Posted by: peterhact | April 7, 2010

Twitter for Newbies

I have mentioned twitter a fair bit – I have several contacts that I interact with on twitter and I am continually learning about new technology, events and information that is of interest to me.

There are some new people coming into the twitter environment – they don’t seem to get it at first, but as I didn’t have any formal training in twitter, and wished that someone had shown me the ropes even a little bit, I thought I would throw down some basic ground rules for new twitter users.

1. The aim of the game is to follow other Twitter users, so as to grow your own followers. If you are following several people and contributing to their comments and discussions, and the info you are sharing is relevant, people will follow you right back.

2. You only have 140 characters to get your point across, so make it short and sharp if you can.

3. Direct messages are between you and a follower. you cannot direct message the person you want to contact directly, if they aren’t following you, and you aren’t following them.

4. Don’t set your tweets to private, especially if you are new – how can anyone get an idea of who you are and what you do if they can’t read what you tweet?

5. Twitter is what you make of it. If you don’t use it often, or don’t tweet, nobody follows you and it is a waste of time. You use twitter like an instant messenger system, but many people can respond to your tweets, changing your perception on the answers or discussions. It isn’t one on one communication, it is one on many….

6. Follow Friday is your calling card to gain members that will follow you. Other twitter users will put you up for a follow Friday – this is a big deal, follow Friday is basically someone introducing you to the twitter community. If you have a friend who is on twitter, and they are new, as your relationships grow in twitter, you may find that you put them up on a follow Friday…

7. swearing and abuse, bullying of another member will either get dealt with by twitter, or more likely, by the community. blacklisting does happen and it is social media death. Play nice, and people will help you in your journey to a social media guru status…

8. thanks to @Subwaybelconnen – re your profile. Fill it in. make sure there is info on you and what you do – people won’t follow you if it is just your name…

9. Hashtags (#) are designed to be used to highlight a trending topic, one that has the potential to go viral on the “Twitterverse”. Hashtags are also used to identify a specific topic, event or collaborative discussion.  for example, there is a conference that you are going to, but don’t know whether other people are going to it as well, the conference can be highlighted on twitter with a hashtag, and you can see exactly who else will be going via a search of the hashtag. examples may include #cebit, #auteched, #AIS – remember, whatever you write on twitter is read in some way by the whole community. You can attract some people that you want to see there, but you may also identify that you yourself are going.

10. No-One cares what you had for breakfast. Really, people, don’t tweet that you had a piece of toast with marmalade, most of us don’t care. If you baked the bread, made the marmalade, and churned the butter, there may be someone on twitter who is interested. Most people will ignore breakfast comments unless they have a relevance.

Twitter is a very useful tool. I can find out about new events, product launches, topics of interest to me, and I can promote jobs, ideas and even links to this blog. it ties all of the interactions together, and you can sometimes find that you are tweeting a reply to the Opposition leader, the prime minister’s partner, the prime minister or a senator like Sen Kate Lundy, or her advisor Pia Waugh, who are both committed to making the open source / open govt community accessible to all.

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