I'm pretty new to Twitter (@goldenm) and I don't spend a ton of time on it. But I felt compelled to check it out and see what the buzz is about.
Would there be value for a business person? For personal reasons? I was a skeptic, but enough people I know and respect were spending energy there, so I thought, perhaps, I was wrong.
Twitter is a microblogging site that allows people to post their thoughts while trying to do so using 140 characters or fewer. <--about the length of that sentence.
INTRO TO TWITTER
I actually enjoy popping in once or twice a day for a few minutes to see what people are talking about. I started "following" some friends and business assocaites I could find, and then added a couple strangers whose posts/replies to my friends were intriguing. Most of those "strangers" quickly followed me back.
Pretty soon, some new "strangers" started following me. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to follow them back or not. I didn't know if it mattered. Who are they? Why would I want to see their tweets?
Some of them seemed to post constantly and my screen would be completely full with just them. Of course, that is more likely when you only follow a few people. But there were a couple that I decided were not posting things that were terribly interesting to me or were blatently self-promoting. Not once, but repeatedly. Bye-bye.
Click on someone's name and a quick skim will tell you what they post about and if they are using Twitter as a sales mechansim.
VALUE OF TWITTER
Much to my surprise, in a couple weeks, I've found several benefits from my time on Twitter:
- very short intros to nuggets of information
- great links
- interesting news items
- wise ponderings
- tips on how they cope with juggling
- technologies they are exploring
- observations they have
To the last point, when I couldn't find good, up to date (actual on-the-street) news about the fires in So Cal last week, of all places, the Orange County Register piped in a feed of all Tweets talking about the fires. I could read continuous feeds, and see pics, from people talking about the fires in my home town, very near my mom. This relieved my worries in a way nothing else did. In fact, some of the Twitterers were so interesting, I still follow them.
My only beef with the experience, and I will stay on it, were the challenges I had in figuring out some basics...how can I search for stuff, for instance.
Search: Even if you go to Twitter's Help and ask "How can I search twitter?" there is no clear answer. I must really be dork because I didn't notice the very subtle search link stashed at the bottom of the page. Search at search.twitter.com and some guidelines for searching are enormously helpful: http://search.twitter.com/operators
DM, RT, @, #, tinyurl, ... what do these things mean?
DM is a direct message to a specific person (that remains private) RT is re-tweet (or posting to your followers something you read from other tweeple (seriously, that's what twitter users are called) @ is a reply to a specific person (not private)
DM is a direct message to a specific person (that remains private)
RT is re-tweet (or posting to your followers something you read from other tweeple (seriously, that's what twitter users are called)
@ is a reply to a specific person (not private)
To read more on Twitter, why and how, see this five-post series on the blog of Jennifer Laylock of Search Engine Guide.
WHOM TO FOLLOW, WHAT TO DO?
I've read it is "bad" to have a big variance between your number of followers and those you follow. But I didn't necessarily understand why. Jack's article helped put this into perspective of the value of social media, and the comments on his post help as well.
In fact, Jack has great articles on his TweeterBlog and info on how to get started. Wish I'd found his blog on day one!
For me, I'm still Tweeting about. Enjoying meeting new people and soaking up at least one or two great new ideas a day. Now that I've read these articles (above), I'll get more involved in replying, too. I didn't know it wasn't rude on Twitter to "butt in" to a conversation. Thanks for clearing that up, Jennifer!