So, you’ve decided to join Twitter.
Welcome. Anyone can tailor their Twitter experience to something they enjoy. You can make friends, communicate with your family, get the latest news, see behind the scenes on movie sets, get out a marketing message, or look for creative inspiration. All of these objectives can be met with Twitter, if you know that’s what you want to do.
- Twitter is not complicated. Each post can be up to 140 characters long. The site counts the characters for you.
- Twitter addresses are represented with @ – so my Twitter address is @dcgrrl – that will take you to a Twitter profile page, where you can read someone’s tweets and opt to follow or un-follow anyone on Twitter.
- To keep posts short and to the point, Twitter shortens web links and people sometimes use the same SMS text shorthand they use with their phones, like omg & thx alot.
- You only have to read the folks you’ve decided to subscribe to, or follow.
- Choose to follow people that will bring informative or entertaining value to your Twitter stream. Remember you don’t have to follow everyone that follows you. Beware of scam Twitter bots — those that are simply sending links to credit card or adult sites — they’re probably not real people, you should ignore them like spam e-mail.
- Feel free to un-follow someone if they’ve gone off topic or are over-tweeting for your reading schedule. You know when you read your tweets, and how many tweets you’re interested in reading.
- If you especially like someone’s post, or tweet, you can ReTweet it, signified by RT, and share it with your followers. Or save it as a Favorite for later reference. Posts go by in real time from all over the world. That immediacy is part of Twitter’s charm.
- Be careful of your language. Use a word like ‘p0rn’ in one post and you’ll be surprised by the type of followers you’ll gain. On the other hand, try cupcake + baking and you’ll eventually have the entire recipe contingent on your tail. And depending on your motives, that could be a good thing. (There are a lot of good cooks tweeting!)
- Topics that get lots of reference earn a hashtag # — such as #SOTU for State of the Union — as an indexing bookmark, so it’s easier to search everyone’s tweets for comments.
- Your Twitter posts are 100% public and anyone can read them. You can change your privacy: There are options to PROTECT your posts from being seen (under Settings), except from the followers you approve — perfect for kids who want to tweet — and you can BLOCK unwanted followers on individual profile pages. Use these tools to keep the Twittersphere safe for you and your family.
Now for some valuable references…
- http://search.twitter.com/search: You can search for anything on Twitter without having an account.
- Twitter Grader: Here you can find the ‘Elite’ tweeters worldwide and in your area for ideas on whom to start following.
- Localtweeps: Looking for friends? Localtweeps helps you find other folks on Twitter near you geographically, that you can tweet-up with in real life.
- WeFollow: Search for people to follow based on topics you’re interested in.
- Mr. Tweet: Helps by providing personalized recommendations for you.
- Twittervision: It lets you see tweets pop up all over the world, just what’s happening on our planet via Twitter.
- Tagalus: Defines the Hashtags.
- Corporate Avatar: Like Facebook, Linked In and other places, you need an avatar at Twitter. If you’re representing a company, you may want to be a bit strategic about your avatar.
- tinyurl: Twitter automatically shortens many links that people put into their posts. But sometimes you need to shorten your link to make it fit under the 140-character limit. This service is very handy and free (and run by donation).
- SMS language: Another helper in keeping your messages short and to the point is the shorthand you may already be familiar with from text messages. This link will take you to a brief dictionary on Wikipedia in case you get confused.
- #followfriday: This happens every week. Tweeps share some of their favorites with their followers and tag their post #followfriday or #ff. There is also a Wednesday version of this, #women2follow, for the ladies.
- Twitter Guide Book: from Mashable – very comprehensive!
PS: Tweeps I follow, featured in the image above: comedian @MichaelIanBlack, media journalist @HowardKurtz, DC shadow representative @MikePanetta, and homemaker and creative powerhouse @thepioneerwoman. More folks I follow on Twitter on my Tweeps I like page.
UPDATE: You will by default get e-mails from Twitter that notify you when someone starts following you. This includes a link to that person’s Twitter profile. You can turn this notification off at your Twitter settings page under Notices. However, if you take a look at your new followers, you can quickly identify if these folks are obvious spam accounts, and if they are, you can block them. (Actually, you can block anyone.) That helps Twitter keep the Twittersphere clean, and it protects your privacy from these folks.