Everyone knows what Twitter is but when it comes to using it, a lot of people are just plain lost. Which makes sense when you think about it because there is a ton of jargon that is used in the Twitterverse.
Twitterverse: The cyberspace area of Twitter. This naturally extends beyond Twitter.com to anywhere you can Twitter, which includes cell phones.
First things first: The basics.
- Twitter is a micro-blog. Just as the name sounds, mirco-blogging is basically the same as regular blogging but with smaller content such as one liners, quotes, pictures and links.
- A tweet, or essentially a post on Twitter, is limited to 140 characters.*
- Followers are users that you "follow" to see the content they tweet and interact with them. You get to pick who you follow and this can be anyone from friends and family to news sources to celebrities. Just because you follow someone, does not necessarily mean they will follow you back. If they do not follow you back, they will not see your tweets in their Twitter stream, or the real time stream of tweets from followers.
- Mentions are when someone talks to you or is essentially "mentioning" you in their tweet. For example, if I wanted to show my roommate Johanna a link to an apartment that I think we should check out, I could mention her by using the "@" symbol and her handle:
- @Jburmester1 I love this apartment on Wellington; right off the Red Line & near that amazing sushi place: http://bit.ly/dOV2nX
One thing about mentioning: If you mention someone, it will show up in your "@Mentions" tab. Your followers can see when you mention someone in their Twitter stream ONLY if you are already friends with the person. So if you were not following @jburmester1 on Twitter but you were following me, the tweet above you not appear in your Twitter stream.
- Direct Messages are sent like private tweets. It is essentially messaging on Facebook but limited to 140 characters. Also, you cannot direct message someone unless they are following you. To direct message someone, you place a "D" in front of the tweet you are sending.
- D @jburmester1 Let's go party at Northwestern tomorrow night. Screw classes.
No one will see!
Okay. There is a lot more to explain like retweeting, lists, and more. It is way too complicated for one post. So I will leave you with directions to start exploring the Twitterverse! Sign up for Twitter and get tweeting!
Next step: Figuring out our Twitter handle. This is essentially your "name" and what everyone will refer to you as. Choosing a Twitter handle can be tricky especially if you want some formation of your actual name. For example, I originally wanted @Lsnyder to be my Twitter handle but it was already taken. The only name that was not taken that I actually liked was @lttsnyder. A few general rules on picking a handle:
- Keep it short. It is easier to mention someone with 6-8 characters then a handle like @laurentatesnyder. Remember, you only get 140 characters to get your message across!
- Stay away from numbers. Unless they are really defining to you, like a basketball jersey, numbers are generally not used because they don't convey a personal feeling. People don't have numbers in their names.
Start Tweet tweet tweeting! Got questions? Ask away.
*Some exceptions apply, please wait for Part Two for details.