Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Twitter on Tutorial Tuesday

It's Tutorial Tuesday. And this week, it's Twitter.
What is Twitter?

Twitter is a free service where you can send messages to your "followers". Messages are a maximum or 140 characters long. So that's 140 letters, including spaces, punctuation, web addresses or whatever else you want to include. 

Essential vocab and basics
  • Followers = people who are subscribed, or who "follow" your tweets.
  • Tweets = the messages you send through Twitter are referred to as Tweets. 
  • Reply = messages intended for just one person, but which will be seen by everyone following you. Adding a @ symbol in front of someone's twitter name indicates your message is directed at them. Example below. 
  • @ can also be used to indicate who you are talking about. In the first of the hashtag examples below, as well as using a made up hashtag (explained below) I've also indicated who Sister Diane is. This means others can click on her name and see her tweets. 
  • Retweet = a message someone else sent that you want to forward to your followers. Designated by the letters RT at the beginning of the message. It is also normal to credit the original sender by putting @[sender's name] in the message. 
  • Hashtags = ways of following a topic rather than a person. People tag their own tweets with words which sometimes they've made up (first example below) and which more often are related to an event or topical subject (second example below is for the IKnit Weekender).
Reading Tweets

Option 1: You don't have to sign up to twitter to read people's tweets. This is worth remembering as it highlights that NOTHING on the internet is private. To read tweets without registering just go to twitter.com and type in the name of the person or the thing you are interested in. In this example I've typed in my twitter name (littlelixie) and hit search. 
I can now go further. I can click on any of the tweets from littlelixie or that are addressed to me (using the @littlelixie tag) and that takes me to my twitter homepage. Because I have not logged in the computer does not know I am looking at my own page, and is encouraging me to "follow" littlelixie. 
You could bookmark each person you wanted to "follow" but it would be a bit tedious switching between pages to keep up to date. That is why I could recommend Option 2....

Option 2: Register with Twitter and "follow" people as this then groups all their tweets together each time you log on. If you are worried about online security just use a different name to your real one. Simply click on 'sign up' at twitter.com and in 30 seconds you can have your own account. 

Navigating a Twitter Page

Once you have logged in, this is roughly what you will see. 
The five labelled sections are...
  1. This is where you type your tweet. It can include web addresses, plain text, numbers, hashtags (#), @ symbols etc. Just remember that what you type will probably be seen by others unless you have altered your privacy settings (see below for more).
  2. This indicates how many characters you have left. If it goes into negative numbers then you will have problems sending that tweet. 
  3. This is where your own tweets show up once sent, plus the tweets of anyone you are following. 
  4. This is your little dashboard showing the tweets you have sent, who are you following, who is following you and how many 'lists' your tweets appear in. I am not going into lists here as that is a bit more advanced but easy to understand once you are used to twitter itself. 
  5. This is where you can search for a topic (i.e. knitting) a hashtag trending topic (such as #iknit) or a person (such as Bill Bailey). You can also save searches. 
How to Follow People

Find someone you want to follow and go to their twitter page (use the search tool described above).
Underneath their twitter name is a button that says 'follow'. Click on that while logged in and you'll get all their future tweets. 

Things to Remember

1. Your tweets are public unless you change your privacy settings. If you want to do this log in and click on 'settings'. At the bottom of the screen is a 'protect my tweets' tickbox. This means only people who you have approved as followers will see them. This is good if you want privacy, but bad if you want followers as it makes it impossible for people to casually come across you. 
2. You will probably get followed by some strangers. But not too many and you can block people from following you if they are being annoying. 
3. People may not be who they seem to be. You can sign up with any name on Twitter and there is no identity check. Someone may be tweeting as Lady Gaga and it turns out to be your cousin Eric. 
4. You can get lots of free and paid for apps for 3G phones that mean you can tweet from your phone. They vary in what they offer a reliability so look at reviews in the app store before you download anything. 
5. Never ever ever ever share anything you would not mind everyone knowing. For example, no email addresses or phone numbers unless you immediately want to get spammed to Herne and back. It's also easy to fall into the #tmi (too much information) trap as tweeting can feel like you're just texting your friends. 
6. Twitter.com recently announced that at any one time 3% of the servers were taken up with tweets about Justin Bieber (small teen canadian singer who teen girls can not get enough of). So don't bother tweeting about him because there's enough info out there already. 

Tweeters I would recommend
There are zillions of others - try Nickerjac, Woollywormhead, yarnharlot, or the name of just about any crafter or shop you can think of. 

If you found this blog post useful then tweet it to your mates!

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