What is it?
Twitter is a social networking site for a technique called ‘microblogging’. Users have a limit of 140 characters to make posts about a number of topics. It can be used to follow people, promote something, or engage in back-and-forth conversations. What is interesting about this program is that it removes degrees of separation between two people. For example, I can send a tweet to the account @KanyeWest, and it will go directly to him.
In the case of libraries, Twitter is an excellent resource for mingling with patrons as well as other professionals. Its egalitarian structure means conversations can be struck up with anyone, and ideas can be shared quickly and easily. Twitter is also the foundation for many other social media tools in that it can be used as a login for them.
Sounds cool. How do I get it?
Go to www.twitter.com and sign up for a free account. All you need is an Email address. When you create an account, there is a tutorial which prompts you to follow at least five Twitter users. It can be useful to a beginner, but I’d recommend skipping it. There’s a prompt for that at the bottom-left of that window.
Okay, I’m signed up. Now what?
You are hooked up to Twitter, but don’t start tweeting yet. The reason for this is that if you have no followers and aren’t following anyone, then literally nobody is listening. Start by looking up somebody to follow on your library’s or school’s perhaps. If the person has some friends/family who use it, follow them. Then, try tweeting something.
Your user name, like everyone else’s has the name you chose with an ‘@’ in front of it. To search for somebody, you can do it through your Email Contacts list or by searching for people in Twitter itself.
@replies – By clicking ‘Reply’ to somebody’s tweet, you are sending a response directly to them. When doing so, only people who follow both that person and you will see your response. If you want to make it so everybody who follows you will see it, you can put a period at the very beginning.
# Hashtagging — Adding a Hashtag (#) in front of a name, phrase, or theme serves two purposes. First, it provides your tweet with context and second, it will show up for anyone who is searching for tweets related to that tag. A clever tweet using a hashtag can gain you a lot of followers. On the left side of the page, there is a list of Trending Topics showing what many people are talking about at present.Retweeting/Favoriting: By clicking ‘Favorite’ under a tweet, it will appear on your feed with an orange box showing that you have favorited it. For retweeting, there are actually two options:
-Click on ‘Retweet’, then click to confirm. It will appear on your timeline attributed to that person. When you do it this way you, the person you are retweeting, and anybody who follows both of you will see it on their feeds.
-To add to a retweet, copy the original along with the ‘@’ name of the original poster, paste onto a fresh part, remove the time stamp, and then add content. You absolutely should add ‘RT’ to show that it is somebody else’s tweet that you are adding on to.
Let’s Take it Further
Check out some advanced tips once you’ve figured out the basics.
Would You Like To Know More?
Examples of Twitter being used in Canadian library settings: