What is Twitter?
Let’s first look at Twitter’s home page for a definition:
Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting. Simply find the accounts you find most compelling and follow the conversations.
Twitter has been around since 2006 and has grown rapidly worldwide with over 140 million active users according to Wikipedia.
Twitter is a microblogging tool made up of Tweets. Tweets are spurts of information no longer than 140 characters including spacing and punctuation.
Don’t be concerned about the 140-character limit in Twitter. You can share photos and videos and link to longer articles. View this short video to get an overview of Twitter .
Just like you don’t have to create a web page to benefit from the Internet, you can find value in Twitter without ever sending a Tweet. But why miss out on the fun?
Tweeting is easy.
You will want to update your Tweets several times throughout the day, but it takes very little time. You can Tweet from your computer, ipad, or smart phone.
Why should Community College students Tweet?
Six Reasons to Consider:
- Twitter makes it possible for community college students to connect instantly with family members and friends. It is a fun way to let your family members know what you are doing and to keep up with them. You can get these updates via your cell phone.
- Twitter is a convenient method for community college students to stay engaged with their academics and with other students.
- Twitter is a great way to make new friends who share your same interests. Twitter provides community college students with the opportunity to follow interesting people that they would not have met otherwise.
- Community college students should learn to use Twitter to prepare them for their future careers. Twitter allows businesses, both large and small, the ability to engage with customers. Many employers are looking for people who can help them with social media tasks.
- Twitter makes it possible for community college students to connect with people around the world. Twitter is in almost every country around the world and is available in more than 20 languages.
- Twitter is a great tool to rally people around a cause.
Learn more about Twitter here.
While I love Twitter and think you need to get started right away, there are definitely some precautions you should take into consideration.
Precautions to Consider:
- Just like on Facebook and other forms of social media, it is probably not a good idea to say you and your family are leaving for Gulf Shores for the week.
- The world is full of lunatics and many of them are on social media such as Twitter. So use common sense. Do not post too much private information.
- Don’t post anything you would not want others to read on a billboard unless it is a direct message. And even then be careful because others could retweet your message that you considered to be private.
How Do I Get Started?
Go to Twitter and open your free account.
Follow these tips:
If possible, use your real name for your username. This is how you will be known on Twitter.
Michael Hyatt recommends using initial caps and in-word caps so that your username will be more readable and memorable. For example, CarolHBates not carolhbates.
Once you click Create My Account, you’re ready. Twitter will offer some suggestions for popular people to follow. You may want to skip this step for now. Twitter will also give you the opportunity to search your contacts for people who are already on Twitter. This will not be helpful to you unless you use one of the supported services such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL.
Tweak your Settings. From the Home Page on the right hand side choose Settings.
Choose the correct Time Zone.
If you choose “Protect My Tweets” your tweets will only be viewed by those you approve. Your tweets will not be seen publicly. I suggest that you do not choose this option because you will limit your influence and limit the value you receive from Twitter.
Upload a Profile picture (Profile Tab). We will discuss more about your Profile picture later. For now, include the best shot you have of yourself. You do not want to be an “egg head” which is the default picture assigned to those with no picture. Note: Your picture must be 750k or less.
Make sure to complete the Profile description. We will give more thought to your Profile later. For now, complete your description in 160 characters or less.
Connect your Twitter account to your website or blog if you have one. You can also connect to your Facebook account. This will post all your Tweets to your Facebook account, but is generally not recommended. You can always go back and change later.
When you are finished, be sure to save.
Choose the Settings link.
Click on the Mobile tab. Enter your phone number and click on the Start button.
From you cell phone, you can Tweet using SMS (text messages). I had been on Twitter for some time before I learned to use this feature. Text message the code Twitter gives you to 40404. You will receive a confirmation notice from Twitter that your device is registered.
If you have an iphone, you can set up your Twitter in the Preferences. This gives you the ability to Tweet from within many iphone applications.
Send Twitter mobile updates using Text message. (Note: I prefer to download the Twitter APP instead of using text messages).
Go to your text message App and use the 404-04 (in the United States. In other countries check http://twitter.com for the number. 2) Type in the commands just like you were sending a text message.
You will enjoy Twitter much more if you are receiving Tweets on your phone. You can receive updates from all those you are following or a select few. A summary of the commands I use most are below.
ON: turns ALL your authorized Twitter updates and notification on.
ON [username]: turns on notifications for a specific person on your phone. For example, ON CarolHBates will set your phone up to receive notifications from me. Good idea, right!
@[username} + message: shows your Tweet as a reply directed to a specific person and causes your Tweet to save in their mention tab so they are more likely to see your message. But remember, everyone following you will also be able to read the message!
D [username] + message: sends that person a Direct Message that goes only to their device and saves in their web archive. You can also use M [username] to send a private message. For example, d CarolHBates I will not be in class this Monday. Emergency home situation. M CarolHBates I will not be in class this Monday. Emergency home situation will have the same results.
Off: turns all phone notifications off. This is only turning off you phone notifications. You will still be able to see this person’s tweets on the web site if you are still following her.
For a full list of commands and fun things to do with Twitter from your phone go here: https://support.twitter.com/groups/34-apps-sms-and-mobile/topics/153-twitter-via-sms/articles/14020-twitter-for-sms-basic-features#.
CAUTION: Twitter does not charge for this service, but make sure that your phone carrier does not charge or that you have an unlimited text messaging plan. You can run up a huge bill if you are not on an unlimited text messaging plan.
Follow people who share your interests. Click on the “Search” field at the top of the Home Page of http://twitter.com. You can type in a username or the first and last name the person. If necessary, you can create a more advanced search by clicking on “Refine Results.” You begin following by clicking on the follow button. Note: you may choose to follow only your friends and family on your cell phone.
The way I learned more about interesting people to follow was to look at who other people are following.
You will see everyone you follow from your Twitter Home page, and you will see the people who are following you. Click on the name of a person you are following and you will be able to see who they are following.
Always keep in mind that what you post can be read by anyone following you unless you send a direct message.
Replies – If you want to direct your message to a particular person, choose reply. But remember, while you may be directing this message to a particular person, everyone following you can read the message.
You can also direct a message to a particular person by using the @ symbol before their username. For example, if you want to be sure that I read your message, you would use @CarolHBates in your Tweet. But remember, everyone following me and everyone following you can see this comment.
You can also use the Reply function to mention a person. For example, I am attending a workshop with @katvhall and @noracoxwell. This makes these links “clickable.” So if you click on the links, you will be directed to that person’s Twitter page.
Direct Messages – This is the function you use when you only want the person to read your message. No one else will be able to see the Tweet. For example, d katvhall it looks like I will not be able to be at work tomorrow. I am not feeling well.
Hash Tags (#) – Use the # to mark key words in your Tweet. If you click on a hash tag, you will see all the other Tweets associated with that hash tag. For example, at our recent workshop, we announced the hashtag to use #jdccsmm. This enabled everyone attending the workshop to follow what others were saying about the workshop. This idea of tweeting using a hash tag during a conference or workshop is called “back channeling.” We will discuss more about “back channeling” later.
You can follow a topic with the hash tag without following the person.
For example, an instructor tweeted during the workshop #jdccsmm do we rethink our electronic device policy to better use social media???
Another instructor tweeted, #jdccsmm how do I get more followers on Twitter?
Follow – you can quickly add people to follow by using the Follow [username] command on your cell phone. For example, text 40404 Follow CarolHBates.
Many other fun commands can be found here: https://support.twitter.com/groups/34-apps-sms-and-mobile/topics/153-twitter-via-sms/articles/14020-twitter-for-sms-basic-features#
Consider Third Party Apps
HootSuite. This is the application that I use. You can manage your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter from one application. I love the face that you can organize people by groups such as family, friends, co-workers, Sunday School class, etc. You can use HootSuite on your ipad, mobile device, or desktop computer.
Buffer – I use this app to schedule my Tweets. You can store tweets in your Buffer. You can decide how often and when you will post. You can also buffer your Facebook status updates.
That’s enough for now. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed.
Twitter is fun. You will best learn Twitter by using it. So let’s get started! Have fun!
You may also want to read:
The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter (Michael Hyatt)
Why Social Media Should be Taught in the Community College (carolhbates).