Twitter, a beginner’s guide
Twitter is one of the most used social networking sites of modern time. Along with facebook it now has millions of users worldwide. Not only is it the forum for the average person, but als0 for film stars, celebrities, sports people, statesmen, journalists and activists.
It has become the must-have online accessory, everybody who is somebody has to have one, and use it at least ten times a day.
Not only that, it has had a powerful impact on public relations, leveling the playing field between celebrities and us poor folk. Suddenly we are getting their life stories, minute by minute, and usually straight from the horses mouth.
More Journalists are posting to their twitter account than going to the newsroom. On Sky News the other week they just showed a twitterstream rather than trying to describe the news in question.
(I will explain the twitterstream thing in a minute)
Twitter was invented in 2007 by a small brainstorming group from the podcasting company Odeo. The idea was to work on extra small, constantly updated blog posts that could work like a text message. A short message, or a ‘tweet’ can consist of no more than 140 characters, be they letters, or punctuation. They can also be used for internet links.
So to get started, type in www.twitter.com into your URL bar and follow the simple instructions. Believe me it is pretty easy.
Then you have to find people to follow. They may be friends, relatives, football teams or celebrities. Use the search engine to find them. In addition, when you first join, you can use a feature to check your email address book for anyone with a twitter account, and it adds them automatically.
So how does Twitter work?
Imagine your town high street, completely empty. Now imagine someone walking down the street toward you. They may be a follower. If someone walks past you, up the street they are someone you are following. The more people you follow, the more people are likely to follow you back. Now the high street is filling with people all walking up and down the street. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the twitterstream.
How can it help you?
Well in lots of ways. You can use it to make friends and influence people, you can promote yourself, your products or your interests. Some people use it for flirting and dating, others have found a good support network in the twitterstream.
Where can I use Twitter?
Wherever you like, as it works via PC, Mac, iPhones and any relevant Apple technology. You can take it anywhere and it operates worldwide, 24 hours a day.
How do I post pictures?
You can use various other sites to post pics to twitter, such as moby.com or lockerz.com but in truth it is easier just to use twitter’s own photo uploader. All they ask is that you keep it tasteful and don’t post anything offensive.
How do I post links?
Knowing how to post a link to a website is a vital skill. It magically teleports people from twitter to your website, which should be your real shop window. To start, you have to have your web page up in a separate window. Then you copy and paste the link to twitter, write a brief description, and send the tweet.
Links can, of course, be very long so you can use the site http://www.tinyurl.com to shorten the URL which gives you more room to type a description.
What are hashtags?
They hash key looks like this # Before twitter is was one of the most under employed keys on the board. When twitter came along the hash key found itself in an exciting new role, as a digital sheepdog. On twitter, people talk about all manner of subjects constantly. To get people who want to talk about the same thing together you need a hash tag. For example, if a news story came up, and you wanted to tweet about it, you could type:
#News Has anybody heard anything about this?
Or if you wanted to talk to people about a programme on TV running live you use the name of the show as the hashtag:
#Frozenplanet Those penguins are cute, I want one.
Often they will now flash up the hashtag at the start of the show.
What is Follow Friday?
It is just a networking opportunity for people to meet more people to follow. Use the hashtag #FF or #Followfriday and type in the names of people you wish to include. They then do the same with people they want to include and you find new mutual friends to follow. It is like mingling at a party.
Is there much Spam?
Sadly there is an awful lot of people who want to sell you things, loan you money or get you to sign up to their site. Usually it will be a photo of a girl in a bikini with an absurd sounding name with four numbers behind it, this is the giveaway. Ignore this person completely, and block them.
Are there many stalkers about?
There are a few, so follow the online safety guide. Do not respond to provocative tweets, no matter how offensive. They just draw you into a stupid pointless argument. For more information please watch this documentary by Richard Bacon of the BBC:
Is Twitter safe for kids?
In all honesty, I would not recommend Twitter to anybody under at least 16 years of age for the reasons I have outlined above.
So that is my starter’s guide, I hope it is of some use to you and any feedback is always appreciated.