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You’re probably reading this because you clicked on a link that popped up on your Facebook homepage or Twitter feed. That’s fine. Everyone has accepted that it’s the age of social media and that the most surefire way of getting your name or idea “out there” is by spreading the word on this little thing called the Internet. No one needs a how-to on Facebook usage (although an etiquette guide wouldn’t be a bad idea for some commenters), but if you joined Twitter in an attempt to embrace the online revolution, market yourself or follow Nathan Adrian, you might need a little help. We know we could have used some.

When we at the Clog first joined, this is what everything looked like to us: “#oiajfoijdovj @OIAJ!!&3094 haha! TWEET!” Yes, that is exactly what our eyes saw on the home screen. What the bajeezus were all these freaking hashtags and symbols for?! No one was sending an email, and all the words were jumbledintoonelongline. Twitter’s 140-character limit has made typing even worse than the days when LOL and SMH became annoying shorthand in texts. No wonder the university has so many writing requirements. We all sound illiterate these days! But enough with sounding like your grandparents … we promised we’d help you fit in among these online hashtag-using lifeforms.

First step to portraying the perfect Tweeted self: get a lot of followers. It won’t matter what your tweets look like if no one is reading them. Now, don’t go following any Tom, Dick and Harry on the Web. That could lead to some creeper problems. But follow companies you’re interested in, people at your school and fellow tweeters who write snarky and intelligent comments like yours. A lot of them will follow you back. If they don’t, at least you’ll have interesting tweets showing up when you log in. Following your favorite celebrities could also be an interesting experiment. *Cough cough, Adrian! Cough.* We’re not stalkers, we swear. Just showing some #calalumniolympicpride.

Okay, so that wasn’t the best example of hashtag usage. But that leads us to our next point: composing tweets in all their symbolic glory. If you don’t already know, hashtags basically make searching for something easier. So if you click on the link created by putting a # in front of text, every tweet that mentions the same hashtag will come up. They’re meant for trending topics and whatnot. So if you wanted to hop on the prince-obsessed bandwagon (granted, we’re in a hashtag revolution), you could write something with #RoyalBaby at the end. You can make up whatever you want, though, whether it’s a commonly used hashtag or not. So if you write a short rant (140 characters, not words, remember) about how much you hate Tele-BEARS, you could end it with #whydoestelebearssuck instead of just #TeleBEARSproblems. Then again, being Berkeley, both of those are probably already in common use.

Last thing you might find useful: replies and mentions. Until recently, we didn’t even know that’s what the @ symbols were referred to as. But if you want to interact with other users rather than keep the reading and writing separate, this could be for you. Say you see an awesome post advertised by The Daily Clog via Twitter (realistic situation, we think) and want to let us know just how awesome you think we are. You could write something like “@thedailyclog That article just made my day! #keepupthegoodwork.” Just type in the Twitter handle and compliment away. You could also use the function for more negative comments. Just not about us, of course. You can compose from your homepage or just reply to the user’s tweet directly, all thanks to that little ‘reply’ button placed conveniently underneath. You could also press the “retweet” button to spread the word to all your followers. This is how so many topics and articles and wise (or not-so-wise) words end up circulating to so many people. It’s the age of digital sharing, like it or not.

In honor of making it all the way to the bottom of this article and learning how to compose a successful tweet, we think you should take our advice and follow us. It’s only polite.

Image source: Esther Vargas under Creative Commons.

Contact Erum Khan at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @erumjkhan.