Often when I tell someone what I do for a living they respond by saying, "Twitter is weird," or asking, "What's the point?"
When I first logged in back in 2009, I, too, thought Twitter was kind of weird. I used to compare it to stream of conscience writing. At first glance it seemed like a bunch of random thoughts in one spot without a central theme. I mean, why should I care that @FunnyLady75 ate brunch at that new restaurant in Pleasant Ridge on Sunday and that it was "soooo good?"
Then, as it evolved, and I evolved, diving deeper into social media, I found that it's possibly one of the greatest tools developed in our time. I found that the central theme I couldn't see four years ago is actually quite simple.
That theme that links all of those seemingly random 140-character sentences together is information. Twitter is an avenue for information that wasn't available until its arrival. Without @FunnyLady75's tweet about eating brunch at that one place, I wouldn't have known it was worthwhile and I maybe wouldn't have ever visited that restaurant. Thanks to her tweet, I'm glad I did... Because she was right, it was "soooo good."
Creators of the network say, "It's like being delivered a newspaper whose headlines you'll always find interesting- you can discover news as it's happening, learn more about topics that are important to you, and get the inside scoop in real time." It's a customizable news feed.
So, this article is for the ones who claim to not be tweet-savvy. It's for the ones who maybe have a log-in or are thinking about signing up, but just don't know where to go from there.
First things first. If you haven't signed up and are interested, head over to Twitter.com to get started. They'll prompt you to fill out a little information and come up with a screen name, or as Twitter deems it, a "handle."
You'll then want to find and follow others. You can search your friend's names, news organizations, celebrities, and even connect it with your other social networks and see who else you know is tweeting.
You can then download the Twitter apps on all your devices and log in. Twitter is available on desktop, tablets, smartphones, e-readers, and more. One of the best parts about Twitter is that it's portable.
Often times I hear new users ask about what all the lingo means. You know, "tweet, retweet, follow, favorite, DM, Hashtag." What do they all mean? Visit this glossary for all the terms and their definitions, but here are a few pretty important ones:
Tweet: A message posted via Twitter containing 140 characters or fewer.
Retweet: The act of forwarding another user's Tweet to all of your followers.
Hashtag: The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It's created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
Here's a quick how-to guide to start tweeting by the folks at Twitter:
1. BUILD A VOICE: Retweet, reply, react
Use existing information (other people's Tweets) on Twitter to find your own voice and show others what you care about. Retweet messages you've found and love, or @reply with your reaction to a Tweet you find interesting. Tip: If you're a new user, others are more likely to find your messages if they are Retweets or @replies.
2. MENTION: Include others in your content
Once you're ready to begin authoring your own messages, consider mentioning other users by their Twitter username (preceded by the @ sign) in your Tweets. This can help you think of what to write, will draw more eyes to your message, and can even start a new conversation. Try posting a message mentioning a celebrity or person you admire - they often respond to fans. You'll see their response on your Mentions tab. Tip: Can't think of anything to write? You don't have to. The real magic lies in your reading of content on Twitter.
3. GET FANCY: Explore advanced features
As you become more engaged on Twitter, others will begin to find and follow you. Once you're familiar with Twitter basics, consider exploring the site's more advanced features: lists, direct messages, and favorites. Learn how to include images or videos in your Tweets, or consider connecting your Twitter account to your your blog, Facebook, or website. Tip: The best way to gain followers on Twitter is to regularly engage and contribute in a meaningful way.
If you have questions about Twitter or need advice, post it in a comment below. THV 11's Social Media Coordinator Jessica Johnson will be answering each post.