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Tweet Me Right

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Account user Paula Lepore Burrough looks into the brilliance of Twitter and its capacity to enlighten.

Launched in July 2006, Twitter, the so-called SMS of the internet, had over 500 million active users as of 2012, generating over 340 million tweets and handling over 1.6 billion search queries daily. But not many of us understand the true power of this social messaging tool. You can in fact compare Twitter to Wikipedia, as both give experts worldwide an opportunity to share their knowledge. With Twitter, you share information via 140-character tweets. Once you have created your following you have created a Personal Learning Network. The only thing you have to be afraid of is being instantly enlightened. That is the brilliance of a short tweet.

Your identity It is important to set up your profile well. Post a decent photo of yourself, give a clear outline of who you are in the bio section, and include your job description. This will give your tweets authority, encourage the right sort of followers and help you seek out who you might want to follow in return. Twitter, like any other social media, has trolls. By not following them and limiting any interaction, you probably won’t even know they are there. Rather than seeking out users in your email contacts, who have a Twitter account, create a new group of professionals.

Who to follow In deciding who to follow,if you want a clean slate,try one of these two options. Recruit your followers at a large group event such as a  conference, then hand out your Twitter name in exchange for theirs. By the end of the day you will have a new mass of people following you. Alternatively, try clicking on Browse Categories and get a list of suggested accounts, or use the search box to type in an interest topic. Twitter then starts searching for you and suggests people you should follow based on your interests and others you are following.

Helpful hashtags This is what differentiates Twitter from other social media status updates. A hashtag marks a conversation by using # before a word or series of words with no spaces. Clicking on a hash-tagged word in any message shows you all other tweets marked with the same keyword. Interestingly this system was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorise messages. Hashtags help to organise content, and enable users to take notice of trending topics based on where they live and who they are following. Go to www.whatthetrend.com.

Twitter fun There are hundreds of tools to help you get the most out of Twitter.Vidtwit is a great mobile phone app for taking videos that can be tweeted. Tweetbackup archives conversations for later years. Trendsmap is a riot, for real-time mapping of Twitter trends across the world. Twubs is useful for discovering conversations through hashtags and a great place for registering your own hashtag for an event. If you start to get carried away (think Ashton Kutcher), Tweetdeck will organise feeds, find focus, even schedule tweets and manage multiple accounts.

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