I've heard a lot of responses from people saying, "Oh man, Twitter? I don't get the point of that thing!"
I didn't either for a long time. I first got on Twitter when the saintly Anonymous Donor who contributed the gorgeous Lost Souls painting to my legal fund suggested it might be a good way to raise awareness about my case and raise donations for my legal bills. I was really excited by the Twitter concept, but when I started using it I just saw my friends' tweets, and it was basically the same as my Facebook feed, only truncated and with no pictures. So I was like, well, why don't I just stick with Facebook then? And I basically stopped tweeting.
But then #IranElection happened. If you weren't following the news this summer, Iranian authorities ominously shut down the internet and phone lines after their June elections, and ordered all journalists to remain in their offices and not cover anything taking place in the streets. However, they were not smart enough to block Twitter, because it can be accessed in so many ways, and news still got out through that medium. It became a lifeline for access to news on the ground, and was able to successfully show the world the whole truth that the Regime would have liked to keep hidden.
I followed the Twitter feed avidly, and after a while I realized hey, I have a Twitter account! I should participate in this! And since then, 14,000 tweets later, I've learned a whole lot about Twitter that was not obvious when I first signed on that makes Twitter WAY more fun than I originally thought it was. If you'd like to have Twitter fun too, just follow these handy tips!
- So you have a Twitter account. I'm assuming as a blog reader you're familiar with signing up for accounts so we'll skip over that! Now what do you do? If, like me, you allow Twitter to import contacts from your email, you may start out following several people you already know. You'll see tweets from them in chronological order, with no discernible rhyme or reason in a static interface that you will have to manually refresh.
- This is the point where you probably lost interest in Twitter if you checked it out before. It's just a bunch of gibberish! The reason for this is that the basic Twitter page sucks, halfway on purpose, and you're supposed to use a third-party client to organize and make sense of it all, thus freeing up some load on Twitter servers, which go down a lot.
- Find a Twitter client you like. I use Twitterfall, because it has a very clean interface with no ads or sidebars, just the plain Tweets thank you very much. I can add multiple hashtags or search terms, and it has an exclude feature so I can see my timeline MINUS any annoying topics or hashtags I'm sick of hearing about. It's also customizable color-coded! So that's fun!
- Many people also swear by TweetDeck, which lets you have columns for various topics, instead of seeing all search results one after the other, in batches in the same column as Twitterfall does. There are also about a million others so just shop around!
- Most clients automatically refresh so you don't have to click anything to sit back and be entertained by a stream of new tweets. Twitterfall drops new tweets like a waterfall, while TweetDeck refreshes them in batches of several at once.
- Hashtags? Search terms? What is all this nonsense?! Okay THIS is where Twitter starts to be fun. If you have hundreds of friends, listening to them all talk randomly at once about hundreds of different topics is not actually any more fun than standing in a large auditorium listening to a chattering crowd. If you only have a few friends, nobody might tweet anything for hours at a time. Search terms and hashtags are how you communicate with EVERYONE using Twitter, millions of people from all over the world!
- In your Twitter client or on the Twitter homepage search bar, you can enter any words or phrases as search terms just like you would for Google, and you can see every recent tweet mentioning that term! You're NOT the only person in the world who likes that one obscure thing! Find the others!!
- Hashtags are like IRC chats, which is probably why they start with the pound sign #. If you're following someone, but you're not into the hashtag they're into, and your timeline is getting cluttered with tweets that bore you, it's easy to enter the offending hashtag in your client's "exclude" feature, so you won't see any tweets with it anymore. If you DO want to see ALL the posts on a hashtag from all public users in the world, simply enter it into the search box like any search term.
- Jump in and start communicating! You'll see a lot of posts with "RT," meaning they're a re-tweet of something someone else tweeted, and replies directed at you will start with @YourUsername, and that's about all you need to know! Just pop in a search term or click a trending topic, where tweets often come in at the rate of hundreds per minute, and be your best, wittiest self!
And don't forget the most important way to have fun on Twitter! Follow RevMagdalen of course!! Just exclude #IranElection from your view if you don't want to hear anything about Iran; although if you do exclude it you might miss me awesomely pwning some trolls! But to each his own, the important thing is that you end up seeing what YOU like to see on your Twitter feed! You can customize your Twitter experience to suit your exact Slack!! Praise "Bob"!