Many consider Twitter the latest social media craze on the Internet. It’s called “mini-blogging” by others. The concept is – you have 140 characters to get your message across. Think fast, think short. You connect to people all over the world and you use all that you can to gain attention. This means choosing an identity that might draw people (most use their names, but others use something that points to a recognized or interesting concept. Bloggers often use their blog name. Those tweeting for a news agency will use the name of the media organization. Whatever it takes to get people to read your 140 characters.
Twitter is based on a combination of three concepts; three statistics that define how effectively you are networking in the Twitter world:
- Followers: these are the people who have chosen to receive each of your 140 character “tweets”.
- Following: these are the people you have chosen to follow. Each time they “tweet,” you’ll receive their message (again, limited to 140 characters).
- Updates: this is the number of mini-blog posts you make.
And I’ll add two more:
- DM: Direct messages – you can send a tweet to an individual (but only if they are following you).
- RT: Retweet – you can take a message you receive from someone and pass it on to your followers.
So, that’s Twitter in a nutshell. What can be accomplished using Twitter? The answer, I believe, is as yet not fully defined. Certainly people are using Twitter to network and quickly make known job openings (or their availability). Need to know about a restaurant in a particular city? Tweet the question and you are likely to get an answer. Of course, you can google it too – but with Twitter, you’ll get someone telling you not only where the restaurant is, but the name of the best waiter or salad, the general cost, or a great place to find parking nearby.
Twitter is also being used more and more by celebrities. Recently the big hit on Twitter was Ashton Kutcher’s recent challenge. He wanted to beat CNN to gain 1 million followers. The prize if he won, a donation to a favorite charity.
Once you’ve got the basics, there are some important tips that can help you tweet effectively. Here are a few of them:
- How to make the most of your 140 characters
- Use and effective interface – try TweetDeck to organize your tweets.
- If you are just getting started, you may want to read this article about the basics: 13 Twitter Tips and Tutorials for Beginners.
The main thing about Twitter is to enjoy the experience of chatting with friends around the world – and others whom you have never met. You can build groups to help you organize your followers. This is something that becomes essential as you climb into the hundreds of followers.
Twitter is being used for many purposes – both personal and professional. People are networking for jobs, organizing social events, commenting in real-time about what they are experiencing, and much more. It takes a while to get the lingo and understand all that is possible. But the one thing I can tell you for sure, is that it is a very addictive experience.
You can start by going to www.twitter.com to register for a name but you will soon abandon the website as it is very difficult to really follow and be followed via this interface. Still, if you want to upload a new picture (called an avatar), you’ll have to do that via the Twitter website.