I have posted many times before about Twitter, but despite all my posturing I still am not a frequent user. I know some people utilise both Twitter and Facebook, but I feel like I spend enough time on Facebook without spending more time on Twitter too.
I am a Facebook girl.
The other reasons I don’t use Twitter are that I really don’t have many non-work-related friends who use Twitter, and I suspect that a large majority of Twitter users are PR or marketing people (or people doing their own PR). This could just be a personal prejudice of mine. This article in the Independent , estimates the number of users as 2.4 million in the UK and a staggering 15.7 million in the US (April 2009).
Despite this huge ‘following’, there are apparently only 46 employees in Twitter – very small in relation to its users, and also its funding this year, $35million USD.
Since I am a marketing person myself, and since I love Lily Allen, I have decided to make a concerted Twitter effort. Today, I updated my Twitter (Trakka) 3 times. Admittedly this was within the space of 5 minutes, as I couldn’t decide how to start on my new endeavour. But still. Three times in one day is a great start I think. Now, my Twitter window will be open all day long on my laptop, next to my Yahoo mail, work email and Facebook.
To help me begin my quest, and to help others understand what I am talking about, here is my official 411 on Twitter:
What is it?
Twitter is a pared down version of the Facebook status update feature. It is touted by its founders as being a way for people to stay connected through the exchange of quick and frequent messages, which is true, if the people you know are actually on Twitter. More often it seems to be used by companies and celebrities to promote themselves or their products (Lily Allen, Skittles, Hugh Jackman, etc).
The updates, with a limit of 140 characters, are colloquially referred to as ‘tweets’, and are posted to your own profile and sent to your ‘followers’ (Similar to Facebook, where ‘followers’ = ‘friends’.). Unlike Facebook, your updates are also searchable, which has given rise to the comment that Twitter is the first ‘real-time’ search engine. A claim I disagree with, littered as it is with spam.
If you are reluctant for the public to be able to search your status, you can make it private. But by default, of course, it is public.
Similar to Facebook, and email, you can also receive private messages in Twitter. This disturbs me, as I already need to check my work email, private email and Facebook Inbox to see if anyone is saying anything to me – like Drew Barrymore says in ‘He’s just not that into you’, "It’s exhausting!".
What are the #’s about?
If you put a # before a word, this means that you are identifying it as belonging to a stream of twitters about that particular word or term. E.g. #Olympics, #Obama, etc.
What is an @reply?
If you want to use your status update to say something specifically to someone, you start your update with @, then the username of the person you are addressing. Because many updates are public and searchable, you can reply to people who you are not following.
If you want to see if anyone has done this with your username, there is an @username link in the right hand navigation of your home page where you can check it.
Now, come and follow me, @Trakka (yay, I am glad I got my nickname!)