If you read a lot of blogs, you’ve probably noticed that the hottest thing on Planet Earth right now seems to be Twitter. Not only are the bloggers using it, famous people like Karl Rove, Britney Spears, & Shaquille O’Neal have Twitter accounts as well.
Here’s a guide that will tell you a little more about how and why you should be using Twitter.
What would I do with a Twitter account?
* Some people use Twitter as sort of a public instant messenger. Instead of talking to their friends on AIM or ICQ, they do it on Twitter.
* Another possible usage of Twitter is to treat it like a blog with a 140 character limit per post.
* Then there are the people who simply post what they do all day long, use Twitter as a networking tool, and do other things like pretend to be Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or organize Tweetbombs.
If I want to promote my blog or website with Twitter, should I just run an RSS feed through Twitter?
I recommend feeding in a few links per day instead of just doing a RSS feed. That’s because typically, a RSS feed will spew out so many links over the course of the day that it will discourage people from following you.
Twitter seems a little boring to me. What do I do?
Ok, I’ll tell you a little secret if you promise to keep it quiet. Promise? Okay, here it is: about 99% of the posts on Twitter overall are dull. So, you need to really comb through Twitter and find people who are either genuinely fascinating or that you are fascinated with.
Should I change my picture?
Yes. Leaving the default pic in just screams, “I am a newb who’ll quit tweeting in a week. Don’t bother to follow me.” To change your pic, click on settings. Next, go to picture. From there, you can upload an image you want to use.
Are there any settings changes I should make right out of the box?
Here’s a settings change that made a big difference for me: login into your Twitter account, click on settings, go to notices, and change your “@ replies” setting to “show me @ replies to the people I am following.”
The reason I tell you to do that is because the default setting on Twitter shows you all @ replies, which in effect means that you are constantly seeing half of a conversation showing up in your Twitter stream. I found that to be incredibly annoying, especially when I was following people who would fire off 15 of those @replies in a row.
What about backgrounds? Can I change those?
Yes. Click on settings. Next, click design. From there you can change your Twitter theme or upload your own background image from your computer. If you upload your own image, keep in mind that people with different screen resolutions may see a larger or smaller portion of the picture you upload. So, for that reason, I prefer to use a nature snap that I took near where I live. That’s because it’ll look great at any screen size.
When that’s done, you may want to change the colors on your Twitter page. You do that by clicking on settings. Next click on design. Then, you can make changes that you’ll be able to see in real time.
What is the character limit on Twitter?
You can do a maximum of 140 characters per post on Twitter. No HTML allowed.
The Twitter “Find People” function doesn’t work very well. Do they have a search?
Yes, they do. It’s located here.
Can you suggest some places I can find interesting people to follow?
Absolutely! Here are some great websites to check out,
Right Wing News bloggers on Twitter
Can you suggest some other Twitter applications and web pages that I should take a look at?
There are an enormous number of Twitter websites and applications of varying usefulness that have sprung up and in some cases, already died. Here are a few that have caught my eye.
Social Too (Send automatic direct messages to people who follow you)
TinyURL (Great for shortening web addresses)
TweetDeck (Desktop Twitter client. If you follow more than a hundred people, you probably need this)
TweetStats (Just what it says)
TwitPic (Share pics on Twitter)
Twitter Buttons (Create Twitter buttons for your blog)
That’s all. Hope this has been helpful and I’ll see you on Twitter!
Update #1: From the comments section, here’s something worth including,
“You forgot about hashmarks, John.
For the new guys: twitter uses # as a sign that’s easily searchable for folks who want to get in on large conversations with each other. I’ve found that Tweetdeck’s search function, where it has the search continually updated in a separate column, really helps in following these.
I keep #tcot and #hhrs up most of the time.
Oh, and Karl Rove is one of the newest tweeters on #tcot.” — Raposa
Update #2: My buddy David All also has a Twitter 101 guide you may want to take a look at.