It may languish in the shadow of the Facebook behemoth, but with Twitter claiming over 300 million active users and 500 million tweets being sent a day, it's no social media slouch. Indeed, there are many things that Twitter does better than anything else: such as breaking news alerts, keeping in touch with celebs, and so on. To help you boost your own Twitter skills we've collected the best tips and tricks to help you navigate the Twitterverse.

Turn off auto-play

By default, Twitter's website and iOS app start playing (muted) videos as soon as they appear in your feed, but you can disable this feature if you don't like it. On the web, head to the Settings page and the option is under the Content heading on the Account tab. Inside the iOS app, again go to Settings and you can find the option under Video autoplay.

Share your location... with care

If you use Twitter for Android or iOS you can let other people know where you're tweeting from. When composing a tweet, tap the map pin to share your location – you can choose how vague you want to be or broadcast your exact coordinates on a map, though remember anyone can see this. Note that on Android you need activate the feature in the settings first.

Use Lists to filter the Twitter stream

Once you start following hundreds of different people, Twitter Lists can really come in handy. For example, you can have one for all the celebrities you're following, one for all the news websites and one for all your real friends. On the Twitter website, click on the Lists heading to view your existing lists or start adding users you follow to a new one.

Report spam and abuse

While Twitter does have some spam-detecting algorithms built in, you can help it out by reporting any spammy or abusive messages you receive. It's possible to report individual tweets (via the More menu, three horizontal dots) or specific accounts (via the cog icon on the relevant profile).

Set up two-step verification

Two-step verification means someone needs more than just your password to get into your account – usually a unique code sent to a confirmed mobile phone number. Set this up on Twitter via the Security and privacy tab in Settings and your account is much better protected from unwanted visitors. In fact, it's worth reviewing all the options on that page.

Run advanced searches

The standard search box up in the top-right corner of the Twitter interface is nice and convenient, but you can do much more with the Advanced Search page. You can limit your search with a date range, look for tweets near a certain location (like a music festival) and even find tweets with a positive or a negative tone to them.

Accept DMs from anyone

Twitter recently introduced a feature that lets you accept 140-character Direct Messages from anyone, and you can enable it from the Security and privacy tab in Settings. The advantage is anyone can reach out to you, whether or not you follow them. But if you find yourself getting too popular, you can always disable the option again.

Find interesting people to follow

Getting the best from Twitter is all about cutting through the noise effectively. To find people you might be interested in, you can try searching for #hashtags based around your interests, checking out the followers of other accounts you like, and using the Who to follow box on the Twitter timeline (click Refresh to see more suggestions).

Manage notifications on mobile

Twitter's real-time, non-stop style can lead to your phone pinging more times than you might like, but you don't have to accept alerts for every retweet and mention. Head to the account settings page in the Android and iOS apps to make changes to the types of events that trigger notifications. For example, direct messages, favourites, new followers, etc.

Personalize your profile

Treat yourself to a profile overhaul (via the Design tab of Settings) and you'll find visitors much more likely to follow you. You can change background and profile images as well as colors, and don't neglect the bio information via the Edit profile button on your Twitter page (tell Twitter your birthday for a special greeting on the day).

Use TweetDeck for more powerful features

TweetDeck is the Twitter client that was so good, Twitter decided to acquire it. It's the tool of choice for power users, letting you set up customized, auto-scrolling columns based around your timeline, your notifications, searches, trends and more. You can access some extra advanced searching and filtering tools in TweetDeck too.

Use Buffer to schedule your tweets

There are many great Twitter plug-ins and add-ons, but we'll recommend just one: Buffer. It lets you schedule tweets to go out at specific times of the day, which is useful if you don't want to bombard your followers with a blitz of 10 interesting links in the space of 10 minutes. It has a lot of other helpful features too, and the basic version is free.

These are just a few tips to make you a more efficient tweeter or follower. If you have a few tricks of your own, please let us in on them in the comments.

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