The last few days, as I’ve told my friends about the #ECMChat, they’ve been incredibly supportive…as always…but the same thing has been mentioned SEVERAL times…
“Teach me how to tweet and I’ll totally come to the party!”
I guess, for me, I’ve been tweeting so long that I completely forgot not everyone does! In fact, if I were to look at the people I follow or who follow me…very few are actually “friends”…I mean, I have a lot of online friends and people I’ve met who have become friends…but actual folks I spend my time with on a regular basis, don’t seem to be on twitter!
So…I thought I’d give a little lesson on the ins and outs of this fabulous Twitterverse so you can 1. join the party and 2. meet some really cool people out there!
Twitter, when I first joined, was daunting. Weird. Didn’t make any sense. It had this foreign language when I tried to read a tweet that included @ and # symbols and looked completely ridiculous.
So I stopped using it.
Then, I picked it up again…gave it a little more time…found myself a few interesting people to follow and got into a bit of a groove with the conversations and understanding of how it all worked…and low and behold, I completely fell for it! Bought in. Got the t-shirt.
Here’s how it works.
1. Go to www.twitter.com and set up your account. You’ll be asked for your Name, Email and Password…and then twitter will direct you to a screen to pick your Twitter Name. Pick a name that suits you…like your ACTUAL NAME if that’s available…or something that identifies you. Don’t make it too long as, when tweeting, this becomes part of the 140 allowable characters that make up a tweet. So, if your name happens to be John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, I’d probably go with @JJJS, or @MyName2 or @PeopleShout.
Once you have a name, twitter will ask you who you’d like to follow and suggest you look up your friends through email…I skipped all of these steps when I set up my account. I just wanted to get to the screen where I could start doing things myself (plus I didn’t have any of the e-mail accounts that they could connect to.)
Once you finish walking through the initial steps and you have your name…you’re done. You’re on Twitter…You’re an EGG! Congratulations!
Get it…you’re an egg…twitter is a bird…you tweet. So many bird references!
2. Next step, customizing Twitter, ie, getting rid of that EGG. I’d recommend you not tweet until you change your picture as people tend to take you more seriously when your complete profile is available (otherwise it looks like a spam account.)
Click on the Edit Profile button to change your picture, add a cover photo and enter your profile information. If you can’t find the Edit Profile button, you’re just not on the right screen…click on your full name (under the egg) and it will bring you to the main page…where you’ll see the button.
OH…and one thing about pictures. Folks on twitter get used to them. BIG TIME. There are people who change their pictures all the time and I simply forget who they are. If you’re setting up for your business, you can use your company logo…that, or put a pic of yourself. The pic I used is a selfie of me in the car with a big old scarf…at the time I quite liked it…now I’m not so sure now. However, people really get to know your avatar so it’s a big deal if you change it later on.
There’s lots more customizing you can do, just click on your avatar on the main menu…and then choose the “setting” option.
The main menu also allows you to switch between your Home screen…where it will show your newsfeed of those that you’re following. There’s notifications…which will list all of the tweets that you’ve been referenced in. Messages…where you’ll find all of the DM’s or Direct Messages…these are private, and no one else can see them. There’s also #Discover…which shows hashtags that are currently trending and things Twitter tailors just for you! You’ll also find a search twitter option, your avatar that also has the drop down list of other customizable options, and a tweet button where you can compose a new tweet (though I typically do this from the home screen.)
3. Once you get comfortable with moving around on the different screens, I’d start following people. Friends, business associates and organizations you work with, celebrities you like, news stations, local traffic and weather. These are the people who will fill your newsfeed…it’s totally up to who you follow. However, don’t start following too many people right off the bat until you get a little comfortable with what your doing…otherwise it will all just look quite jumbled in your newsfeed (I think that’s the mistake I made starting out.)
4. Next step…Tweet! Say something in 140 characters or less. Introduce yourself. If you’d like to reference and individual or business, you use their @ symbol…if you’d like to reference a topic, use the # symbol.
So…your tweet could be something like…
Looking forward to joining @Mmmisformommy and @CurtainsareOpen at their #ECMChat twitter party on Wednesday night!
HEY LOOK AT ME I’m on twitter!
Which was my father’s first and only ever tweet. But then again…he’s still an Egg. Though oddly enough, Dad is a big fan of Twitter and stays up-to-date on all of the news and traffic from his phone…he just likes to watch what’s going on rather than participate in any conversations…which is kind of creepy…cause he knows everything!
(Oh…one comment on tweeting…make sure you put in a space before the @ symbol or it doesn’t work properly. Also, you can’t use symbols in a hashtag…like ! $ % & etc…)
5. Reply, Retweet and Favourite.
At the bottom of a tweet you receive there are a few options. To Reply to a tweet…click the arrow button and it will automatically set things up so you can add your response. The tweet and all of the replies are all listed together.
The Retweet button is used when you find a tweet interesting, and you’d like to Retweet it, so all of your followers will see it as well. (Careful you don’t “steal” people’s tweets…if you like the tweet, retweet it out rather than typing it from scratch as if it were your own.)
The star, or the favourite…tells the person you “like” their tweet.
OH…also, if your tweet starts with an @ symbol, only the person you are referencing will see that tweet…which often isn’t what you want. So if you tweeted something like…
@CurtainsareOpen you’re awesome
it would show up in my newsfeed but none of your other friends or my other friends would see it unless they actually looked on my home page.
You could say…
Hey @CurtainsareOpen you’re awesome
and then all of our friends would see it.
OR…you’ll see people putting a period in front…
[email protected] you’re awesome.
Mostly I’m telling you this because people always wonder why some folks put a period in front of messages…now you know!
Note: In the above example, if you did it the way that only you and I would see it, you need not worry…I’d just retweet it out so everyone could see it anyway!! 🙂
When used correctly, hashtags can be a super powerful tool. For example, in sticking with the #ECMChat example, if you were to type ECMChat in the search bar at the top of the screen, it would list everything to do with the East Coast Mom Chat…as long as people used the hashtag. So, essentially, you can follow the entire topic just by entering the hashtag. (Also note, many people…including myself, use hashtags as sarcasm…you’ll see some funny ones out there!)
So…that’s twitter, in a nutshell…though there are MANY more things you’ll learn as you go along. This is an introductory post that should get you started. Twitter took me a bit of time to get comfortable but if you have any questions at all…ask away and I’d be happy to help you out.
If you get into this whole Party on Twitter thing and really like the feel of this new social media, you might want to look at using Lists to organize things better (which I’ve failed to do.) As well, I use a third-party software, Tweet Deck, when I’m attending a twitter party. It allows me to set up multiple columns of information…for example, for this party I’d have a column for the hashtag #ECMChat…so I can see what everyone is saying. I’d also have a column for @CurtainsareOpen and one for @Mmmisformommy. That way, I don’t miss anything. AND…if you’re super awesome at mulit-tasking, you could have another column for your own newsfeed so you can see what’s going on with the rest of your friends while you’re concentrating on the #ECMChat! Ahh…so much information.
See you Wednesday, 9PM, #ECMChat!
PS… AMENDMENT to my post! I was off a bit on my explanation of the @ symbol at the beginning of a post and received a great message from my friend Anita with a link to a fantastic explanation. (Click on the words “link to a fantastic explanation” to get it.) Anita runs Twirp Communications, the chick (more bird references) I mentioned last week. She’s super helpful with all things social media and to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t have her look at this post before I hit the Publish button! Thank Anita for an awesome explanation…head to Twirp and subscribe to their newsletter for tons of information on wading through social media!!