Getting Started With Twitter

Posted on Jan 11, 2009 in Social Media
This post is the first one of my Twitter Dummy Guide here on DuoBlogger. This post is dedicated to anyone that just wants to start with Twitter, or already does but doesn’t know how to go on from there.

twitter_start

Getting StartedStart by going to Twitter.com and click the Get Started button like the one from above. From here on it’s pretty simple, like you fill in every other account on the web. Once that is done click I Accept and the Create Account button. Next, Twitter will give you a chance to see if some of your friends are on Twitter by checking your online address book. However, your contacts will have to be in one of the supported services: GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, or MSN. This wasn’t that helpful to me initially, since I only chat (seriously) with about 3-5 people on my list, and they aren’t that much interested in Twitter apart from Hendrik.  I did NOT invite my friends to Twitter, but you may decide to do so. I just don’t like to get these kinds of invites, so I would rather not send them either.Ok, next step: Personalise your Settings. Do this by clicking on Setting tab in the upper right corner, then go ahead and fill in some information about yourself, your own picture etc. Make sure your Time Zone is set correctly by the way. Follow some family or friends. If you haven’t done so already, add your family and friends by clicking in the “Search” field at the top of your home page. You can either type in a name or a location. When you do, you will get a list of all the Twitterers who match your search criteria. You can begin “following” them by simply clicking on the Follow button. If you want to also follow them on your cell phone, then you can turn the “Device Updates” to “on”. I will be getting an iPhone very soon, so I will be able to give more information on this later on. Regardless, you will be able to see everyone you follow on your Twitter home pageBasic CommandsLearn the basic commands. Think of Twitter as a room full of people, all sitting in a circle. It’s a conversation. When you update your status, you are speaking to the whole group. Everyone can hear what you have to say. Reply. If you want to direct your comments to one specific person in the circle, but loud enough that everyone else can hear, you use the “Reply” function. You address the person by using their Twitter user name preceded by the “@” symbol. For example: 
@Hendricius How many energy drinks are still left since your visit in The Netherlands?
Everyone who is following me will see the message, but I am specifically directing it to Hendricius. You can also use the Reply function to refer to someone by name. For example: 
I’m headed to McDonalds with @Spencer and @TinTin. I am looking forward to trying the new burger.
The thing about replies is that they are “clickable links”. If someone who is following me, clicks on one of the names, they will automatically go to that person’s Twitter page. This will give them the opportunity to follow that person, too. Direct Messages. Continuing with the metaphor of a conversation with a room full of people, you can also use the “direct message” function. This is like whispering in one person’s ear. They can hear you, but no one else can. You are directing the message to them and only them. For example: 
d Spencer Can you bring my 901 notebook down to the Burgerking?
Or: 
d TinTin It looks like I need to leave soon. Bummer.
Retweet. This is basically a copy + paste action what the person you are retweeting said before. You can edit the text/add some of your own and then tweet it to your followers. This is a good way of spreading the word among the people.
RT @Hendricius How we merged our 2 blogs together - http://bit.ly/jmnF
Start TwitteringSo now you are all setup. It’s time to start Twittering. You can do this from your Twitter home page or from your cell phone.The main thing you need to know is that the message can not be longer than 140 characters. If you use the Web page, the entry field will automatically count your characters. After a while, you’ll instinctively know how long this is. I rarely go over the limit. But if you do, it’s no big deal. Your message will just be truncated. How often should you Twitter? That’s the 30-character question. Personally, I think 30-50 should be some sort of limit. Obviously, there’s a balance here. Some of the people I follow, Twitter way, way, way and way more than that. tweetThe real issue is whether or not you are adding something of value. The time you invest in Twitter, must return in some matter back to yourself (ROI = Return On Investment, commonly used in Business). Be it traffic to your site, or more friends to chat with. If noone listens… why bother?No one probably wants to hear the blow-by-blow of your life. However, some color commentary is good. However, this is definitely art not science, so there are no hard, fast rules. But you should consider every Twitter update as a impression of your character. You are developing a reputation with your online friends, so make sure you are adding something to the conversation. This is really no different than a face-to-face conversation. You want to say something that is interesting, helpful, or just plain entertaining. I don’t think you should over-think it, but I don’t think you should just text the first thing that pops in your mind. Be careful. You definitely need to be cautious. It’s probably not a good idea to say something like, “I’m headed to the west coast for a week. My poor, beautiful wife is going to be home all alone.” Bad idea. For obvious reasons. Do not get to private.Consider third-party apps. An entire eco-system has sprung up around Twitter. Here are some of my favorite applications: 
  • Twitteriffic. This is an desktop client for monitoring and updating your Twitter account. It’s the one I personally use. It’s free if you don’t mind the occasional ad. If you pay $14.95, it’s ad free. It’s your choice.
  • Tweetdeck / Twhirl . These are similar to Twitteriffic. However, they are completely free. Some people like these better, because you can search for your niche keywords, and then follow those persons of your own niche. 
  • TwitterBerry. For Blackberry Mobile users, there is a App available to them.
  • There is a list here on Twitter which compiles many Apps for Twitter.
Twitter is one of those apps that is best learned by using it. The most important thing you can do is get started. You really can’t make that many mistakes. Just remember to have fun and enjoy the people you meet online.Some Persons to note on Twitter@BarackObama@BritneySpearsAnd many more famous persons ofcourse, like us :)!
Follow us on Twitter: @Duoblogger  (Mark)  and  @Hendricius  (Hendrik)
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