Twitter was always one of those things that I got people to play with and they just got, or they realised that it didn’t fit in with their online life in the way that say Facebook status or Sina.com’s micro-blogging platform did. So I never thought I would be asked on a howto guide for Twitter, but I was the other day and that was the inspiration for this post.
Go to http://twitter.com
There is a button on the page asking you to sign up to the service. This takes you through to a page entitled ‘Join the Conversation’
Fill in the boxes, take particular care with the captcha: a picture of two words that you have to retype to prove that you are a real person and not a spam bot. If you find it hard to read there is a button the right hand side which will give you a new pair of words that will hopefully be more legible.
You will receive an email to your nominated email address. If it doesn’t arrive in a couple of minutes check your junk folder.
You don’t depend on twitter.com as your only way to tweet. If you have a cell phone with mobile browsing you can go to m.slandr.net and login or tweet from an application; I use Tweetie for the iPhone and on my home MacBook Pro. At work I use Beak on my MacBook.
You are now ready to tweet. The settings menu option at the top of the page allows you to customize the look and feel of your account.
So what can you do?
Follow: Unlike Facebook which requires both parties to be friends in order to be able to read their news. With Twitter that isn’t the case, which is the reason why organisations such as NGOs, news outlets and transportation systems use it to provide headline news and links to more detailed content. You can chose to make your updates public or invite only, so Twitter gives some privacy protection.
Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged KidsCurate: you can use Twitter to share information from other places for instance TweetFeed will convert an RSS feed from a corporate press room, blog or search alert into a updates on a Twitter account. If there are interesting links that other Twitter users are shared these posts can be passed on to your audience through a process called retweeting which quotes their tweets and attributes them as your source.Its really easy to retweet, both Twitter and many clients have a special icon that allows you to do this just by clicking on it.If you want to share an image you can share a link from a photo-sharing site like flickr or TwitPic and Yfrog.Engage: putting an ‘@’ in front of a fellow twitters user name in a message is a publicly available message aimed at them:
@r_c why are you such a loser?
Twitter also has a facility to direct message someone if both of you are following each other; this is similar to instant messaging or sending a text message on a phone in terms of privacy. If the communication is about a common subject such as a TV show or a conference then the post should contain a label marked by a hash or pound sign called a hashtag for example:
@r_c why are you such a loser? #faketwittermsg
Now the the whole world of twitter is open to you.
Posts in this series
This was the post that started it all: 29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know