Yes, I’m writing another post on this twitter stuff. And I know you’re all probably like for the love of god Turner shut up about it already. Well just think about it all you have to do is read about Twitter on a blog, you don’t have sleep, breath and watch T.V. with me.
There doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive easy to use guide on how to actually use twitter. Most sites only want to write about Twitter to explain how it’ll change the world or make you money or change the travel industry or save your cat. So I thought I would list some key things you need to know to get truly involved on the conversation.
Messages & Replies
There are two methods to contact someone on Twitter.
Private Messages – If you want to send someone a private message in Twitter, all you have to do is start your message with “D [user name] and then whatever content you want to send them. (Ex. D ctoverdrive your feet smell.) Doing this will send the user a private message that no one else on twitter will be able to see. (i.e. it won’t appear in the public stream) Pretty straight forward eh? Well sorta. There is one thing to remember. You have to be following each other on twitter for a direct message to work. So unless you’re one of the lucky 63 people Dooce follows your private message to her about your dog won’t work.
@Replies – Are a quick way to indicate who the post is addressed to or who the post is about. essentially use the @ sign followed by the username to indicate you are talking about some one in the public realm. (Ex. @ctoverdrive you need odor eaters for your shoes dude!) The one little thing to remember is that if you place the reply at the beginning of the tweet only people who follow both you and the reply user will be able to see it. If you put the reply in the middle of the post, everyone can see it.
General Twitter Speak
The main thing to remember is that you only have 140 characters to make your point. So with that in mind here are some common techniques to help get your message across.
Airport Codes – Airport codes is a cute character saving way to note what city you are talking about. Essentially instead of writing the city’s full name (Ex. Calgary) you use the city’s appropriate Airport Code (Ex. yyc for Calgary) . While it might seem silly to remember all those airplane codes just to save 4 characters. But if you have the unfortunate luck to live in Edmonton, typing yeg would be far easier.
Hash Tags – Hash tags (#) are used to indicate a specific topic. For example, if I’m twitting the tonight’s Flames game I would say Good lord! Nystrum with his 15th goal of the game! #yyc #flames People reading my tweet will know in a couple of seconds that I’m talking about the Flames and Calgary.
Retweets – Retweeting is a good way to indicate you found something cool you’d like to share, but you want to site the original finder … So you retweet it. start your tweet with RT: followed by the original person’s twitter name and then their twit.
Lifetrack – this is sorta a Calgary thing, but by prefacing your tweet with #lifetrack followed by the artist and song title, you can give people who follow you a window into your musical world.
See now after all that info doesn’t this tweet make sense now.
Add-ons & Other Things
So now you know a couple of things about Twitter, here are some tools to make things easier for your twittering experience.
Tinyurls – Again you’ve only got 140 characters to make your point. But what happens when the link you want to share is almost 200 characters long? Well you use a Tinyurl editor. These are web sites that take your url’s and transform them into 25 character long links. (P.S. install a tinyurl creator on your Firefox browser and save your self time and hassle. _
Twitter Clients – There are dozens upon dozens of clients available for Twitter. All designed to make using twitter that much better. And I’ll leave the comments open for people to discuss their favorites, but in my opinion the TwitterFox Plugin is my client of choice. It installs in the corner of your Firefox browser and will notify you of recent tweets. It’s simple and less intrusive and easy to hide at work.
So there’s the old c.t.overdrive guide to Twitter Speak. I’ll do a second round of tips and tricks in the future, but for all of those wanting to explore the world of twitter I hope this helps. Also feel free to follow ctoverdrive and armadillostudio for all your twitter needs.
… oh yeah and as promised here’s Common Craft’s Twitter in Plain English explanation.
Connor Turner is the guy behind c.t.overdrive. He is a web designer, entrepreneur and all around pop-culture nerd. This site has been running since 2006 and is a collection of random rants and interesting links. If you want some info on the "cto" check out the about me page.