By now – you’ve heard of Twitter. If you’re like my friends – you inevitably ask ‘why would I use Twitter’?. I also get a lot of people who tell me after they open an account that they don’t “get it”. So – I’m going to give you some reasons why you should use twitter, and I’ll also attempt to help you ‘get it’. It definitely isn’t for everyone – but once you get into it it’s fairly addictive. There are some business & work applications as well, so maybe you’ll find a reason to use Twitter as well. Please give your own 2 cents in the comments.
Here’s a quick & dirty look at Twitter… but before I get started – feel free to follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/blizzle
Why Should I Use Twitter?
- Keep in touch with your friends. Whether you stub your toe, beat your top score on pac man, or you just ate the best mac & cheese of your entire life – send it to Twitter & share it with your friends…
- Make it easier to spend time with each other. Feel like heading out to happy hour and want some company? Say so on Twitter. If you and your friends use Twitter and get SMS (text message) updates from each other on your phone – you’ll have company in no time
- Hook Twitter up to your personal blog and automatically let your followers know when you make a new blog post. (I explain how to do this below)
- Find & follow some of the thought leaders in your field. You’ll learn a lot about your industry and how to do your job better
- Find & follow co-workers & colleagues. Build rapport, ask & answer questions, send around links, find out about what projects they’re working on, etc…
- Twitter is pretty effective for advertising upcoming events & promotions, sending around links, etc
- Build a company profile & update it with notifications about your company “news”
- Hook Twitter up to your blog and automatically let followers know every time you add a new blog post (explained below)
Using Twitter – A Few Cool Things to Do
SMS (text messages)
Twitter gives you the option of sending & receiving ‘tweets’ on your cell phone. This is my preferred method for using twitter. I have twitter in my phone’s contacts and I can send a tweet as a text message whenever I feel like it. However, I only choose to get tweets from a very small set of people. When you choose to follow someone, you can choose whether to get their updates on your device. You can turn them off at any time.
You can add the Twitter application (apps.facebook.com/twitter/) to your Facebook account and make it so Twitter automatically updates your Facebook Status…
There are tools that let you post to Twitter every time you add a post to your blog.
- If you use WordPress – there’s a plugin called TwitterTools that allows you to easily make a Twitter update every time you write a blog post. You can also create blog posts from each of your tweets…
- If you don’t use WordPress, or if you aren’t comfortable with adding & configuring plugins, you can use a 3rd party tool like TwitterFeed – you just tell them few things about your twitter account and your blog and it will update Twitter for you.
Tips for Using Twitter
There are a ton of Twitter apps – find one you like: http://twitter.pbwiki.com/Apps
Twitter on Your Desktop
If you ask me – you NEED a desktop application so you don’t have to log in to twitter or go to the Web site to post.
- Twitterriffic: simple desktop app for the Mac. Can also get it for the iPhone & iPod touch.
- TweetDeck: take twitter functionality to another level. If you follow a lot of people and want to be able to put your fellow tweeps into groups – this app is for you.
- TwitterFox: Use FireFox for your browser? This little extension integrates Twitter with your browser. Note however that this probably slows down your browser.
Twitter on your Phone
Personally I just use Twitter’s own SMS feature to get text messages from a select few friends & colleagues. I also use text to post new status updates to Twitter. But that’s what works for me. If you’ve got a smart phone, there are Twitter apps of all kinds for mobile.
If you become a Twitter fanatic – these will help you manage Twitter and all your followers.
- UseQwitter.com: know who quits following you
- FriendorFollow: know who’s following you but you aren’t following back… and vice versa – who you’re following but isn’t following you back.
- Twuffer: write a tweet now (or series of tweets), but schedule it to post to Twitter at a later day/time.
Publicize the Fact That You Are On Twitter
Twitter.com/Badges – display twitters on myspace, blogger, facebook, typepad & more
And One Final Twitter Tip (OK – It’s a Pet Peeve)
If you’re starting a twitter account, please fill out your profile information. I get notices all the time that say something like “jbx325 is now following you on twitter.” Obviously I wonder who it is – so I click through to look at their profile and there’s no posts, no URL, a tiny picture and no information to help me figure out who jbx325 is. Put some sort of identifying information on your profile so I can figure out who you are
UPDATE – 6/8/09
We added a blog post from SMX Advanced Seattle 2009 where I give a bunch of links to Twitter tools & included some Twitter session notes.