Twitter For Smarties

Well, I didn’t want to call you a Dummy!

For those who may not have been exposed to the phenomenon of Twitter, or who don’t understand it enough to see its usefulness, I have decided to write some of what I know that makes it interesting for me. I’m certain there are more tips and tricks out there, and I may update this article in the future.

Twitter is now being hailed across the web as the “New Facebook”, meaning it is taking over in popularity as the Social Network of choice for a large number of people and is adding more features including attaching photos and videos to your “Tweets”. One example of the buzz is this article from CNN: http://jmjsites.info/url/witter

It can also be used to connect a large audience of participants and hosts of events, such as the recent GOP Presidential Candidate Debate.

Ok, here’s some basics:

Twitter is free. Just go to http://twitter.com and sign up for an account. Easy as pie. Pick a descriptive or clever Username because that is how everyone will recognize you when “Tweeting”. It doesn’t matter as much when you are starting out, but once you get a following, you can’t change it and keep the same followers.

Once you have a Twitter account, you can start “Following” others that interest you. From your choices, you will have some people follow you back, and possibly some of their followers may also decide to follow you.

What Twitter is all about: Your Tweets. You have just 140 characters to post a thought, an idea, a quote, etc. You can even attach a photo or video to a Tweet. IMHO, original ideas and experiences are best, but you can also pass on other info. Sometimes that 140-character limit requires you to be creative how you spell or abbreviate your thoughts.

There are several ways to pass on other info to your Followers.

  • Direct quote. Use quote marks “” around quote and cite original author.
  • On most web sites now, including all the major (and minor) News sites, you will find a Twitter or Share button that will allow you to tweet a link to that article on your twitter account. If you are not logged in to your Twitter account, it will ask you to log in when you click the button.
  • Paraphrase and use your own wit to enhance the tweet.
  • You can “Retweet” someone else’s Tweet so your followers can see the cleverness you saw. This automatically puts a “RT” in front of the tweet and credits the original tweeter with an “@theirname” added, also called a “Mention”.
  • Retweet but Modify the Tweet using “MT” instead of RT.

Mentions: You can “Mention” someone that you want others to know about by using their Twitter username preceded by a “@”. This will connect their profile to your tweet. You will also Mention someone automatically when you are Replying to their tweet by using the Reply button or link.

Hashtags: Any word or abbreviation preceded by “#” on Twitter is called a “Hashtag”. Twitter users use hashtags to follow certain subjects or ideas across the entirety of all Twitter users. You will commonly see a list of popular “trending” topics containing hashtags. This usually happens when a) there is a particularly interesting news item; or b) people are bored.

There is a lot more to be learned by using Twitter. A rule of thumb is that the more people you follow, the more will follow you. Not all of them will have the best of intentions, so don’t automatically follow them all. Some, you may want to follow because you agree with their tweets, some you may want to follow because you disagree.

It also helps to gain followers if you Tweet on a regular basis. Keep it interesting though, not so much like a MySpace update (“I am happy today”), but something that may interest a broader audience than just your mom.

IMHO = In My Humble Opinion, AFAIK = As Far As I Know. Those are just a couple Freebies I threw in, you can usually figure out what abbreviations mean by using context.

If you keep it up, pretty soon you will enjoy a mass following and be connected to a whole new social network of friends and information, and you will be contributing to their information networks as well.

Good luck and “Happy Tweeting”!

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