Twitter masterclass: Advanced tweeting

You've signed up to Twitter and you're bursting with ideas. It's time to have some fun, as we take you through the features that will make you a Twitter ninja

Yesterday we talked the newbies through the first steps on the Twitter ladder, in part one of our Twitter masterclass. Today, we'll be looking at Twitter's extra features, and considering the different ways the site is used. If you already know your @ from your RT, skip to page 6 to have your say on the etiquette of Twitter usage, or page 7 to discuss the recent influx of celebrities. Or why not keep reading: you might learn something...

Link it up

As well as sharing your thoughts, jokes and rants, you can share cool stuff from the Internet on Twitter. Twitter will automatically turn a URL into a link, but the length of a Web address will eat your 140 characters faster than you can say: 'Click here!' That's where URL-shortening services come in.

The best known is TinyURL, but there are plenty of others. What these services do is take a long URL and shrink it down to a much shorter unique code. For example, the URL to our Become a Twitter Expert page,,39029471,49300955,00.htm, becomes

The shorter the URL the better, so for the CNET UK Twitter feed we use, which has a Firefox extension and a separate feed of all your shortened links. Or you could go for, which cuts our example URL down to a thrifty These sawn-off URLs work anywhere -- in emails, on blogs -- and not just on Twitter.

With a short URL, you have spare characters left to write something clever and give your followers a reason to click. And, when they have, they can reply to tell you how cool it was...

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