If you are one of those people who thought that twitter was a site just for celebrities, you might want to re-structure your beliefs. Short, witty and precise statements are what the world is looking for. And the 140 character limit that twitter boasts of makes it just the right tool for people to express themselves. No crap, just the exact point. Here’s how to carve a niche in this big tangled network of 140 characters that is Twitter.
Because social media in itself is a great networking tool and an image building arena. Twitter’s 140 character limit equips you with the art of coming to the point, of writing and talking precisely. Also, people will take time out to actually read what you have to say because it isn’t too long to read. It will help you interact with people you know and also those you don’t, but share similar likes and dislikes with. Twitter also makes you aware of the news that’s making the rounds. Up-to-date with all the information and more, with 140 characters.
Firstly, you need to set up your account. Go to twitter and enter your name, email, and a password and then click sign up.
You will now be taken to a second screen where you can select a username. This is the name by which you will be known on Twitter. What name should you use? It can be your real name or something quirky or your ‘pet’ name. Eg: it could be something like @RohanShah or @RockstarRohan or @onionhead. Just about any name that sails your boat! Now click on the ‘create my account’ button. That’s it. You are now officially a member of the Twitter community. Congratulations!
3. The basics:
Now that you’re a part of the twitter family, you need to know the lingo.
Follow: If you’re on Twitter you probably get this one already, but let’s cover it for the sake of it. If you subscribe to someone’s updates, you follow them.
@reply: When you want to talk to someone on twitter or reply to their tweet, you use the @reply option. Your response will show up in that person’s @connect menu on Twitter or under the mentions tab.
DM: A direct message (DM) is sent between users, not shown publicly on the timeline. You can only DM another user if they follow you.
RT: A re-tweet (RT) is when you share something someone else wrote.
Hashtag: The hashtag is a way to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. For example, if you were tweeting about the Olympics 2012, you might use #Olympics as a hashtag.
Lists: Twitter allows you to add users to lists rather than following them directly. This is useful if you want to check in on a bunch of people periodically, but don’t want them on your timeline all the time.
4. Do’s and don’ts:
Write some great tweets. Things that you believe in, that you think about, that amuse you. And be original. Find people you like and follow them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be famous people, just ones that say things you can connect with. They might follow you back! You don’t have to re-tweet everything, but letting people know you’re there and that you like or dislike what they say is always good, so hit reply. Don’t worry if they don’t answer back – it’s not about how they interact with you, but how you interact with them. Hashtags are excellent for grouping comments together. Why is this important? It makes it easier to find items on similar themes; it also helps identify what are the most important issues on twitter (Trending topics).
5. Tech savvy:
An entire eco-system has sprung up around Twitter. Here are some of my favorite applications:
HootSuite: This is the application I use to manage Twitter on my desktop. It will even manage Facebook profiles and pages, LinkedIn, and several other social media services. It is great because it allows you to segment people by groups (or columns). I have groups for my family, close friends, colleagues, etc. It is available for both desktop systems and mobile devices.
Mobile Apps: Each mobile platform has an app dedicated to twitter. You can try Ubersocial for Blackberry, iTweets for Twitter and so on.
Social Oomph: I use this application to bulk-schedule a whole series of tweets. For example, I have identified my 90 most popular blog posts. I have written a tweet promoting each one. Via SocialOomph, I schedule one tweet per day at a specific time. I upload the text file to SocialOomph and forget about it. Everything is on auto-pilot. It will also post to Facebook.
6. Final word:
You need to be cautious about what you post. There are a lot of fake people and untruthful people around. Updating confidential information can be risky, so avoid posting it.
Lastly, happy tweeting!