Tweet about it6/5/2013
Every so often I catch myself getting a little too “inside baseball” when it comes to talking tech. Understanding how to use an application or website is not innate, and if one service reminds us of this over and over it’s Twitter. Even though Twitter has been around for seven years, and more than 200 million users are on the service, still nearly all users have the same reaction when preparing to write their first tweet: “How do I use this thing?”
My employers, best friends, parents and wife have been mystified by the social network, and if I’m being honest, so was I at first. What is a tweet? Who sees it? How do people respond to it?
First, the basics: Twitter is a micro-blogging service where users publish 140-character-length posts called “tweets” in a public or private manner for followers and the general public to read. Once users sign up, they create a username, start following people and organizations and communicate with others by posting tweets that include usernames and links.
Whereas Facebook is akin to a walled-off garden where only you and your friends can post and comment on pooled status updates, pictures, videos and other shared content, Twitter is a public playground where virtually anyone can communicate with any other fellow tweeter, friends or not. Want to let the President know your opinion and have the world know you’re sharing it with him? Then Twitter’s the place.
Once you are signed up and are following a few people and organizations and have perhaps even posted a couple tweets, the next question that emerges is, “What are Hashtags, and what’s with the @ symbol?”
Hashtags are embedded, click-enabled tags in tweets, prefixed with the # symbol, which allow for users to connect posts to a topic. They’re free, and anyone can create them. So creating a hashtag for the topic “polar bears” looks like: #polarbears. The @ symbol is like dialing a user’s phone number. Want to tweet directly to Cityview? Just throw @dmcityview in your next tweet. Just remember Twitter is a public forum, so any lewd pictures sent can be seen by practically anyone. Save those for IM (instant message). CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.