What is Twitter and why does it keep following me around?

Twitter ExplainedWhy Twitter Is UsefulHow to Use Twitter
How to Network with TwitterTwitter In the News
Twitter Tools 

Twitter Explained

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, “What are you doing?” by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called “tweets”, to your friends, or “followers.”

What is Twitter and why does it keep following me around? 1 The short format of the tweet is a defining characteristic of the service, allowing informal collaboration and quick information sharing that provides relief from rising email and IM fatigue. Twittering is also a less gated method of communication: you can share information with people that you wouldn’t normally exchange email or IM messages with, opening up your circle of contacts to an ever-growing community of like-minded people.

You can send your messages using the Twitter website directly, as a single SMS alert, or via a third-party application such as Twirl, Snitter, or the Twitterfox add-on for Firefox. (See below for links to Twitter tools and applications.)

Your tweets are displayed on your profile page, on the home page of each of your followers, and in the Twitter public timeline (unless you disable this in your account settings.)

What is Twitter and why does it keep following me around? 2

You can receive tweets by visiting the Twitter website, IM, SMS, RSS, email or via a third-party application.

For more information about what Twitter is all about, see:

Why Twitter is Useful

Twitter has many uses for both personal and business use. It’s a great way to keep in touch with your friends and quickly broadcast information about where you are and what you’re up to. For example, “I’m downtown and aching for some sushi. Anyone like to join me?”

For business, Twitter can be used to broadcast your company’s latest news and blog posts, interact with your customers, or to enable easy internal collaboration and group communication.

To learn more about how you can make use of Twitter, see:

How to Use Twitter

Getting Started

Visit the Twitter website and click “Join for free” to create your account. Consider using your real name as your user name to help your friends find you more easily.

Once your account is created, login and click “Settings.” From here, you can setup your account details, manage your password, register your mobile phone and IM account, configure how you receive Notices, upload your photo and customize your account’s design.

Your Twitter page is located at twitter.com/your-username

Sending Messages

You can “tweet” from your Twitter page, your mobile phone, IM account, or via a third-party Twitter client.

What is Twitter and why does it keep following me around? 3

  • From your Twitter page: S imply enter a message in the text field at the top of the page and click “Update.”
  • From your mobile phone: Send an SMS message to 40404.
  • From your IM account: Send a message to either twitter@twitter.com (Jabber/GTalk) or TwitterIM (AOL).

Your tweet will be displayed to your followers, either on their Twitter page, mobile phone, or any other way they are setup to receive Twitter updates.

Following Other Twitter Users

Finding and adding friends to your “Twitterverse” is easy.

What is Twitter and why does it keep following me around? 4

  • From the Twitter website: Login to your account, visit your friends’ Twitter pages and click “Follow” underneath their photo. If your friend’s account is public, you will immediately start seeing their tweets on your page, otherwise your friend will need to approve you before you can see their updates.
  • From your mobile phone or IM account: Send the command follow username.

See the Twitter website for a complete reference of Twitter Commands.

@Replies and Direct Messages

When you send a message with @username at the beginning, it’s understood that your message is intended for that specific user, but all your followers can still see the tweet. Note that for the intended recipient to see your message on their home page, they must be following you, otherwise they will only see your message on the Replies tab.

To send a friend a private tweet, use the Direct command: d username message.

Learn more about using Twitter:

How to Network with Twitter

The following blog posts are aimed at bloggers and other professionals who would like to use Twitter for business.

Twitter In The News

Twitter Tools

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More Places to Find Twitter Tools

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