Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Twitter for Beginners - Part Two

So, following Twitter for Beginners - Part one I'm moving onto part two...

One of the many things I like about Twitter is that we're all still learning and over the last year or so, a number of companies have proved this by doing some questionable things on Twitter. My favourite (which I had to add my 2 cents to) was Super Liquor's Twt4Turkey campaign which I think was flawed, and which they refused to apologise for, they simply kept making excuses.

Thing is, because we're all still learning, the Twitter community is quite forgiving. Put your hand up, admit the mistake and move on. For example, yesterday, writing my blog about Twitter I was corrected on one of the terms I used - so I corrected my post; I acknowledged I was wrong and moved on.

The nice thing about making mistakes, it means your learning.

So, how to interact with Twitter in a way that will make it as easy as possible to include Twitter into your life.

Don't use the web to run Twitter. Use a Twitter client. There are lots of Twitter clients that you can use: Seesmic, Chromed Bird (to run on Chrome), Brizzly, and many more no doubt, but my favourite is Tweetdeck.

So when you first download Tweetdeck and connect your account, you are going to see 3 or so columns: 'All Friends', 'Mentions' and 'Direct Messages'. All friends is your feed of all the people that you follow, mentions are when another Twitterer is talking to, similarly with direct messages.

Quick side note on using Twitter:
People can talk directly to you. An @ reply (this is when you use an @ symbol directly in front of a username without a space) is a conversation between one (or many) Twitterer/s and you. Please be aware that if you @ reply to someone, any of your followers who follow both you and the person you're talking to, will get your conversation in their Twitter feed. If you want the conversation to remain private, use a direct message.

EDIT (3/5): If you want to @ reply someone when in Tweetdeck, mouse over their avatar (the picture) and click on the curved arrow - it will automatically put the @username in the text field. Sorry - that was probably an important piece of information I left out. Similarly, for a direct message, when hovering over the avatar, click on the icon that looks like an envelope. This will have a D in front of the username.

So this is what my tweetdeck looks like:

The 2 right hand columns show the way I filter Twitter. When you start to follow a large number of people the tweets can come thick and fast, so you need a way to make sure that you see information that is relevant to you without having to read every single tweet that comes through. So you set up lists:

So I have public lists nz-digital and nz-adagency. Anyone can follow these lists. The other lists, are just for me. There is a grab a seat list (so that i can get immediate notification of grabaseat deals) friends list (for Twitterers that I know personally) then the rest of my lists are separated by topic, food & drink, fashion & magazines and music. These allow me to get a snap shot of what is happening rather than searching for information.

It all looks a little like this:
And within the settings function you can decide what kind of alerts you receive from tweetdeck as per below:

This means that when I get a 'mention', 'direct message' or someone from my 'friends' list tweets - I get a detail notification box:

For all other tweets, I get a summary:

It lets me know at a glance what is coming through and can alert me to things I might want to look at more closely.

Personally, I think that a Twitter client is the only way to absorb and utilise Twitter efficiently. People often ask "how do you have time for Twitter" but the thing is, once this is all set up, I would estimate Twitter takes up less than half an hour out of my entire day. That includes checking Twidroid on my phone on the way to work, whilst at work - which includes checking my search lists (will cover this in part three) - and once I get home. Really, honestly, not that much time.

Right, so I have covered setting up an account and how to use a Twitter client to make Twitter easier, part three I will cover off tweeting photos, short URLs, Retweets, searches and I will tell you why people do want to know what you had for lunch...

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