About six weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and join the Twitter world. Twitter is the fastest growing social network. I was totally clueless at first and as I've become a Twitter fan I've realized that most people have no idea what Twitter is. Over the next few posts I hope to give you a brief introduction and enough of the basics so you can navigate the Twitter world.
What Is Twitter?
Twitter is a way to share brief thoughts and updates on what you're doing. Each entry must be 140 characters or less. If you're familiar with Facebook then they're very similiar to Status Updates. Here is a screen shot from my Twitter feed and some recent updates I made: (click to see a large version of the image)
Why should I use it?
If you like social networking like Facebook or MySpace then you will like Twitter. Twitter is a way to keep up with those people that you have interest in (family, friends, those in your field of study or work, celebrities, etc.). I would say that Twitter is a great networking tool, not just social networking! Not only do you get updates on what people are doing, but people use Twitter to share the following:
- Links to websites/blogs/people that interest them
- Brand or market your business, organization, website, services, etc.
- Answers to questions you may have (for example, the other day I asked a programming question to my followers and received several replies in a matter of minutes)
- News on events in your follower's lives and around the world (in the recent plane crash in the Hudson River, some of the very first communication and updates came through Twitter - way before the regular media was on board)
- Good deals (several times have had people link to sales like a book or CD on Amazon)
- Updates on organizations that interest you (Life Church has started using Twitter to provide real time updates on events and what's going on in our community)
Twitter also has the ability for you to send messages back and forth to a particular individual. These can either be public so others can read them or private so no one else can see them (we'll talk more about these tomorrow.)
How Do I Sign Up?
It's quick and easy. Go to www.twitter.com and select a username and password. Next you will want to click on the "Settings" menu along the top of your webpage and edit your personal information. I highly recommend you upload a picture of yourself as well.
Next you will click on the "Find People" menu along the top and it gives you several ways to find others on Twitter. For example you could type my twitter username @scotthimes in and start following me. The best way to find most of your friends and family is to select "Find on other networks" and enter your email username and password in. Twitter will then search your email account for email addresses of people also on Twitter, show them to you and give you the option to start following them.
Once you start following people you will quickly get people following you called Followers. (you can see a few of the people I am following on the right side of the above screen shot) You can also see who the people you Follow are following and add them to your Twitter network. Very quickly you can be following a large group of people.
Tomorrow we'll talk more about how to user Twitter and some Twitter etiquette.