You’ve likely heard of Twitter by now…seeing as 50 million+ people have signed up to try this service that let’s you type in 140 character messages (tweets).
I signed up for Twitter almost a year ago but have only recently started to get the swing of it (you can see my profile at RobDunsonKelly).
Here are some answers to basic questions you might have as you get started on Twitter:
Anyone can — whatever you type into the “What’s Happening?” field can be seen by anyone who is “following” you (see below) or even a stranger who finds your posting by browsing and searching Twitter (unless you send a “direct message” (see below).
People may follow you simply because they saw your Twitter address in your auto-signature, on your LinkedIn or on your blog or you told them about it by phone or in person.
But most important is that people will follow you on Twitter through the valuable tweets you contribute.
As mentioned above, strangers will follow you as they find your tweets — so Twitter is a great way to meet new people.
Here’s a good Top-10 list of Ways To Increase Your Twitter Followers
You can follow anyone on Twitter you want as long as you can find their Twitter name (which you can do by clicking “Find People” from the upper right hand of the Twitter home page and searching them by name (even if their Twitter name is not their actual name).
When you first sign up for Twitter, it will ask you if you’d like to import your email addresses into Twitter and see who of your contacts is on Twitter (and then you can automatically follow them all or just select ones).
You can also follow people you don’t know whether it be a celebrity like Britney Spears or Bill Gates – go to TwitterHolics to find the most popular Tweeters — or a random stranger you find browsing through some of the Twitter lists.
Unlike LinkedIn or Facebook, Twitter does not require that two people follow each other. In other words, you can follow a celebrity like Bill Gates and he does not have to follow you.
If you want to type a message to someone on Twitter (and have only them see it), you type the letter “d” (for “direct”) immediately before their Twitter name (note: you can only do this to someone who is following you).
Check out here for more on How You Send a Private Message.
If you see a tweet that you think your followers will find valuable, then you can retweet it by clicking the Retweet icon next to the tweet (that Tweet will now show up on the list of tweets that your followers will see).
Check out this link for more on How ReTweeting Works.
The Twitter community came up with its own way to categorize Tweets called “hash-tagging.”
So, if you want your Tweet to be grouped with other like Tweets (so that they can be found by Twitter’s search engine or by other sites such as HashTags.org, you simply add a “#” symbol before a word in your Tweet.
For example, if you were going to an industry conference called the “Awesome Summit,” you could do a tweet that says: “I’m headed over to the #AwesomeSummit” and then your tweet will be grouped with anyone else’s tweet that also tagged “AwesomeSummit.”
That way, you and the other folks who have that hash-tag in common can more easily find each other.
Twitter provides lists of popular hash-tagged terms.
Here’s a list of tweets about the subject Warren Buffett.
To mention someone, you simple type the @ sign before their Twitter name into the “What’s Happening?” field on Twitter
So, for example, if you wanted to refer to me in your Twitter post, you would say something like: “Congrats to @RobDunsonKelly on his useful blog.”
If one of your followers clicks on the “@RobDunsonKelly” then they will see my Twitter page with all my most recent posts
note: the person you mention can see that you mentioned them through the right-hand side of their Twitter home page (or by using one of a number of tools such as TweetDeck).
Twitter can be a more efficient way to reference a Web page than the traditional method of email since it’s faster for you to do (you don’t have to type in the recipients names into Twitter) and it is then searchable by the Twitter community (your email isn’t searchable by others).
To reference a page on the Web using Twitter, you can: A) Paste in the URL into the “What’s Happening?” field on Twitter (e.g. @RobDunsonKelly wrote an interesting article on Twitter Tips at
How to Shorten a URL
To shorten a URL, you can use a URL shortening service such as bit.ly or tinyurl.com. I prefer bit.ly since its URLs are shorter and it also provides analytics (so you can see how many people click on the URL you put up on Twitter).
To shorten a URL on bit.ly, for example, just go to http://bit.ly and type the URL you want shortened into the field at the top and then bit.ly will provide you with a shorter URL (which will forever point to the original URL you wanted to share (unless bit.ly were to go out of business and screw the people who have shortened hundreds of millions of link).
There are also services such as TweetDeck which will automatically shorten a URL for you (you just type in the original URL and TweetDeck will shorten for you using bit.ly, TinyURL or another URL shortening service you choose).
I’ve found it super-useful to refer to job postings I know about using Twitter/bit.ly — it’s quick and I can then see how many people clicked on the URL and where they came from (Twitter versus LinkedIn or Facebook (assuming I posted the job there too which I often do).
Finally, if you use more than one of the following social networks: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace, you may want to try one a tool such as TweetDeck or HootSuite or Seesmic.
These tools can allow you to both read and post through multiple social networks at once!
I use TweetDeck which requires you to download software to your hard drive. HootSuite is a competing tool that offers a little less functionality than TweetDeck but it is Web-based so it can be used by you on any computer that has Web access.
Check out this video that gives you a quick demo of TweetDeck, HootSuite as well as two other related tools called NetVibes and Ping.fm…Seesmic is another player in this space though they’re not in the video.
And if you want to follow me on Twitter, just go to RobDunsonKelly and click “follow.”Tweet 7 Comments