Are you on twitter? I am!! I joined in the fun as @FluffySheepQuil. If you would like to, you can follow me using the little button on the right hand side of the blog. Chance are I will follow you back!
Since I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what I am doing on Twitter, I quickly (like 15 minutes after joining...) ran to my friend Laura Jane for help. She was kind enough to write a guest post telling me all about it. Want to learn with me? Teach us, LJ! xx
So, Cindy asked me to do a little “Twitter 101” for you, her readers, after I helped her out settling into twitter. I wouldn’t say I was an expert; in fact I’ve not even been using twitter very long. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I got a twitter account years ago, but I followed, and was followed by, 3 people. My then Boyfriend, my Bestie, and my Dad. I thought, “What’s the point?!” I could just text any interesting life updates to my Bestie, or discuss it in person with the other two. So I didn’t tweet very much, if at all.
Fast forward to a month or so ago and I thought I’d give it another whirl, it seemed like something all the cool kids were doing, and I wanted in. In the short space of time I’ve been using it, I have tweeted 956 times, found 149 people to follow and am followed by 103. (This is not bragging. In twitter terms, I’m a bit of noob. I know people with upwards of 36,000 tweets. Yes @imagingermonkey, I’m looking at you… )
I’ll start by explaining the main twitter-isms, hopefully in a way that makes sense to all, and then give you a bit of an overview on how I personally see and use twitter. K?
Twitter is, at its core, a social networking site. You follow people you think are interesting, or are friends with, or who post funny tweets. You can also follow celebrities (authors, film stars, TV personalities, FABRIC DESIGNERS etc) or themed tweet accounts. When you follow someone, their tweets will be displayed in a stream on your home screen. You don’t necessarily have to know the person to follow their tweets.
When you tweet, your message is limited to 140 characters. This is based on the length of one standard sms message. Bear in mind if you are replying to someone, or a group of people, their user names will take up some of those characters. NB: Twitter will automatically shorten any web links you put in your tweet.
-Reply vs Mention
If you start a tweet with a user name, eg “@laurajane7789 I think you’re really cool” it is classed as a reply. Only people that follow both you and the person you are replying to will see this tweet in their stream. If you put the user name anywhere else in the message i.e. “I think @laurajane7789 is the coolest gal in town” it is classed as a mention. Anyone following you will see it in their stream.
To retweet a message is to pass it on to your followers, like a techy version of Chinese whispers. Twitter will automatically add the text “RT:” to the beginning of the message, and you can add some text to the beginning or end of the message as desired. Let’s say Cindy, @FluffySheepQuil, tweeted this “Showing a quilt at the Ireland modern quilt guild today!”, I might go ahead and retweet it to my followers because I thought it was interesting, or I wanted to get the word out to people who may not necessarily follow Cindy. I might add a little message when I retweeted it, so my tweet would look like this “Good luck Girl!! RT @fluffysheepquil Showing a quilt at the Ireland modern quilt guild today!”. Usually people retweet messages with web links/urls so you can go and look at something on the web that they liked.
You can send users direct messages, which are completely private tweets. They will only be seen by you and the recipient. You can only do this if you follow that person.
Hashtags are kind of hard to explain until you start reading the twitter language! In my opinion, they are used to either express a feeling of the message i.e. “Drank too much wine last night… #hungover #fail”, or are used to group a whole load of messages from different people together i.e. “I’m really excited about going to #sewingsummit”. You can click on the hashtag and see everyone’s tweets that include it, and as such they are used to “trend” stuff (i.e. make it popular among the millions of twitter users). Last week there was a #sixwordfilmplot trend… i.e. “big ship, cant sink, it sinks #sixwordfilmplot” (Titanic). I contributed “Tiger in bathroom, where’s the groom? #sixwordfilmplot” (The Hangover) to that one.
Learning to use Twitter is hard to begin with… well, not hard, just slightly overwhelming. But then one day you will have a light bulb moment. Everything will just click into place and you will be tweeting like mad. For me, it’s less about posting interesting one liners about what I’m doing (akin to facebook status updates, if the analogy helps anyone) because let’s face it, who wants to know that I’ve woken up, then gone to work, then come home from work, then ate some dinner… etc etc. It’s more about chatting with people who have similar interests.
I see it as less formal/long winded as an email, and not quite as personal as a text. Anyone can see what you are saying, which initially is a bit weird and voyeuristic, but actually works in its favour. By following one person, you can see and find out all kinds of things about other people (in a non stalkery way, of course), events, news etc. You might feel like you are butting in on people’s conversations, but don’t let that worry you. If you’ve got something to say on the subject, just bite the bullet and butt in!
Twitter moves fast. It’s a fact you just have to get used to. I have the twitter app on my iphone, which means I get notifications sent straight to me when someone mentions, or replies, or DM’s me. I occasionally have the webpage open on my desktop too, but truth be told, I find the app much easier to use. You WILL get sucked in. That’s another fact. There's always someone to talk to! From UK time zone perspective, early morning you get the Aussies before they go to bed, then the Brits all day. The Americans start waking up about lunchtime and will take you through to late night. By which time the Aussies are up and you can start all over again!
I hope this has cleared up at least some of the mystery surrounding twitter, for at least some of you. If you have any questions, do feel free to email me (LTAYLOR AT ETHITEC DOT COM), or you know, you could tweet me... I’m @laurajane7789