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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter-er’

So, quickly, Twitter is becoming popular.

Celebrities use it. News organizations use it. Businesses use it. But you don’t.picture-23

You’re a twirgin (someone who hasn’t used Twitter before.)

Beyond status updates, Twitter is a more powerful tool than you think. In a simple way this service allows people converse the hottest topics in real time. But I’ll get more into the full potential of Twitter in a sec.

//First, the lingo. The lingo is a little ridiculous…but here are some terms you might want to know.

  • Tweet. That’s your 140 character update.
  • Twitter-er. Coined by Twitter, that’s you.
  • Tumblelog. A blog where you write short posts rather than long posts (like this one.)
  • #hashtags. A means of joining broader conversations via tags. That’s fairly vague, but I’ll explain later in the post.

Next, let’s go through the average twirgin’s experience.

//in the beginning you have 0 followers, but you might be following 3 twitter-ers (probably Barack Obama, Kevin Rose, and your tech friend Mike at twitter.com/miketobias) You decided to use Twitter because you heard some friends buzzing about it. On your first day, you update twice. And then you think…this is it?

This is it? That phrase is so common amongst the twirgins. What’s so great about this?

I think this stems from twirgins who are used to Facebook status updates. And, at face value, Twitter and Facebook seem to overlap in the department of status updates.

And that’s the problem. Little twirgin, you have to look at Twitter as a tumblelog; and it starts getting cool because Twitter surpasses normal blogs in being social. So, Twitter is conversational whereas Facebook and Loopt are primarily for updates.

How is it conversational? It’s conversational in 2 ways, the @reply and the #hashtag. Let me break them delicately for your twirgin eyes.

1. The @reply. A twitter-er can include other twitter-ers in their tweet by adding the @ symbol in front of a user’s name.

Here’s an example tweet conversation:

miketobias: I’m so freaking tired of hearing about Rod Blagojevich!

twitterbud: @miketobias, me too. But I want to hear about @barackobama.

miketobias: @twitterbud David, I love @barackobama I’m going to get back to watching @maddow on MSNBC.

twittergal: @miketobias Mike! I’m watching @maddow right now too!

twitterdude: @miketobias, @twitterbud, @twittergal I think Obama’s stimulus plan sucks.

miketobias: @twitterdude Dad, I told you. It’s a good bill. Read about it at http://tr.im/fake

So, twirgin, you can see that your tweet becomes very interactive and spreads across several people.

How Twitter Changed the World: On his show, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez interacts with people via Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. While he uses all 3, he favors the real time interaction of the @reply. He will ask for people’s opinions, and viewers will use Twitter to reach him. “@ricksanchez I think press secretary Robert Gibbs was freaking awesome today!” You can follow @ricksanchez by going here.

Twirgin Silly Thinking: Well, @replies sound fine…but I can technically do that on Facebook. I can comment on people’s status updates.

Okay, that’s a good point still. Fundamentally, there is a similarity between Facebook and Twitter on that point. I choose to Twitter because the conversation is more global. It isn’t restricted to my friends or their friends…it’s open to everyone.

picture-2212. #hashtags. hashtags.org allows people to join a broader conversation on Twitter. You find popular topics on the website like Gaza, which is represented by the hashtag #gaza.

When you have a tweet to say about Gaza, you need to add that hashtag: “I think it’s a big mess in Gaza #gaza” This will bring your tweet to the discussion board on the site for others to read.

This will be an important step in finding followers. If someone thinks your commentary on Gaza is interesting…or they find it interesting that you’re talking about it…they might choose to follow you. And then the conversation can continue when they use an @reply. “@miketobias I think Israel needs to answer to the U.N. about the affected civilians. #gaza”

So, now that you understand (I hope) more about the interactivity of Twitter, let’s get you some followers to send @replies.

//Without followers, Twitter is pretty lame. I thought so at the beginning too. There’s a good chance your friends won’t be on Twitter. For me, out of my hundreds of Facebook friends only 6 are on Twitter. The same is true for many.

But that’s a good reason to be a social butterfly. Remember, a follower is not a friend. It’s just someone curious about your opinions or lifestyle.

Twirgin Silly Thinking: It’s always creepy friending strangers on Facebook. It’s going to be creepy following someone on Twitter.

That’s ridiculous.

After all Twitter is about putting your life in public. If someone didn’t want to be followed by others (and chances are most twitter-ers want to be followed by others) they would lock their profile. And sometimes that hasn’t stopped me from following people I thought were interesting.

Here are some ways to meet find new people to follow.

picture-2121. Twitter Search. Twitter Search is a service created by Twitter. It displays the highest trending words and #hashtags found in tweets. January 20th saw a rise in the terms Barack Obama, inauguration, #current. And Twitter Search lets you search for new terms. I’ve met people by searching “theatre.”

Anybody that’s tweeted about theatre in the last couple of seconds will be found.

If you like politics, you can search political words like “stimulus package” or “Hillary Clinton” to find people talking about those subjects.

Once you find an interesting twitter-er follow them. Not only that, send an @reply. Join their conversation! Give an interesting insight.

twitterstranger: I freaking love that new show on Discovery Channel One Way Out.

miketobias: @twitterstranger I love that we see a process. It’s not just one big trick; he tries to explain how he’s going to do it. Plus he can fail…adds suspense.

The conversation might stop there. That’s okay because Twitter is very easy going. You don’t have to follow twitterstranger, and they don’t have to follow you. The Twitter experience is akin to this situation: Two strangers see something in a pubic place, one makes a comment to the other about the event. You don’t plan on being bestfriends, but that’s no reason to stay silent with the stranger.

2. Treat your Twitter as a professional tool. If you’re going to put yourself out in the public world, you might as well look professional. That means no tweets about how drunk you got last night; Save that for your Facebook profile (with privacy settings.)

Twirgin Silly Thinking: Can something like Twitter really be taken that serious…I mean… Tweet really isn’t the most serious word…

With any tumblelog or blog, Twitter is a collection of your thoughts and interactions. So future professionals might reference them as an indicator of who you are. Twitter became serious when serious people took interested in it. Companies, managers, politicians made Twitter something serious.

So if it’s so serious, you can promote your Twitter profile without feeling too silly. Put your username (@miketobias) in public places. If you make a serious comment on a CNN story, put @username there too. Put it on your business cards, on your blog, on your Facebook profile, on email signatures.

People won’t think about following you unless you give them a good reason. Associating your Twitter username with your actions is a good reason.

//OTHER REASONS TO USE TWITTER. So now that you understand the REAL Twitter a little better. It’s time for you to start exploring the other ways Twitter is powerful.

Election. Twitter and Google Maps interacted with each other during the election to provide people real-time insights into their polling area. That means, via #hashtags, you could visit a website to see what people were saying about your polling place. The project made sure that nearly every polling place was represented on the map.

Now, the election is over. But the technology still exists, and it can certainly be used for more efficient community organization. Events like SXSW can offer Twitter-ers a better experience as they go about Austin, chasing their favorite bands.

Promotion. If you blog–and the stats show there’s a good chance you do–you can use Twitter to automatically promote your blog via TwitterFeed. The RSS will transferred to a tweet (with a link to your post.)

Plus you can promote your blog in tandem with #hashtags. If your blog is about theatre, use the #theatre hashtag to get your opinion out there for others to chime in.

Digest the News. The Internet provides you 3 ways to digest your news: visit a news site to browse, grab the RSS feed of that news site for your reader, and now Twitter. On Twitter you will see the headline and a link in each Tweet. If the headline is interesting, click the link. If not, move on. I don’t know of any instances where a news organization will respond to an @reply, but I think it’s a possibility in the near, near future.

Make money. If you want to sellout, there is a service that let’s you do it.  AdCause let’s you monetize your Twitter profile by advertising products and events via your tweets. So if you have tons of followers, you’ll make money. Maybe. It’s new. But it doesn’t hurt to try it!

//And all of this is just the beginning. People are very focused on Twitter as it develops quickly. Facebook tried to buy it, Twitter rightfully said no. It will be finding new ways to affect how we communicate.

Check it out. Don’t expect much to happen at first. But don’t be a wallflower. Find people, follow people, interact with people. Then you’ll get it.

Good luck, little twirgin.

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