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What is Twitter?

March 30, 2009

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I admit it, I’m addicted to Twitter! It’s a disease that can’t be cured!  From the time I get up in the morning, to the time I go to bed at night, I find myself continually being pulled to my blue little friend like a person on a diet is drawn to chocolate cream pie!

My family is quite ready for an intervention.  “Why do you like Twitter so much?” they say.  “Because I get to learn what’s going on with my followers,” I reply.  “What’s a follower?” they ask.  My husband is concerned, “There’s a bunch of men who are following you!” “No, it’s not like that at allWhy don’t you get your own Twitter account and find out?” I say.  “No,” he says, “I’ve seen what it’s done to you!”

Social Media has many names and platforms including Facebook, MySpace, Linked-Inand more, but not since the dawn of AOL’s “You’ve got mail” email account,   has one form of social media taken America by such a huge storm as the fantastically popular application known as “Twitter.”

For those of you who are like my family and not quite up on this new technology, Twitter is a free social messaging utility that people use to keep in touch with each other in real time through short little 140 character messages called “tweets.”  It was invented by a couple of guys in San Francisco in March of 2006.

In order to Twitter you must first sign up for a free account at Twitter.com.  Then you need to set up your profile.   This includes your user name (mine is 23Kazoos), real name, location, email, website, and a short 140 character bio.  When you reply to a user name on Twitter, the @ sign is used before the name.  So to reply to me on Twitter you would use @23Kazoos.

You can post an “avatar” or small photo of yourself as well as customize your Twitter profile background in the “settings” tab.

After your profile is made, then you can follow people or wait for them to follow you. You can follow friends, family members, celebrities, and even brand names.  Neil Diamond, Justin Timberlake and John McCain use Twitter, so does Starbucks, McDonalds, and JetBlue.  The music artist John Mayer is said to be on Twitter so much that it caused his girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston to break up with him!

You can find people to follow by name; such as Brittney Spears, by interest; such as blogging, and even by location; such as Phoenix, AZ, by using the “Find People” tab on Twitter, or by using Twitter’s co-sites such as Twello, Just Tweet It, or Mr. Tweet.

Having a number of people who follow you or “followers” on Twitter is a sign of popularity.  And most people think that if having a few followers is good, having a huge number of followers is even better.  Ellen Degenerous (@theellenshow) declared that she wanted to get up to one million followers in one day!  She didn’t quite make it, but she came close with over 300,000 followers in one month.  Note; if someone follows you, it’s courteous to follow them back.

You can tweet from your desktop, your i-phone, your blackberry, your laptop.  You can tweet on the go, at work, and even in congress! With an estimated 6 million unique users and counting, it seems like “everyone” is doing it!  A look of some of the most popular tweets on Twitter will bring up names like Barack Obama, Arnold Schwartzenegger, PDiddy, Martha Stewart, and the Real Shaquille O’Neal.

Twitter is the place where news is reported first.  When pilot “Scully” landed the bird-crippled airplane on the Hudson River, in January of 2009, saving himself and all 155 occupants, the first photo came via TwitPic from one of the passengers.

The media uses Twitter to get the scoop.  When seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong’s bike was stolen, he posted a picture of it, and the message on Twitter first.  Later on, when the bike was found, through the help of Twitter, Armstrong’s followers were the first to know.

People tweet about what they are doing and where they are at.  Shaquille O’Neal likes to tweet about where he is and give away Phoenix Suns game tickets to the first of his followers who find him.

People tweet about their business, their family, their life, and generally whatever is on their minds.  However, there are some “unwritten” rules about the “right” way to use Twitter.  For example, remember that anything you tweet is on the Internet forever and can be used against you.  One guy found that out the hard way when he tweeted about how much he didn’t like his new job at a certain company.  That certain company was on Twitter too…Ooops.  So be careful what you tweet about.  You also don’t want to tweet too much personal stuff, like “I’m going out of town for 2 weeks, house key under the mat!”

The general idea is to be positive, tweet enough about yourself so that people get to know you, but don’t be too personal.  Don’t be negative either.  If you are a negative tweeter, you’ll find yourself losing followers.  Another rule is that if you’re a business, it’s bad manners to be tweeting about your business all the time like some used car salesman.  Nothing turns followers off faster than that.

Twitter is a relatively new social media application that has taken the world by storm.  But in order to understand what it really is, you’ve got to try it yourself.  So log on to Twitter.com and get set up, and don’t forget to follow me at @23Kazoos.com.

Wendy Nelson Kenney is the crazed creator of 23Kazoos.com, an organic marketing company that teaches business owners how to build buzz for their business through social media, public relations, and new marketing. She can be reached at Buzz@23Kazoos.com or you can follow her on Twitter at @23Kazoos.com

If you like this post, feel free repost on your blog or on Twitter, giving credit where credit is due and a link back to this website.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2009 2:12 am

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. March 30, 2009 2:30 pm

    Hi Wendy,

    Glad to see you pursuing this dream with 23Kazoos. More importantly, being a voice for the understanding of the business model for Twitter and other social media. With your permission I am going to trackback to you from my blog at http://www.salesquawk.com to help people understand this machine and why it is so important.

    I hope to write something on the intense value of Twitter as a sort of “index” to the rest of the interactive world. Referring my readers to you will be an enormous service to their understanding of what Twitter is and why it is important.

    Warmest regards,
    Michael D. Goodman
    http://www.AzSalesPros.com

  3. dsnetworkaz permalink
    March 30, 2009 11:41 pm

    Great post! Now it all makes sense!

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