Twitter is a microblogging site where you post 140 characters at a time. I’ve written 100-word stories, 100,000-word novels, blog posts of various word counts, but anything that can be said in 140 characters or less almost doesn’t seem to be worth saying, so I’m having a hard time finding a home in the Twitosphere (or do I mean the Twitterverse?). Still, I am learning a few things about this twitterish world. Here are the top five things I’ve learned:
1. Tagging your tweets. You add tags to your tweets by using hash marks. For example, when I tweet this post, if I add #twitter to my tweet, people who are interested in finding out who is tweeting Twitter can search for #twitter, and discover all recent posts with that hash mark. (Okay, so you already knew that. But this is a post about things I’ve learned, and for some reason, that basic bit of twitia passed me by.)
2. Twit chats. #writechat is a group of writers who meet every Sunday on Twitter from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm PT. You don’t need an invitation to join the discussion. (Well, maybe you do, but I crashed the party and no one complained.) All you have to do is go to your Twitter account and search for #writechat. Or you can start your own discussion group. Pick a name, add a hash mark, tell a few friends, and there you are, master of your own twit chat.
3. Trending topics. On the right sidebar of your Twitter home page, there is a list of trends. These trends are topics that are currently popular (as in right-this-very-minute popular) and are compiled from the most retweeted tweets, mostly news items. Twitterers think that they are tweeting non-mainstream news, that they are in the vanguard of a rebellion against traditional news sources, but as it turns out, the most retweeted twits and tweets come from the major media via their followers.
4. Friend or follow. Some twits like to follow everyone to get a huge following, and after you have followed them because you really don’t know what you’re doing and so you follow everyone who follows you, these twits unfollow you. Don’t you feel used? Well, no. Because you didn’t know they unfollowed you. Twitter sends you a message when someone follows you, but they don’t care if anyone unfollows you. So, here’s where you even the score: go to Friend or Follow, fill in your Twitter user name, and wait for the results. They might surprise you. You can easily unfollow your unfollowers from the site.
5. Clean your twits. Sometimes you end up with spammers or people you thought were your friends but who tweet a hundred times a day. Or you end up with a whole stream of multi-level marketers. Here’s an easy way of telling who is who. Go to: Twit Cleaner, fill in the information requested, and you get a whole list of unsweet tweeters with dodgy behavior such as those who tweet only links, those who only retweet other’s tweets, those who tweet the same links over and over again.
The main problem with cleaning your twits is that you end up with a huge discrepancy between the number of those who follow you and those you follow, and Twitter frowns on that. But whose Twitter is this? The way I figure, it’s better to follow fewer followers and get to know them, than to follow all who follow you and be inundated with the same twiddly stuff over and over again.
I’d planned to end this blog with a refutation of my bad report — Twit Cleaner told me I was guilty of dodgy behavior, that my tweets were mostly links. I was going to say that if people wanted to unfollow me because I tweeted too many links, then that is fine with me since if they’re not interested in what I tweet, they are of no use to me. Unfortunately, I just got a new report from The Twit Cleaner. They said “You’re awesome! Not very much to improve here. You’re basically already pretty great. Keep being your wonderful self.”
Thank you. I will.