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Are you the kind of person who likes to tell others what you've been doing? Do you gather stories about your day? Do you watch for interesting sights or events so you can share them?
Have you considered a weblog but aren't sure you have enough to write about? Do you already have a weblog, but feel that some experiences aren't really long enough to blog about?
If this describes you, you might enjoy Twitter.
Twitter is for staying in touch and keeping up with friends no matter where you are or what you're doing. For some friends you might want instant mobile updates'for others, you can just check the web. Invite your friends to Twitter and decide how connected you want you to be.
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? If you don't like that question, try "What are you thinking?", "Where are you going?", "Where have you been?", or "What would you like to know?"
Twitter and MeI started using Twitter in September 2007. Eight months later, (when I wrote this) I was following 177 people. 155 people were following me. I had posted 405 updates. I may not be the busiest voice in the Twitterverse, but I really enjoy it. And the numbers slowly edge upwards.
(Edit: As of Oct 2015, 8 years after joining Twitter, I am following 1297 people and 992 are following me. I have posted 11.7K tweets and marked 17.9K as Favorites.).
Different people have different ways of using Twitter. Some use it as a chat room, carrying on multi-way conversations. Some use it to post short updates in just a few words. I use Twitter as a micro-weblog, I'll generally post at least 100 characters in complete sentences. I try to make each tweet complete in itself. (Occasionally, I'll use two to finish the thought.)
Retweets and FavoritesI Favorite things that catch my eye and take advantage of Twitter's small space to tell an interestng story. I favorite a lot of tweets.
When I ReTweet, I do it manually, adding RT and some small comment of my own. I do not like (and do not use) Twitter's internal retweet system. To me, retweets without context are boring. I want to know why you're retweeting this!
(Edit: Oct 2015 - I am now using Twitter's enhanced retweeting mechanism, which prompts for additional content and then includes a link to the original tweet. It's the best of both worlds: a simple button and the ability to add my own thoughts about what I'm sharing.)
Who and How I Follow
I've read some other Twitterers' "Follow Policies". I agree quite a bit with Shel Israel and Roland Smith. I started with some of their ideas below, mixed and enhanced liberally with my own. This is my "Follow Policy". Feel free to share, borrow, or build on it.
How Do I Decide If I'll Follow You?
- I do not automatically follow back just because someone follows me.
- I prefer to follow real people. It helps if you have a Bio and a URL on your page.
- Before I decide to follow you, I will read a few pages of your tweets. If I like what I read, I'll probably follow you.
- I like reading about what you are doing and what you think.
- I like to follow people who are interested in the same things I'm interested in: technology, Mac OS, cats, social software, books, nature, people. However, I don't limit myself to following people with only my interests, experiences, or background. I enjoy reading about people who live in unfamiliar places.
- I will always follow someone whom I believe takes advantage of the Twitter limitations in a poetic or lyrical fashion. I am constantly looking for more people like this. Ask me who I like best in this group and I'll share.
- I follow people who obviously know how to write and enjoy doing it.
- I follow people I think I would enjoy talking to in "real life".
- If your tweets make me smile or laugh or want to share with other people, I will most likely follow you.
- I'm not interested in politics, religion, or porn. I don't really care what music you're listening to. I'm not into sports. I don't bicycle or run. I don't watch television. If these are your main interests and you talk about them a lot... I probably won't follow you.
- With few exceptions, I do not follow non-humans (candidates, brands, causes, or companies) or automated tweets. When I follow News feeds or blog feeds, I use a different Twitter account just for that. (I do follow @marsphoenix. :)
- I don't care for excessive profanity and I don't follow people who tweet consistantly in expletives (although I may make exceptions if you make me laugh). I avoid following disagreeable, carping, rude or generally insulting people. Rule of thumb - if you're tiresome, I won't follow. Well-done snark, on the other hand, is an art.
- If you're using Twitter as a way to practice your "stand-up comic" routine, I won't follow. If you are genuinely funny just being yourself, I will!
- If the majority of your postings are @ replies, where I only see one side of a conversation, I probably won't follow you. Some @ replies are certainly OK (and expected). But if that's all you're doing, you're using Twitter as a one-to-one chat program and I don't play that way. Considering that I only subscribe to the default "@ replies to the people I'm following", if you're mostly talking to people I don't follow... what's in it for me?
- If most of your tweets are really short, I won't follow you. I've chosen many of the people I follow by their scores on tweet140. You get 140 characters. Use them.
- On the other hand, I won't follow people who seem to be padding out just to hit 140. I'm a writer. I appreciate the ability to write in other people.
- As a writer, I get tired of l33tspeak. If u r cnstntly abbrvtng I wont folow u. An occasional LOLtweet is, however, acceptable. kthxbye.
- If you tweet so often that you monopolize my incoming stream, I will probably unfollow you. I may pick you up in RSS but not in Twitter.
- If you are following thousands of people, I probably won't follow you. If you're a real person doing this, and you tweet regularly about what you're doing personallly, I'll let you follow me. If you're trying to sell me something, tweeting automated babble, or just trying to entice people to follow you back, I will block you.
- If you begin every tweet with the word "is", I will not follow you. (Hint: We know it's you doing/thinking/tweeting this.)
If I don't follow you, that doesn't mean you're not an interesting person. It just means your way of using Twitter doesn't match mine.
To quote Buzz Bishop: "...If I think you're valuable, I'll follow you - if you think I'm valuable, you'll follow me. The two are mutually exclusive."
- That Goddamned Blue Bird and Me: How Twitter Hijacked My Mind the best essay I;ve read to date on what Twitter is, why it's different for everyone who uses it, and why you shouldn;t form an opinion until you've tried it for several months.
- Mom, This is How Twitter Works (not just for moms!) - an excellent illustrated guide
- Tweeternet - a one page Twitter primer
- Twitter in Plain English video
- The Unofficial Twitter Fan Wiki
- The Official Twitter Blog
- Geek and Poke many Twitter cartoons! (Also Facebook, Web 2.0, ...)
- My Twitter Story: Why I Use Twitter (Stowe Boyd)
- Why I Like Twitter (David A. Levine)
- Convert a Twitter Skeptic
- Help Me Explain Twitter to Eggheads (Jay Rosen, NYU)
- Great Twitter Moments wherein Twitter was "the connective tissue that made that moment happen in a time of need."
- The Latest in Learning Fast: edu-Twittering Why not augment the question, "What Are You Doing?" with "What Are You Learning?" or even "What Can Others Learn From?" (Marcia Conner)
- Top Tips for Building Twitter Relationships (Brian Solis)
- Join Twitter
Some of My Writings About TwitterI occasionally write about Twitter in one of my other weblogs. You might be interested in reading:
Do You Twitter? (September 18, 2007)I've started using Twitter. Twitter is a social networking service. Twitter is microblogging. Twitter is realtime updates for you, your friends, and the people you follow, in 140 characters or less. Twittering: Who, What, and Why (October 9, 2007) Shortly after I posted my recent entry on Twitter, I sent notes to various e-list groups I read regularly, asking if any of the members use Twitter. A former co-worker replied thusly to my inquiry: Haven't used Twitter... I think these services are kinda silly. Who cares what I had for lunch today?? Well, that depends. Was it a particularly good lunch? Perhaps at a new and interesting restaurant you would recommend to friends? Still, if that's your impression of Twitter, you haven't taken a good look at it lately. There's a lot more going on than just "what I had for lunch". Tools Don't Hurt Companies (January 7, 2008) On Dec. 19th, Michael Krigsman wrote an article entitled Twitter is Dangerous. The reason? Krigsman says that Twitter "is rapidly becoming a serious threat to corporate information protection". Uhuh. Not. I'm a Twitter Twit (January 20, 2008) Paul Downey writes: "Ruminating on Twitter constraints, I see two kinds of Twitterers emerging: Twits and Twerps." Now Using Twitterific (May 6, 2008) I have started following Twitter using Twitterific (Mac OS X only). I'm not 100% in love with Twitterific, but I like it well enough to pay the (optional) registration fee. I figure registering gives me a better chance of success when filing feature requests. :-) (Registration also makes the ads disappear.) Twoosh (May 11, 2008) I've been playing with tweet140. It's fun. Besides which, I don't much care for really short posts (either to write or to read). I prefer complete sentences. I want some value for the tweet. Twitter - Do You Get It? (May 13, 2008) There are two kinds of people: Those who "get" Twitter and those who don't. How can something so (apparently) simple be so difficult to understand? Maybe because it's so simple.