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February 06, 2009

What Is Twitter and How To Use It

February 06, 2009
Chances are you've heard of Twitter. Also, there's probably a good chance you have no idea what it is or how to use it. Maybe you even have an account but never log in since nothing seems to be happening there when you do. Why is everyone talking about Twitter? What's the big deal? Hopefully this blog will help.

Bottom line: Twitter is a service that lets people communicate instantaneously in a group environment. Basically it's an information superhighway between you and your friends, peers and a select group of total strangers. You can use it to research, network, provide customer support, chat with friends, get news updates and much more.

Getting Started:

Don't sign up expecting, like Facebook, to suddenly be awash in content. Chances are you will see no activity on your page at all unless you put it there.

Next use a couple features to find your friends and associates already using Twitter. I suggest http://twitter.com/invitations and search.twitter.com for starters. The first to find people you know and the second to find people interested in similar things.

Now that you are following some people you will find that they will start following you back. This is a good thing, don't panic. Post something like "Hey I'm new here, hello everyone!" to dip your toe in the communal Twitter pool.

At this point you will see a stream of updates on your page. You will also notice that you are hitting "refresh" on your browser regularly to see the updates. Time to download some software to make this experience a little more user friendly.

I recommend TweetDeck for managing your Twitter account. It will let you easily follow your account via a desktop application. It also greatly facilitates advanced functionality that you will need shortly. More about that below.

So, you have TweetDeck up and running now. It should look a little like this.

Now you can post updates and join in the conversation. You are limited to 140 characters so be concise when posting.

Next Twitter blog will be tips on some dos and don'ts, stay tuned!

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