Twitter: why it’s cool and how to use it. (Pt 1)

What is Twitter? It’s stupid! Why do you use it? Are you by any chance stupid? These are a few of the question’s I’m faced with when I tell people that I use Twitter. My goal with this post is to hopefully educate and enlighten readers about the wonderful world of Twitter.

What is it? Twitter a microblogging service, it allows users to convey short amounts of information (called ‘tweets’), in no more than 140 characters; this makes it compatible with SMS messaging from cell phones.

Once you join start following people. I know it sounds stalkerish but one has to assume that people aren’t going to post something on the public web that they don’t want everybody on Earth to see, if not why post it. This is not always the case but it’s their problem, not yours. Twitter makes it very easy to find people; you can search by username, first name, last name, business or brand. In addition to my friends, I follow several people whose tweets I find particularly interesting. With famous folk (like KevinSpacey and Oprah to name two) people like to create fake accounts in their names and post stuff, recently Twitter introduced verified accounts so you can tell if your really following Oprah or 14 years old in Santa Monica. As you start to follow more and more people you will get a feel for what tweeting style you like, some people tweet fifteen or twenty times a day others only once or twice a day. Some people’s tweets are more interesting than others, which brings me to my next point…

Don’t tweet useless junk!

One of the major stigmas surrounding Twitter is that it’s all really useless junk, people tweet stuff like “Eating breakfast”, “Going for a jog”, “Going to the bathroom”, “Washing my hands” and “Gross I touched my phone before washing my hands!”. True, all these tweets are under 140 characters, however, that does not mean they should be posted. A quick and easy way to become a Twitter outcast is to post lots of useless jargon nobody reads or cares about. Twitter should be used to share stuff that you find funny, cool, interesting or enlightening. When I stumble across a neat blog or a funny video on Youtube that not too many people have seen, I tweet it. If I see something cool or something funny happens to me I tweet it. I don’t tweet boring junk that everybody already knows I do (like eating), and neither should you.

So, Twitter is a fun and quick way to share links, quick stories, and see what famous people are doing. However, in my opinion, the real genius of Twitter comes from two features, “Trending Topics” and “Search”. Trending Topics takes all recent tweets and arranges them looking for patterns; so let’s say that the Yankees just won the World Series, a lot of people would be tweeting “Yankees” and “World Series” for instance. If enough people posted tweets with the words “Yankees” and “World Series” in them, they would both appear on the “Trending Topics” list. “Trending Topics” is a way to see what’s going on in the world as it happens. “Search” is also useful, but I don’t think you need that explained.

Click here to jump to part 2.

Image: Pasquale D’Silva courtesy of Function

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