Monday, August 30, 2010

Twittering Away Your Time—Part One

I’ve found Facebook useful, but Twitter has left me baffled—until now. I’ve spent today learning everything I can about Twitter and I have to confess. I’m a definite convert! Twitter has all the community building capabilities of Facebook—in 140 character bursts. I’m going to spend the next few weeks sharing all that I’ve learned and bringing you up to speed on this misunderstood tool.

Twitter 101

Twitter is easy to join. Just visit the Twitter homepage and click on Get Started—Join. Set up your user name and password. Click I Accept then Create My Account.

At this point Twitter will ask you if you want to find friends. Come back to this option later. Instead, I suggest the order I've outlined below.

Settings are VERY important on Twitter!
Click on the Settings Tab to ensure everything is ready for visitors.
  • Enter your full name—only spammers and newbies hide their identities. You’re on Twitter to be found
  • Make sure the Time Zone field is set correctly.
  • Enter your location—again, you’re here to be found.
  • Do NOT check Protect My Updates—this negates the whole point of Tweeting.

Say Cheese!
That’s right—it’s time to upload a photo. Photos are important, spammers are known for having no photo. Personally, if you don’t have a picture and I don’t know you well, I won’t follow you. (This is a common problem for those new to Twitter and can keep you from gaining followers)
  • First click on the picture tab.
  • Browse your files and select a photo.
At this point you can click on the Design tab and do a little customization. We’ll get into advanced custom backgrounds in a later post. But there are several attractive options on Twitter.

Now that you’ve got your homepage set up it’s time to find some people to follow. You can import contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. But I choose not to. I dislike invitations to follow someone and prefer to choose whom I follow.

I recommend you take your time here. Instead of inviting everyone you know, search for some close friends/associates that you’d like to follow. Start with about 20 to get used to the feeds.

A note on etiquette here—if someone follows you, it’s considered common courtesy to follow them back. This etiquette isn’t set in stone. If you’re really not interested, don’t bother. But unless there’s a good reason NOT to follow them you should.

Common Terms
I'll leave you with an introduction to Twitter Terminology.
  • When you post something it’s called Updating Your Status or Tweeting. Michael Hyatt has the best explanation of the Twitter community I’ve ever read. He likens it to sitting in a roomful of people. Updating your status tells everyone in the room something.
  • Replying to an update answers a specific person, but everyone can hear (all your followers can see your update). You do this with the @followed by the person’s name. Example @EdieMelson. This is actually a clickable link so others can click on @EdieMelson to get to her feed.
  • A Direct Message is like whispering in someone’s ear. The message goes to them only.
  • One other term that’s important to know is Retweet. This is when you repost something someone else has tweeted.
This should be more than enough info to get you started. Next week we’ll go more in depth with how to develop communities and follow conversations. There are lots of neat and easy applications that make Twitter a valuable tool for writers.

I invite you to visit my Twitter Homepage—I’d love to become one of your followers!

Don't forget to join the conversation!

(Here's the link to part 2 and part 3 of this series)


  1. Edie - I'm not sure whether to say Thank You or NOOOOOOO! I've been avoiding Twitter for a while now, mainly because I didn't want to add anything else to an already full plate. Looks like I may have to reconsider. Thanks for the concise intro to all things Twitter!

  2. I totally agree with your first statement. I love FB and the freedom it allows to connect with friends, family, and followers of my books and speaking. But even though I have an account and try to tweet something once a day, I just can't get into Twitter!

    But I'll try again. I completed today's instructions. That's a start, right? :-)


  3. Hang in there, Ladies. You're well on your way. I'll make Twitter converts out of you yet!

  4. I joined Twitter 6 or 8 weeks ago - all by myself!! People who know me realize that is like the parting of the Red Sea. I am definitely technology challenged. In many ways, I am enjoying Twitter more than FB because I feel like I am more in control of my time on there. And...I have connected with people I would have never met otherwise. I learned quickly, though, to choose the groups of people I was looking for, like Christian authors, publishing houses, etc. I'm investigating Tweetdeck now. Mary DeMuth uses that so she can write something on Twitter and it automatically goes to FB. I think that will make it easier to build a platform for my writing.

    Thank you so much for teaching about minds, girls, open minds.


  5. Nan, that's awesome! I have to agree about Twitter - I feel like I'm much more in control and spend less time with more results. I'm glad you mentioned tweetdeck - that's one of the resources I'll be blogging about next Monday!

  6. We've enjoyed Twitter and the short messages from our followers that we retweet at times. A totally different experience than Facebook...each has their place. Keep looking for new ways to get the fullest benefit from these networks.
    On the trail,
    Steve & Janet

  7. Thanks, Edie. I appreciate your info on tweeting, since I've been doing it for a year but not paying much attention. Next stop: Tweeting Part II.

    I could sure use similar advice on Facebook. Hint, hint.

  8. Found it! I just jumped in with a comment before I looked a couple of posts down. Maybe I didn't want to see it. : ) Okay, now I have to try it, don't I?

  9. Wish I had stumbled upon this post before going onto twitter. Glad it's here for others to learn.