will appear in Sarah's Twitter page under “Replies” tab.
Example: @sarah coming to the party?
@replies are neither private and nor a reliable way of sending messages. Some Twitter users set their accounts to not highlight @replies, or allow only @replies from friends to appear in their Twitter timeline, letting other @replies go unnoticed.
Direct or private messages (DM): Twitter allows people to have private conversation through direct or private messages. But this is allowed only if the sender is being followed by the recipient. This restriction makes private messaging possible only between friends or acquaintances who have mutually agreed to have conversation. This requirement minimizes Twitter's use for spamming.
To send a private message write d followed by space and then user name followed by space and then your message (d username message). If I wish to send a private message to my friend, say, Seth, who is following me, I will type “d seth my message”. Now, Seth can revert back with a private message only if I am following him.
Example: d seth where are you?
As direct messages are visible only to the sender and the recipient, it provides some privacy and helps reduce clutter on Twitter. If you use public messages for conversing with someone, you would be cluttering the timelines of all your followers with irrelevant tweets.
Re-tweet or RT: If you are forwarding someone else's tweet, you are supposed to write RT at the beginning. (RT is not a command but just an indicator to let others know the actual origin of the tweet.) It is witten in the following format: RT @original_twitter_user message
WHOIS username: This command is used to retrieve the profile information for any public user on Twitter. Type WHOIS followed by user name.
Example: WHOIS sarah
GET username: It retrieves the latest Twitter update posted by the person. Type get followed by space and then username.
Example: get finch
INVITE: If you wish to invite a friend on Twitter, you can have an SMS invite sent to her. Invite followed by space and then friend's phone number.
FAVOURITES: Twitter allows you to mark a tweet as your favourite by clicking on the star next to the tweet. You can read and enjoy them at any later point. You can also read others favourite tweets.
If you are using Twitter through SMSes over a phone, you can still mark it as favourite. To mark a tweet as favourite, reply to the update with FAV. If you want to mark the last tweet by any person as favourite, send FAV followed by space and then username.
Example: fav kg86
STATS: This command returns your number of followers, how many people you're following, and which words you're tracking.
NUDGE: If a friend has not been updating his Twitter profile for long, nudge command will send a friendly note to his phone for updating their profile. Nudge followed by space and then username.
PS: This is the second in a series on Twitter. More to come. Keep reading.
Part1: Birds of same feather tweet together
Part2: Learning the language of Twitter
Part3: Twittering? Get clients for latest updates
Part4: Be highly mobile with Twitter