What the crap is Twitter?

It occurred to me that I’ve been writing about Twitter, but not all you would be familiar with it. If you know what Twitter is, feel free to skip this post. If it’s new to you, then keep on reading.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a micro-blogging site. Users can sign up for free and then send text-based messages, called Tweets. Tweets can be no longer than 140 characters (hence the micro part of micro-blogging.)

Following / Followers

Twitter allows you to “follow” others. When you follow another twitter user, you see their tweets in your twitter stream (the main page of your twitter account). Likewise, you have followers, which are the people following you and they see what you tweet.

@replies

People can talk to and interact with one another on Twitter by using @replies. By typing an @ symbol followed immediately by the user’s name (ie: @AdventureSome ) the tweet will show up in the mentioned user’s @reply stream. This allows conversations to take place as people talk back and forth, as well as allowing one to know when they’re being talked about.

Direct Messages

A direct message is Twitter’s version of an email. The private (still 140 character) message is visible only by the person you send it to. Unfortunately, unlike email, it is not currently possible to forward the message, and if you reply the person must remember the original message so they know what you are replying to.

Lists

Because it is possible to follow thousands of people, there has to be some way to manage that amount of information. You can add users to lists and narrow them down this way. You can create as many lists as you like to organize the people you follow as you prefer (though you might want to be aware that users can see what lists they are on) and then view only the lists that you want to really keep up with.

What’s it good for?

This is one of the great debates that take place concerning all social media venues. The greatest potential it holds is to build relationships. Isn’t this just another form of networking? Yes, it is, but you really have to build a relationship, not just know someone. Twitter allows people to connect who would never meet otherwise (think A-list graphic designer talking to a graphic design student).

This is why I’m interested in keeping my Twitter account. I want to reach out and connect with others who share my interests and passions. The majority of the people I will talk to won’t be anywhere near me, geographically, but Twitter will allow me to connect with them anyway. Hopefully I will network, but the real goal is to make new friends.

It’s easy to spend a lot of time on Twitter, but with a little forethought, one can easily be productive in only a few minutes a day.

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