My contributions to a Hitchhiker’s guide to Twitter

I have had an entry in my “to blog” list for the past couple weeks to get out an update on my experiences on Twitter and to provide a bit of a user guide for a few of the people I know that read things here from time to time and that have recently signed up.
Well it seems that Dave Winer beat me to the punch with a recent post on his blog.  And while he is more focused on basic twitter philosophy, I have a few things to add about basic mechanics for the new twitterer.  This will not be a rehash of the basic commands, etc.  You can get a better idea of the ‘how’ to twitter here .  This is just a basic list of things to do / think about after you’ve signed up, learned the basics and sent your first ‘Hello world’.
1 –  Get a good client.  I know some people that use the web UI almost exclusively on their PC, but what has really made a big difference in the usefulness of Twitter to me is the Twhirl client.  There are lots of different ones out there, so just find one and use it.  It will give you a lot quicker way to consume, author and respond to messages. (BTW – this is not to discount using SMS for twitter, which can also be really valuable, but for me is a differnt use model)
2 –  Find people to follow, preferably a lot.  Twitter has been one of the most obvious examples of the network effect in action I have ever seen and the more people you follow, the more value you will get out of it.  The question I had when I started was: how do you find people to follow?  I’ve built my following list over the past few weeks by doing a few things.  First, I have looked through my RSS feeds and looked for Twitter accounts that belong to some of my favorite bloggers.  Once they are in, I start to watch who they @reply to, and I start to follow them too.  Lastly, I do keyword searches (using terraminds) to see who is talking about some of the topics I am interested in and I follow them to.   I do have a 5 tweet rule.  If a specific twitterer has 5 tweets in a row that I could care less about I un-follow them.  It’s easy enough to add them again later.
3 – Get people to follow you.  This is where it gets tricky.  If you have a blog, it doesn’t hurt to tie your blog and your twitter account together.  If you don’t you really have some work to do because you have to start to say some really interesting things in 140 characters or less.  If there are other methods out there to build a base of followers, please leave me a comment.
4 – Participate in the conversation.  You get what you give.  If you see something come across your twiver (tweet river) that you have an opinion on, don’t be afraid to @reply.  If you have an interesting concept and want to know what people think, figure out how to say it and ask for feedback in those 140 characters.
I must admit, after I signed up for Facebook and Twitter the same day, I spent a lot more time on Facebook at first.  I still spend a few minutes a day there now, but I am always in Twitter.  Why?  Still trying to figure that out exactly, but the combination of ambient conversation, super timely information, direct communication with friends and the fact that it’s always easy to be connected keeps me there.






One response to “My contributions to a Hitchhiker’s guide to Twitter”

  1. Xaver Avatar

    same is true for me: spend much more time in twitter than in facebook … twitter is easiear to follow … no gaming … just threads of information – I like twitter very much!

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