Sunday, 17 October 2010

Twitter 101: WTF is Twitter?


[Ed: so I am updating this post for a friend on 2nd Jan 2015]

Right, so you have heard loads about this thing called "Twitter". You see it on CNN and almost every web page you visit.  You have been to the site, you have even registered and then you stare blankly at a page that has no content and you are not too sure what to do next.

You work out that you need to follow people to get content in front of you (your "stream"), but you dont know who to follow so you possibly follow randoms that twitter recommends. These recommendations at the start are always average and so the content is boring. And so is the platform, or so it seems. It pretty much is at beginning, but hang in there.  It is a wonder how twitter ever took off frankly.  However, the power of twitter lies not in its desktop webpages but in its 325,000+ servers that routes people's "tweets" around the internet; it's lightweight format and brevity and the ease of getting a message out.

You need to download an application to get real and consistent value from twitter. Hitting the website will slowly kill your will to live. I recommend TweetDeck - it works well on my android phone and Mac (it works on PC and iPhones too) Tweetbot for iOS - I no longer use a desktop client for twitter - it is worth every penny. In fact, I would easily pay $20 for this app, but dont tell Tapbots that.

Once set up with your power software, the trick is to follow "signalers" (smart people who tweet great content) and see who they follow.  You want to avoid "banals" (people who tweet crap).

If you want influence on Twitter, you should follow the The Rule of Three when tweeting:
  1. Be insightful
  2. Be funny, and/or
  3. Share other people's insights or funnies
(Ideally, do all 3.)

Here are some good South African minds to start with:
- Toby Shapshak
- Duncan McLeod
- Richard Mulholland
- Mike Stopforth

Some basic twitter vernacular and etiquette:
  • Tweet: is a 140 character message - it's genius is in this limit.
  • Retweet: when you take someone else's tweet and send it to your network because you believe is valuable to others
  • Hashtag: it is when you add a "#" to your tweet, usually at the end, followed by a word or combinations of words, with no spaces. These are done so it makes posts on a particular easily trackable and searchable. These are very effective for following conferences
  • Unfollow: when someone you follow is uninteresting or polluting your twitter stream, you drop them.  can be seen as an insult
  • Direct Message (DM): a message sent privately to another, the person needs to be following you.
See you on twitter!
@justinspratt


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