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January 14, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Getting started on Twitter, a guide to the guides

To the untrained eye, Twitter can seem like an impenetrable world of social media nonsense.  But  when friends and colleagues are evangelising about it,  and your news outlets are using it on a daily basis, you might start to wonder whether you should get on board.  If you decide to take the leap – it’s great, honestly –  there’s nothing more valuable than experimenting with it on your own. Having said that, there’s a great selection of guides on the Web to help you as you turn your tweetering first steps into microblogging strides.  Here are some of the best.

  • Mashable has an excellent guide to Twitter that gives you all the practical information you need – from starting an account, finding people you want to follow, posting your own tweets, re-tweeting other people’s tweets and attracting followers (still with us?).
  • Start to follow people selectively, gradually building up your feed as you start to recognise what is useful and interesting and what isn’t. Cultivate the useful contacts by looking at who they follow and interact with, and don’t be afraid to cull your list if you find you’re being bombarded with information about what people are eating for dinner or how hung over they are. Remember, the unfollow button is your key to quality control. As you follow more and more useful people you might want to start sorting them into lists.  Creative Boom has a list of recommended twitter management tools which will help you to organise your twitter feed to best effect.
  • As well as offering some good advice on what your Twitter feed might look like, the Web Designer Depot has an excellent glossary of terms for Twitter.  Some are a bit silly, but you don’t have to use them!   Examples include substituting ‘tweet up’ for ‘meet up’ and tweople for people – or, if you’re trying to be ‘down’, peeps become tweeps!   The Oatmeal has an astute explanation of the puzzling but important phenomenon that is #followfriday.
  • A friend once described joining Twitter as being like walking into a party where everyone else already has a drink and is chatting away.  It can be intimidating, but – as at a party – it’s easy to join conversations that interest you.  Creative Boom has a guide to tweetchat that will help you.  Don’t forget your manners, though.  Crediting sources provided by other tweeters – perhaps via a re-tweet or with a hat tip (HT) – will gain you followers; swearing will get you un-followed by other discerning users.  Remember that unless you protect your tweets (not recommended if you want to build a genuinely ‘social’ network) your Twitter feed is public – and be aware that you can never truly delete a tweet!
  • Getting to grips with the basic mechanisms and principles behind Twitter is easy, but ‘getting’it – that is, understanding its value and seeing why some people seem so obsessed with it – is somewhat harder.   Roba Al-Assi  has an amusing and informative take on the process in the four stages of “getting” Twitter. The writers of this blog are, needless to say, unapologetic stage 4 addicts.  Twittter can be daunting to beginners, but the benefits of using it far outweigh the awkwardness of getting started, so we urge you to stick with it!

Post by Sophie Paterson and Gill Allard

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One Comment

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  1. sophfull / Jan 19 2011 4:01 pm

    http://www.themurr.com/2010/12/05/what-did-you-get-involved-with-social-media/ an intersting blog post on why people get involved with social media.

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