A beginner’s guide for online and print journalists
By Josh Shear, syracuse.com
Tweeting/Twittering: Creating a message to be sent via
Following/Unfollowing: Having someone’s messages come
straight into your Twitter stream.
@reply: Lets people know you’re having a conversation or
responding to a thread. Use @UserName for this.
DM = direct message. A private message. Use d UserName
for this (the person must be following you to see a direct
message from you).
Hashtags: Use #YourTag. More on this later.
Stream: The list of other people’s updates
Tweeps/Tweeple: Peeps/People who use Twitter.
You can follow people to read what they have to say
People can follow you to read what you have to say
It’s an exchange of ideas, if you will
Go to their Twitter page and click the follow button.
Come on, people, this is Twitter, not brain surgery.
Log in, go to their Twitter page, and use the handy
dandy little “block” button. It’s good for bosses,
parents, siblings, spouses, stalkers…you get the
You’ll get an e-mail. Unless you gave Twitter a fake e-
mail address in the first place. In which case, you’ve
only hurt yourself. Twitter has a few hundred thousand
regular users. They’re not gonna check on you. If you
want to know who’s following you, give them a real e-
mail address. That’s all.
What you should really do is read the “Who should I
follow?” slide, which is coming up next, you impatient
Friends, family and colleagues
People who write about your industry and interests
Don’t feel obligated. Seriously. If you work in a large
company, you’re not going to know most people, and
most of them aren’t that interesting (just sayin’).
You can pull aside what they’re saying in a separate
group (see the upcoming section on tools, and sorry I
keep getting ahead of myself here).
Personally, my Twitter account bears my name, not my
company’s. Therefore, it’s mine, and I’m going to
follow who I want with it. </harping>
We’re in a unique industry, and Twitter’s in roughly the
same industry we are, so following people who write
about your industry is a good networking opportunity,
and a good way to know about the evolution of what
Some industry users I’d recommend
(www.twitter.com/...): jayrosen_nyu, cshirky,
guykawasaki, whitneyhess, alanataylor, suzanneyada
NunesMagician, live315, and amanda_nan are among
those who regularly complain about the state of SU
I’m about the exact opposite of a fan-boy, so I don’t
follow any celebrities. But I know that Britney Spears,
John Mayer, MC Hammer (seriously), Ryan Seacrest
and Shaq are all on Twitter.
OK, I’ll admit it. I followed Hammer for a bit. He’s a
smart dude, writes a lot about Amber Alerts, parenting
and that kind of stuff.
Start going through the lists of who the people you’re
following are following. You might find new
Also, I like Twubble (crazybob.org/twubble) for
recommending new people based on who you’re
following (requires your Twitter user name and
password, but it’s safe)
Also, if you see someone writing about something
interesting, try following them for a while.
Some people follow back everyone who follows them.
Which is why some people are following 11,000 people
or more. They’re not reading everybody. Promise.
Feel no obligation to follow someone back. If they
can’t take the rejection, they shouldn’t be on Twitter.
Go to their Twitter page and click on the spot where
you’re following them. You’ll be asked to confirm that
you want to remove them.
If they’re using a service like Qwitter (useqwitter.com),
it will e-mail them, and tell them what the last thing
they said before you unfollowed them.
Only narcissists and people who make money from
having followers care if you unfollowed them.
You should use Qwitter (useqwitter.com) to find out if
someone unfollowed you
Use twitter.grader.com to find out how you rank
among other narcissists (I’m in the top 2.5% of
narcissists at this writing).
Use twitalyzer.com to measure your impact. I’m slowly
developing, but most of clout is growing.
Use twitterank.com to measure how popular you are.
I’m something like 76th percentile, so I’m not
hermitting well enough for my tastes.
FTW! = For The Win!
FAIL = something failed
OTOH = On the other hand…
OH = Overheard
OHAW/OHAO/OHATO = Overheard at work/at the
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion.
Note: You’re on Twitter giving your opinion. This is
pretty much the opposite of humble. Just an FYI there.
Hashtags are the accepted way to aggregate
information using hashtags.org, search.twitter.com or
other places (via RSS)
Follow Twitter user hashtags to have your tags
recognized for hashtags.org.
Use #tag as a format. Examples might be #ica09 for a
conference, #superbowlads for Super Bowl ads, etc.
We aggregate #cny and #syracuse at
syracuse.com/twitter, using a reblog
Some hashtags aren’t actually hashtags. They’re just
someone being a jackass. You’ll recognize it quickly.
Twitter allows 140 characters, but some URLs are really
long. I prefer http://is.gd as a URL shortener; some
people use others. You’ll see them in your stream.
Facebook offered Twitter $500 million for a buyout. Twitter
told Facebook to go screw. Facebook’s new design is kinda
like Twitter, except threaded. Coincidence? I think not.
Twitter can updatee your Facebook status – either all your
tweets (apps.facebook.com/twitter) or select ones via a #fb
Fear not. Here are some better ways to read Twitter:
Twitterfox: A browser-based plug-in for Firefox.
Twhirl: A standalone application. It’s losing market
share because it’s only pretty good.
Tweetdeck: Everyone loves Tweetdeck. Seriously. If
you’re not looking specifically for a browser-based
solution, use Tweetdeck. You can sort by groups,
search for stuff and all that jazz.
Note: Tweetdeck is not paying me. Maybe they should.
@reply them and tell them so.
Twitter has an OK mobile site at m.twitter.com. I
prefer it for reading, but not for tweeting.
Text: If you set up your mobile in “Devices” under
“Settings,” you can tweet via SMS – just remember you
have a 140-character limit, not 160.
Blackberry: I suggest using Twitterberry. It’s good, not
great, but keeps improving as it goes (it’s not even at
version 1.0 yet). Check out orangatame.com for more
iPhone: People seem to prefer Twitterific, although
there are multiple apps.
Twitter is open to developers. All kinds of people are
making all kinds of applications. Check them out, see
if you like them. If you do, be sure to pass them along
so I can benefit from your action, despite my laziness.
I tell people to think of Twitter like a river. It’s always
there, and always moving. You’re never going to see all
of it. Ever. And it’s never going to be exactly the same
when you see it the next time. Ever. Just see what’s
there while you’re looking at it, and if there’s selected
content you want to look up, you can go back and
either search for it, or look at the page of the user
whose tweets you want to read.
Seriously, people. I’m interesting, helpful, and a
narcissist. Follow me at twitter.com/Josh_Shear.