Twitter is a multiplatform social chatroom that allows you to converse with people around the world from anywhere in near to real time. It is knowing a rapid growth and so here are a few guidelines to getting started.
If you thought 160 characters for SMS were limited then this limit will be even more of a challenge. That’s nothing to worry about yet, for now all you need to do is create an account and tell us what you’re doing. Don’t make it to personal.
You can’t tell us everything about you in 140 characters so please don’t try, there’s no point. Instead tell us about something you’re enjoying right now. If it’s a nice sunny tell us something you like doing. A walk is enough. In a few hours time come back and tell us something else you’ve been doing. If you met someone interesting tell us broadly why you enjoyed meeting this person. This will help us establish whether we’re interested in following someone with your character traits. Don’t worry though, you won’t give that much away anyway.
Who to follow
Do you know any bloggers or personalities that you enjoy reading about? If so then add them but not too many. It’s fun to know what they’re doing but you won’t get much of a conversation out of them.
Take a look at the timeline. Who is talking now. Who is having fun, who is doing something that you find interesting? If you find three or four people that you think may be interesting click on their name and look at their twitter timeline. Are there a lot of @ messages or a lot of links. If there are a lot of @ messages then this may be a good sign. It may mean this person is open for conversation with someone like you.
If all they do is link to content then I would think twice about following them. There’s a good chance they are not passionate twitter users. They are simply feeding links without paying much attention to what is being said. For that you might as well use an rss aggregator and get their information that way.
Are any of your friends adopting technology that you enjoy. See whether you can get them to join twitter with you. If you exchange messages with real life friends there are two benefits. The first is that you may be able to trust them. The second reason is that you can plan events with them, see what they’re doing without having to call them to find out.
Another effect is that if groups other than just your friends do this there’s a chance several communities can emerge, and occasionly get together for meetups.
Of course this means that you can plan on meeting certain people during events. If you know you’re going to a conference then see whether there’s a twitter stream, see if you can find out who’s answering to the stream. You may find some more interesting people.
Applications to use
There are three methods I would recommend using for accessing information on twitter. These are the web interface for when you’re on any computer other than your own, simply because it’s a fast and efficient way of getting to see what’s happening. When you’re not following that many people it also means you can watch the public view, scouting for new friends.The drawback is that this takes a lot of time. That’s where certain desktop apps come into play.
One of those I recommend is Twhirl, and it’s not just because I’m a seesmic user whose met Loic several times by now. It’s because it fits in well when you’ve got a laptop. You can go about all your work whilst twhirl checks every three minutes whether there are new messages. It only tells you when there’s a new @reply. There are two benefits to this.
The first of these benefits is that your mind is at ease, you’re not worrying about missing who wants to reach you because the software will fetch that automatically. The second reason is that you can quickly skim through the conversations that are taking place in real time. It’s not per keyword but don’t worry about this.
Some people like to use tweetdeck but I do not recommend this solution. When you’re new to twitter you may only be following three or four people who are active at a time. As a result it’s very easy for you to keep track of conversations, even if six hours have elapsed. For more frequent users though they’ll get confused. Confused people are lazy. They won’t bother asking you what you were refering to. They will simply not answer.
At first you’ll tell me that doesn’t matter, that you don’t care about not getting answers. Don’t worry though, after a while, and through personal connections being formed you will be dissapointed when friends don’t answer. Trust me, a lot of people feel that.
Dabr.co.uk is my favourite mobile application and it works on all 3g phones. it’s a quick and easy way to keep up with all conversations and replies. I’ve already sent thousands of messages with it, still happy 🙂
People’s tweeting styles change with time, and so do your expectations on what to get out of twitter. As a result you may be following twenty people who are local to you. When you move though your associations with them decay and after a while it may do you some good to unfollow them on twitter. you’ve still got facebook and their blog to keep up to date. Find new people that are active.
As I said earlier if you see that some people are too self promotional then unfollow them, especially when they don’t respond to your replies. It makes a lot of noise on twitter if we have three hundred replies sent without conversations actually taking place. It’s frustrating for those that follow you.
On twitter automation is your enemy, never let anything be automatic. Remember that there are real people giving their time and attention to read your stream. If all you do is send links then they will lose their desire to interact with you. This includes Last.fm lists, google likes and dislikes and more. If you write a blog post a day then rather than send a link tell people you’ve just written a post because you were inspired by that topic. If they’re active at the same time as you they go to your profile and find the link. If they’ve been following you for a few months they type three letters and your blog will appear quickly.
Twitter is a conversational tool. The more time you put into being conversational with fellow users the more friendships you will establish. With these friendships you may gain from professional and personal relationships. When you trave you may find people to meet without being in solitude. You’re free to do what you want with twitter but the more of your personality you put forward the more you should gain.