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TWITTER - 101 To Twitter or Not to Twitter That is the Question.

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1 TWITTER - 101 To Twitter or Not to Twitter That is the Question.

2 WHAT IS TWITTER? Twitter is what is known as a microblogging service, an online place where you can 'post' short messages, or 'tweets' of 140 characters (including spaces). These 'tweets' can be read by anyone who is 'following' you (essentially, subscribing to your tweets). Similarly, you can follow (subscribe) to the tweets of anyone you want, from friends and family to favorite celebrities, publications and Web sites (like Switched, which you can 'follow' on Twitter by clicking here). The tweets of your followees show up in a main feed right on Twitter's main page, one after the other in chronological order. At its most basic, Twitter is a dedicated status updating service à la Facebook (in fact, Facebook seems to have modeled its recent upgrade on Twitter), with which you can keep people up-to-date with your life -- be it what you're doing at a particular moment in time, a link to an interesting Web site, or something as mundane as what you had for lunch.tweetsSwitched, which you can 'follow' on Twitter by clicking herestatus updating

3 HOW DO I GET ON TWITTER? Today, there are more ways to access Twitter than there are characters in the average tweet. Most obviously, the site can be accessed via the Web site, which has a place for you to easily add your updates in a field at the top of a page, as well as a central feed of all the tweets by your friends and followees. There's also a place for you to see who is following you and who you are following, a place to set up a profile, and a bank of settings (where you can set up forwarding to your cell phone, for example, so you can receive the latest tweets from anyone you choose via text message). In addition to the main site, plenty of Web and desktop apps help recreate the Twitter experience with added features not found on Tweetree, for example, previews YouTube links and images inside tweets, while Twhirl and Tweetdeck are optimized for photo uploading. Tweetdeck even helps you search and filter by topic within Twitter, which is handy if you follow more than 200 people. Mobile apps such as TwitterFon, Tweetie, and Twitterific let you read and send updates right from your phone with added features that can tell your geographical location (using your phone's built-in GPS) and allow instant image uploading. There's even an app that integrates with Facebook. The Twitter Facebook application simply mirrors your Twitter updates on Facebook. In other words, update something on Twitter, and it's automatically on your Facebook page as a status update.plenty of Web and desktop apps help recreate the Twitter experienceTweetreeTwhirlTweetdeckTwitter Facebook application

4 WHAT SHOULD MY FIRST STEPS BE? The first thing to do is sign up. Choose a username -- something uniquely you, but not embarrassing. If it's available, try to get your real name. The next step is to start following friends and family that you can find using Twitter's contact importer, which searches your contacts on Gmail, Yahoo!, or other Web mail services for people on Twitter. If you just want to search by name, that'll work, too. Following someone is as simple as pressing the 'Follow' button on their Twitter page. Next, it's time to create your profile. You get one image (so make it count) and 160 characters to explain who you are and what you do to the 'Twitterverse.' As you can see, we're not in Facebook-land anymore.Facebook

5 IS MY TWITTER PROFILE AS IMPORTANT AS MY FACE BOOK OR MYSPACE PROFILE? While Facebook and MySpace are filled with various ways to post information, pictures, and annoying applications, Twitter is a more controlled environment -- just a name, location, Web site link, 160- character bio, and a picture. Therefore, it's all about what you say in that 160-character space, especially since people are more likely to read your whole Twitter profile than they are the hard-to-wade- through, gargantuan tomes that end up on a typical Facebook or MySpace profile. In other words, yes, your Twitter profile can get you fired, so watch what you say here (and in your tweets, for that matter).your Twitter profile can get you fired

6 WHAT SHOULD I PUT IN MY TWEETS? Anything you want! As a general guideline, though, tweets should be informative and pithy, and should reveal something about yourself – whether that's a link that reveals something that interest you, or a mere, "It's been a tough week." Still, they shouldn't be too direct and matter-of-fact. Make sure to inject your personality. Here are a couple of examples: Bad: MTA Raising fares: Better: Looks like I'm going to have to get a 2nd job just to pay for my commute: Bad: Getting Starbucks. Better: Is it weird that they have my coffee ready before I get to the counter at Starbucks? In addition to links and general updates about your life, you can also post pictures using a service like the popular Twitpic. Twitter wasn't designed for posting images, but Twitpic lets you host images, using your Twitter name (no need to register for a new service), and creates a TinyURL-style link so that you can share them via Twitter. Many Twitter apps, such as Twhirl and TwitterFon, are integrated with Twitpic, allowing you to take and/or post images without visiting the Twitpic website.informative and pithy, and should reveal something about yourselfTwitpicTwhirl

7 HOW COME ALL THE LINKS IN TWEETS SAY TINYURL? WHAT IS A TINYURL? How come all the links in tweets say TinyURL? What is a TinyURL? TinyURL is a URL-shortening service that takes a lengthy, character-hogging Web link like this: all-know-how-to-use-it/ and compresses it to a much more manageable size like this: The new TinyURL forwards you to the original site. Twitter automatically replaces all links, above a certain length, with a TinyURL version in order to save as much of your 140 characters as possible. Just place any link into your tweet, and Twitter will convert it automatically.

8 HOW DO I GET SOMEONE TO FOLLOW ME? Getting people to follow you is the trickiest part of being a Twitter success. We've posted suggestions from Digg's Kevin Rose, and Julia Angwin of the Wall Street Journal, but building a base of followers is as simple (or difficult) as providing interesting content. Whether it's being funny or creative, or just posting lots of links that people find interesting, the ways to get people to follow you mostly have to do with the quality of your tweets. In other words, say something funny or original. If you don't have anything original to say, post a link to something original (a funny video or picture, or an interesting article). And, as we mentioned before, get that beautiful personality of yours in there!Digg's Kevin RoseJulia Angwin

9 WHAT IF I DON’T WANT SOMEONE TO FOLLOW ME? People can start following you by clicking on a button, but sometimes we don't want certain folks reading about the minutiae of our daily lives. So, if, for some reason, you really don't want someone to follow you, you can block them by visiting their Twitter page and clicking on the the "Block (username)" link on the right-hand side.

10 CAN I RESPOND DIRECTLY TO SOMEONE’S TWEET? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN @ AND A DIRCT MESSAGE? You can respond to people one of two ways: with direct messages, which are private, 140-character exchanges, or with @replies, which are publicly viewable. You can send a '@reply' by simply adding the '@' symbol and the particular user's name to the beginning of your message (example: "@switched: I really liked that article on Twitter!"). These @replies are ideal for furthering a public dialogue. On the other hand, direct messages, which you can send by clicking 'Direct Messages' in the Web site's right-hand bar (or by preceding a text message with 'd' and the user name), are better for things you want to say to an individual, rather than the whole 'Twitterverse.'

11 WHAT IS RETWEETING? ReTweets are re-posted updates that give credit to the originator of the message. In other words, you're simply cutting and pasting someone else's tweet and posting it on your own feed, linking to the person who first wrote it. ReTweeting builds goodwill within the Twitter community, as long as you don't overdo it. There is no need to reTweet every update that makes you giggle, but, if something strikes you as particularly interesting or funny, you can reTweet it by copy-and-pasting the update and preceding it with "RT" (for ReTweet) and the person's username. Here's an example: We saw slashfilm posted about a new movie trailer yesterday, and wanted to share it, so we wrote: RT: @slashfilm: The movie trailer for Spike Jonze's Where The Wild Things Are is now online" That person will get a copy of the ReTweet, and most likely thank you for it! (ReTweeting is also a good way to get more followers, by the way.)slashfilmso we wrote

12 IS TWITTER SECURE? Is Twitter secure? Twitter is just as secure as any other Web site. So no need to be overly paranoid that someone is going to hack into your Twitter account. But be careful, nonetheless. Spammers, hackers and viruses have infiltrated the system before, either by hacking into existing accounts or by creating new ones, and are constantly posting links to malicious Web sites. If someone you're following starts acting strangely, repeatedly posting the same link with an offer for a free something-or-another, don't follow that link (while you're at it, un-follow them). Also, be smart about what you post. A home address, personal phone number, or Social Security number should never ever be posted on Twitter... but the same goes for any other social networking site, as well. viruses have infiltrated the system

13 WHAT SHOULD I NOT DO ON TWITTER? What should I not do on Twitter? Much like any form of conversation, there are things you should do on Twitter and things you should refrain from doing. First up, don't tweet everything you think; sure, it might be funny to write about your refrigerator being empty once or twice, but we can't think of too many people, even friends and family, interested in those types of messages. Take some advice from Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin; take the time to self-edit your posts before hitting send, instead of blasting out everything on your mind. Also, take it easy with the twittering and try not to get obsessed. Otherwise, you might end up breaking up relationships like John Mayer. If you start having a conversation with someone by using @replies, we recommend taking it to IM or e-mail, or (GASP!) face-to-face. Twitter is great for sharing thoughts and links, but doesn't work so well as a medium for one-on-one conversations. Much like Facebook and other social networks, Twitter can only be so useful if you add tons of friends. Sure, there are probably some social marketing extraordinaires (don't label yourself that) out there following 20,000 friends, but we recommend keeping your following list small; we've found a well-curated 200 to be a sweet spot, but your results may vary.Julia Angwinbreaking up relationships like John Mayer

14 WHAT ELSE CAN I USE TWITTER FOR? What else can I use Twitter for? Twitter is great for posting the daily ins and outs of your life, and keeping up with your comedian friends' (or actual comedians') ramblings, but Twitter really shows its usefulness when you venture beyond the basic messaging functionality. Dan York has detailed how to use Twitter as a "virtual water cooler" (for those of us who don't spend most of their days in an actual office), how to draw on the Twitter masses as a source of information (such as how to fix a broken gadget or the best places for sushi in Las Vegas), and how to use it to stay on top of current events (like the Presidential Inauguration or the Oscars). We've also seen how Twitter can be a source of breaking news. If you're on the Twitter Web site, you can use keywords in the search field at the top to find real-time results and trends. You can search by tweeting with '#tags.' Essentially, you add the '#' symbol in front of a keyword topic and send it out (for example, "#WBC," if you're looking for info on the World Baseball Classic) and you'll get a list of all the tweets that match that tag (it's also a great way to categorize your own tweets on a subject). While you can use the search box to look for the occurrence of words in someone's tweet, #tags are better for quickly categorizing updates, tracking a topic, and finding new people to follow. For that reason, we suggest using them in your own tweets. You can also use tools like TwitterFall or Tweetdeck to automatically watch for certain tags or trends. This means that you don't have to luck into an update and can instead get up-to-the-minute tweets about any topic you want. You can also get updates from traditional news sources like CNN or the BBC. This is really just scratching the surface. Twitter can also track packages, set alarms, and even let you keep a to-do list. You can even plan a trip to London with it. Twitter is as useful as you make it."virtual water cooler"Presidential InaugurationOscarsbreaking newsTwitterFallTweetdeckCNNBBCpackagesset alarmsto-do listplan a trip to London

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