If you're new to Twitter, congratulations. I've found it incredibly helpful since I started in late 2009. First up, new twitter user: go get Tweetdeck. Or Hootsuite. Right now. The Twitter website is lacking some basic functionality that both of those do a lot better.
Next, a starter's guide to those funny signs floating in the tiny Twitter messages:
- Putting @ before someone's name is like "tagging" someone on Facebook. So starting a post with @adamstober would specifically address me, making me more likely to see your post, even if I don't follow you. Saying "adamstober" without the @ means I'll probably miss the message.
- Using the # "hashtags." flags something to be found more easily in searches. A public post that says "it's nice in Boston" would be searchable if someone just happens to search for Boston. On the other hand, "it's nice out #Boston" gets grouped into public posts that are specifically about Boston.