Sunday, January 23, 2011

Getting Around Twitter

This is the sixth in a series on Social Media.

Twitter—also called microblogging—allows you to send messages up to 140 characters in length. While that concept once sounded impossible, Twitter has become a worldwide phenomenon. For one thing, tweets are sent in real time making them a great way to broadcast news, events, products, services, and announcements. People tweet about conferences, uprisings around the w

All kind of apps have sprung up around Twitter, such as TweetDeck and HootSuite, which let you arrange tweets in columns by subject matter or favorites and import your blog posts as tweets.

Twitter has its own language, e.g., retweet is to copy and repost someone else’s tweet because you think it’s worth passing along. Follow means to keep track of another person’s tweets; a follower is someone who keeps track of yours. TweetChat is an application that permits multiple users to follow a Twitter conversation. A hashtag (#) in front of a word helps the Twitter search engine find a particular subject. DM is a direct message only the recipient can see.

Twitter isn't complicated. Across the top of the window is a black bar that contains these links:

  • Search for people on Twitter. The second column contains current trends.
  • Home has a place to write your message, as well see messages of those you are following.
  • Profile shows the messages you have sent to others, plus a section with information about you.
  • Messages contains recent messages to you and from you, plus a place to send a message to the last person who followed you on the "new Twitter."
  • Who to follow provides a list of people you might wish to follow.
  • A little pencil gives you another fast way to tweet.

Twitter is powerful, enlightening, and immediate. The site may have started out as a way to tell the world what you were having for breakfast or what movie you are going to see, but it didn’t take long for savvy social networkers to see its value. Using Twitter shorthand, you can squeeze a lot of information into those 140 characters.