Are you one of those “what the heck is Twitter, anyway?” people? I was too. I signed up. Logged in. Got overwhelmed and didn’t go back for months. I didn’t get the whole mircoblogging thing.
So, for you, those who like me who just kind of scratch your head and ask “what IS Twitter?”, I’ll try to explain a bit. I might even get you to check it out. To realize the potential. To get in on the fun.
(this is a long post, so I split it into two sections. Click on the more key if you need to to see the second half of the post.)
Easy Guide to Twitter:
Twitter is a microblogging platform. You have 140 characters to say what you want to say. No more, but you can use less. Twitter isn’t only about letting people know what you’re doing, what you’re eating, what the weather is…though people do filter in those brief comments about their lives. Twitter is about finding other like minded individuals and following them. It’s about instant access to information. It’s another building block in your online community.
Go to Twitter.com and sign up for an account. It’s quick, it’s easy. Use your real name, your pseudonym, your business name, or a name you’re know as online, depending on what/who you’re trying to connect to. A lot of people use their blog name.
Okay, all signed up? Go to your settings page and upload a photo for your avatar. No, you don’t have to, but it sure makes it easier to keep track of people on twitter when they have a unique avatar.
Go to some of your favorite blogs and see if they have a follow me on twitter link. Click on it and follow them. You’ll now see their updates. Easy, right?
Go to Twitter and type your first update into the box. Just type away. 140 characters. Go for it. Everyone following you will see what you said.
This is what you’ll see. A list of updates from people you follow. (sorry for the blurry screen capture)
What’s this whole @ thing about?
You’ll see updates like this:
mentalmama @kaceyskeyboard How was your walk today?
This means Mental Mama has commented to me, but anyone following me will see the update.
What’s with Direct Messages?
Our same beloved Mental Mama could have sent the message to me directly:
d kaceyskeyboard You slacker I know you haven’t walked today. Wuss.
With a direct message, only the person it was sent to will see it. So I don’t have to hurt Mental Mama for yelling at me publicly. :wink:
I also have the Twitterific app installed on my iPhone and I can keep up with Twitter when I’m on the road. You don’t know how entertaining that can be on long road trips!
Now Some Really Cool Ways to Use Twitter.
Politics and Twitter.
Want to keep up what’s going on in the political arena? Go to the Twitter Election Coverage page. It’s a live feed of election topics people are tweeting about. This was an amazing way to follow the presidential candidates debates! I’m so going to be there for the vice presidential candidates debates too.
What’s happening Right Now.
What to know something that’s happening right now? Use the Twitter Search Page.
I’ve used it for topics such as:
Hurricane Ike (I put in the name of the town we used to live in in Louisiana to see how it handled the storm)
Mizzou (for football game scores)
BlogHer08 (info on the conference I went to in San Francisco)
How do I use Twitter?
I use Twitter to keep up with my blogging friends. I’ve also discovered a lot of other interesting, like minded people that I follow now. I follow the hometown paper in the town where my boys go to college. I follow software companies of applications I’ve gotten for my iPhone like Evernote. When I find a blog post I really like, I link to it on Twitter if I think my followers might be interested in it too. I sometimes link to my own blog posts. I ask questions that I need an answer to. People have a lot of answers for you!
I’ll mention TwitterMoms here too. It’s an active community on Ning where moms who tweet hang out. Their site says it’s the “online version of the three martini playdate.” It was the brainchild of Megan Calhoun (her twitter profile) and it was a brilliant idea. Over 1000 people have joined in just a few weeks. The marketing major in me really admires a creative idea like TwitterMoms! There are groups, discussions, and a great resource if you’re looking for more information. It hopefully won’t get too spammy with people trying to promote their sites or products. Right now they are doing a great job of keeping the spammy stuff out. So if you sign up for Twitter, go give TwitterMoms a try too. I’ve signed up to have a Boomer Blogger Group over there, so those of us with a bit more age on us :wink: can have a place to hang out. Friend me on TwitterMoms. Go check it out!
There is so much more I could tell you about Twitter, but let’s keep it to the basics right now. I’ll do a follow up post on more ways to use Twitter, more options, and some other programs you can use to access Twitter instead of just using the website.
Okay, hope that helps anyone in the “what the heck IS Twitter” camp. Check it out. Ask any questions you may have. Anyone with a twitter account leave a link in your comment below so I can follow you. Oh, and follow me on Twitter.