Since getting swept up in social media, I have come to take some of the basics for granted. Here is one of the basics in a nutshell: Twitter is a service that allows you to send messages of 140 characters or less to be viewed by people that “follow you.” And you can see updates from people who you follow. It is known as “microblogging” – posting brief updates as opposed to longer, more developed blog posts. Huh? OK, a much better description can be found on Tweeternet.
The reality is that it took some time for me to get a handle on what Twitter is and why it is so useful. At first it felt like noise. And I suppose that in some ways it is. I am rarely interested in what someone else had for breakfast… But when you get past that, there is a lot of great information being shared on Twitter.
A while back I posted some of my thoughts about Twitter (microblogging) and blogging fit in with one another. This was one of them:
As I see it, microblogging is a way to share where you are or what you are doing, to drop a quick question or observation, to participate in an ongoing conversation, to find out what other, interesting people are thinking about, and it is fun to boot. But for me the most valuable reason to get into microblogging is to share and to be made aware of links to longer, more thoughtful pieces that you have found or written yourself.
Building a network of followers is key if you want to make real use of Twitter to get a message out. This is something that I am just now beginning to work on in a concentrated way, and something that Ernest has done a much better job of. How do you do it? Short answer is to be interesting and to follow interesting people. For a (much) longer answer I enjoyed this post by Guy Kawasaki about how to pick up followers on Twitter.
Here are few other posts I have come across (blogs, a slide preso, and a video… something for everyone!). This list is by no means exhaustive (not even close!) – just Google “using Twitter” and you’ll see what I mean:
- The Twitter guide by Caroline Middlebrook
- 50 Ideas on using Twitter for business from Chris Brogan (can be applied to schools, too!)
- A really good post on using Twitter as an education tool.
- A slide presentation on using Twitter for public relations
- A popular video on YouTube: Twitter in plain English
That’s enough for now… So go out and get involved in the Twitterverse. And be sure to follow me: http://twitter.com/steveritchie – I promise to follow you back!