Author Topic: To Twitter ... or not to Twitter  (Read 6495 times)

Offline Mark Austin

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To Twitter ... or not to Twitter
« on: June 12, 2009, 10:07:18 AM »
To Twitter ... or not to Twitter    8)

Everyone is talking about Twitter. You may already be an expert on Twitter, or you may not know anything about Twitter. If you belong to the latter group, here's a quick guide on starting your own Twitter account.

First, go the Twitter website by going to http://www.Twitter.com

Next, click on the “Join For Free” link to start creating your account.
 
I do suggest using your real name on Twitter if you are comfortable with doing that, or another name that represents your brand, website or blog so that people can easily identify who you are when they are scouting for new friends to follow.

Once you have created your account you will be able to log into your user center immediately.

The first thing you should do is create your Twitter profile, which is visible by anyone who follows you, as well as the general public who locate you via the search box.  To begin, click on the “Settings” link in the navigation bar on the top right corner of your Twitter account. On the profile page you see various options including “Account, Password, Devices, Notices, Picture and Design”. 

Click on the Account tab, which might have loaded on default when you clicked on settings a moment ago. If this is the case, once you see the account profile page you should take a few minutes to go over the various options and fill out your account information.

This includes:

Name: Once again, I suggest entering in your real name so that people can easily recognize who you are.

Username: Whatever you choose here will become part of your unique Twitter link that directs people to your front page so they can choose to follow you or read your current updates.

Example: http://www.Twitter.com/JonQPublic

Since your username is part of your twitter link, choose carefully!

Email Address:  Enter in a valid email address. This will not be visible to your followers, however whenever Twitter receives a message for you via their online private message form, or if they have news and special announcements to make, these notices will be sent to this email address.

Time Zone:  Select the time zone applicable to your location. This is important if you want to read notices according to your actual time.

More Info URL: This link will appear on your profile page so be sure to choose a valid URL that will direct people to your website or blog.  In addition, this area provides a “do follow” link, meaning that it will count as a quality back-link to your website and help with Search Engine Optimization.

Online Bio:  Write a few lines that describe who you are and what you do.  Your bio page is limited to only 160 characters, so be sure to be as direct as you can, describing your skills, your occupation or your website.

Location:  You can choose to leave this blank or enter in your country or city. 

Language:  Choose your preferred language.  Twitter offers the ability to translate the entire website in either English or Japanese at this time.

The last option on the account page is whether or not you wish to protect your updates. If you select to keep your updates private, only people that you have manually approved will be able to follow your updates, and your posts will not appear in the public timeline, which is a general page showing recent twitter updates.

If you plan to use Twitter to promote your websites, blog and general activity, you will want to leave this box un-checked.

The next tab on the top is marked “Password”. If you ever wish to update your password for security purposes, this Is where you would do it. For now, let’s click on “Devices” to customize that area of your Twitter account.

Twitter Mobile

Twitter offers the ability to receive updates via your cell phone or through Instant Messenger such as gTalk.  If you want to try this out, you will need to enter in your mobile telephone number into the first option box and save it to your account.

You can use Twitter mobile regardless where you live, but you need to ensure that you add your country code with your direct number.  Since each phone number has a specific country code depending where you are located, you will need to locate it prior to entering it into your account area.

You can visit the following site for help locating your country code:
http://www.consumer.att.com/global/english/country_codes.html

Once you have entered in your mobile number, you will need to confirm it before you can receive mobile updates. The verification code will be sent to your phone number, and you will need to enter it into the site before your phone is activated and permitted to receive these updates. This is done to ensure that you are the actual owner of the telephone number you enter into the system.

You should also check with your service provider to determine what charges will be applied, if any, to your account for sending or receiving Twitter updates.

Tweet Via Instant Message

You can also choose to receive messages via Instant messenger, although at this time Twitter only offers this option to users of Gtalk (Googles’ Instant Messenger System), Live Journal and Jabber.

If you wish to add your Instant messenger to the list, you can do this from the “Devices” section of your Twitter account. For GTalk, you simply enter in your GTalk username.

Once you do this, a special code will appear on your twitter account page.   You will need to log into your Gtalk account to verify this before you can receive tweets this way.

To sign up for Gtalk, visit: http://www.Google.com/talk

The download software for Gtalk is currently only available to PC users, however Mac subscribers can use the online chat gadget via the web based application, although the features are a bit limited.

GTalk is also fully integrated with your gMail account, which means that whenever you log into your email account you can see who is online as well as instant message these users.

The other two options for Instant Messaging via Twitter is via Live Journal and Jabber, both available below:

http://www.LiveJournal.com
http://www.Jabber.com

Customizing Your Twitter Communication

Click on the “Devices” link from the profile page in your Twitter account to customize your notices.

The first option you will see is the ability to receive nudges if you fail to update your twitter account with a new tweet within 24 hours.  If you click on the check-box, Twitter will send you out a notice, reminding you to update your twitter with a new status message to keep your updates current.

These nudges are sent via a text message to your cell phone or a regular message through your Instant Messenger service.

You will also see the option to display replies to your twitter updates as well as tweets between people on your list.

Here is what the three available options mean:

@ Replies to the people I’m following

This means that you will receive replies from people that you personally follow, as long as the person they are talking to is also someone that you follow.

For instance, if you have two people on your list, Linda and Thomas and they message one another directly on Twitter, you will be able to see messages going between the two users, since you are following both of these people.

Always: All Replies

This option is for those who wish to receive updates from everyone you follow even if they are directed at someone that you currently do not follow.

Never:  No Replies

If you choose this option, you will not receive replies from those you follow, or those that they follow. According to Twitter, this option is for those who are looking for minimal interaction in the Twitter community. In other words, you are slightly anti-social ?

Once you have decided what option is best for you, select it from the drop down list.

The next option in your “Notices” section is to choose whether to receive specific Twitter based emails including:

Receiving emails whenever someone starts following you. I recommend turning this off, unless you want to receive a ton of email each time someone adds you to their list.

Receiving Emails When You Receive a direct message. Twitter will email you each time someone directly messages you via the Twitter update system.  By default, this is turned off but if you would like to receive notification which may make it easier to stay up to date with current tweets, you can ebale this option.

The final option is to choose whether you wish to subscribe to the Twitter newsletter, an ezine that goes out once in awhile with Twitter updates, current feature add-ons and upcoming releases.

If you want to stay on top of what the team at Twitter is up to, this is where you will opt to receive their mailings.

Note: The newsletters will be sent to the email address that you entered into your profile, so be sure that this is a valid email address and that you have added Twitter to your whitelist (or check your spam folder from time to time to ensure that it didn’t end up there, especially if you use Gmail.com)

Click “Save” to maintain your changes.

To complete your profile, you should click on the “Picture” tab and upload either an avatar that represents you and your website, or a personal photo of yourself. The more personable you are on Twitter, the more people will follow you, and therefore the more exposure your business will receive, so don’t overlook this option.

One thing I have noticed from my activity on Twitter is that those who choose to use a colorful, interesting or different avatar capture my attention easier than just a basic photo, since using something different will help you stand out, so keep this in mind when you are uploading an image to represent yourself.

The last option in your settings is called “Design”, and in this area you are able to customize your Twitter profile page to look however you like, with restrictions. At the time of this writing you are able to change only the color scheme and upload a new background image to your Twitter account.

From twitter profile designers, to ready-made templates that you can manually customize, there is no shortage of options available.

For your reference, here are a few to help you get started:

http://www.mytweetspace.com/
http://www.twitterimage.com/
http://www.BrandableTweets.com
http://www.tweetstyle.com

You can play around with the settings in there if you wish to customize it a bit or leave it as default, if you wish.

Just be sure to preview your design before you choose to keep it just to be certain that your updates appear correctly, and that you aren’t using a text color that makes it difficult to read.

Unfortunately, there is no way to check the design prior to saving it, so you will have to make your changes, save it, look it over and go back to the design editing section if you want to change things again or revert back to the original default design.
 
Twitter Commands

From your main profile page, when you are logged into your Twitter account, you will see the text box at the very top. This is where you enter in your updates that are visible to your followers or are added to the general timeline, if you enabled that setting earlier. 

Whenever you wish to send out an update to everyone you just enter it into this text box and click the UPDATE button.  Your current activity will be posted instantly and you will be able to see it below, along with the updates from others.

However, if you wish to direct a post to a specific Twitter user, you will use the @ command. This will still show your message to everyone who follows you, however it will be evident that it is directed to a specific user in the timeline.

For example, if I wanted to send the user Marty-Minor a message, I would write the following into the twitter update box:

@Suzie-Q Hi, how are you doing? Long time, no talk!

The @ symbol is placed directly in front of the username of the person you are attempting to message. 

There are no spaces between this symbol and their username, however there is a space after the username, before you type in the rest of your message.

You can do the same thing from your mobile phone if you have activated it via your Twitter settings. Simple send an SMS message to number: 40404, which is Twitters default number. Since your Twitter account has been previously associated with your cellular number, any messages sent from you will be posted under your account, and the system will instantly recognize you.

If using your Instant Messenger to send out tweets, you simply send a message to twitter@twitter.com if you are using Jabber or gTalk and it will post it accordingly since once again, you have associated these specific chat programs to your Twitter account from within your Twitter accounts’ settings area.

Remember though, that each time you send out a tweet this way, every follower on your list will be able to see your messages and updates on their own Twitter account page.

There are other commands that you should know if you plan to use Twitter. For example, if you wish to contact someone privately, Twitter allows you to reach out to them using the Direct command.  Simply enter in d username message and users will receive your ping if they have enabled direct messages on their mobile phone or Instant Messenger account.

Example:  If I wanted to contact a person who I am following, or who is following me directly, I would write:

d johndoe how are you doing?

The letter ‘d’ represents ‘Direct” and the message will be sent directly to the username I specify in my message.

If you decide to use twitter with your mobile phone or Instant Messaging system, you have additional options available to you including the ability to receive phone updates from specific users by using the follow command.

Follow janedoe

Typing this into your Instant Messenger system will ensure that you receive updates and alerts from ‘janedoe’ (replace this with an actual username of someone on your list).

If you wish to disable receiving updates from a specific user you use the off ‘leave’ command like this:

leave janedoe

And you will no longer receive tweets to your phone or Instant Messenger from janedoe.

You can explore all of the different Twitter lingo commands by visiting: http://www.Twitter.com/help/lingo

In addition to the options available to those who use Twitter mobile or Instant Messenger, you should get familiar with the commands used on the actual twitter website, whenever you plan to post an update or wish to direct a message to a specific user.

As mentioned earlier, if you wish to reply to someone publically, where your message will be visible by all but highlighted to the person you are directing your message to, you use the @username command:

@janedoe Hi! How are you?  Love the blog design!

However, there are other commands that you can type directly into the Twitter update text box from your account, such as if you wanted to retrieve the profile information for a specific user on Twitter you use the WHOIS command:

whois janedoe

And information pertaining to this specific user will be displayed provided they have included a Twitter profile.

When you enter in a WHOIS request, into the Twitter update box, the users information will appear instantly right above the text box but will disappear in a few minutes, so be sure to pay attention to the information before it’s gone.

If you don’t want to know everything that is contained in a specific Twitter users profile, and you just want to know what they are currently doing, you can enter in the GET command to retrieve their most recent update:

get janedoe

This will load an info box with their current status message.

If someone hasn’t updated their Twitter status in awhile and you wish to remind them, you can send out a nudge which will prompt the user to log into their Twitter account and post a status update.

You nudge someone by typing in:

nudge username

Quite simple, really!

And finally, if you really enjoy a specific users updates you can add them as a favorite by entering in:

fav username

This will make the users last update as a favorite, and also save them for you under the “Favorites” link in your stats area on your main page. At the time I have no favorites selected. If I sent out the fav command after seeing a specific users update, my stats area would change to reflect and store that favorite tweet.

If you wish to remove a stored favorite, just click on the “Favorites” link and you will see the tweet, along with the username of the person and a yellow star under their post.

Click on the star icon to de-activate and remove the favorite. You also have the option of contacting this user directly from this area by clicking on the arrow icon.

BorWhenever you post an update on Twitter, it instantly gets broadcasted via the community wall visible to everyone who is following you.  The downfall to these messages, known as ‘tweets’ is that they are limited to only 140 characters which can make it difficult to get your message across with clarity.

To work around this, you will see many marketers simply posting a short ‘tweet’ and include a URL to their website or blog so people who are interested are able to follow the link to find out more information.

Part of the reason for limiting the messages to only 140 characters is due to the feature that Twitter offers where users can have these messages sent as a single SMS alert. 

You can also post messages on Twitter that only specific users or individual Twitter members can see, or you can choose to make your twitter broadcasts available to the entire community, which means that anyone can see your messages and subscribe to follow you and keep up to date on what you are doing.

Remember that every tweet you send out is readable by everyone following you, so focus your attention on sending out general news and updates regarding your websites, projects, new releases, products and services or just cool websites that you come across, and always remember to use Twitter-Netiquette by not spamming out tweets and finding a good balance between keeping your updates fresh and current without looking like you are begging for attention.

Keep your tweets interesting and don’t focus just on self-promotion but instead, provide a personal glimpse into your life by including every-day tasks, and interesting tidbits that people may otherwise never know when doing business with you.

Twitter is a great (and easy) way to market your websites, if you do it properly.

Multiple Twitter Accounts

If you own multiple websites, or you are part of a network you might considering opening up two twitter accounts, one that is used just by you, and one that is used by your team to post updates regarding your products and services. 

Since Twitter is a great way to communicate and establish or promote an online presence for your website or business, posting updates as often as possible is a great way to keep people informed and generate new business from people who choose to follow you, after seeing your updates on their friends Twitter pages.

Using two accounts is also useful if you want to promote your personal ventures on your own Twitter account (personal blogs, etc) or using this account just to chat with family and friends.

With your second Twitter account you could keep it all about business, adding only people you network with, share similar business interests, or wish to promote your services to.

People have done this with Facebook when they wanted to keep their friends and family separate from their business contacts, since with Facebook your family connections are visible to anyone on your list, including how you are related or know the person. 

While Twitter is much easier to use than Facebook (and very small in comparison the many features of the Facebook network), managing two accounts might be something worth considering if you run businesses in various niche markets where you may not wish to disclose to your competition.

Twitter Controls

From the main page of your Twitter account, you will see a grey tab bar that displays “Recent”, “Replies”, “Archive” and “Everyone”. 

Here is what each of these areas mean:

Recent:
Displays the latest status updates from users that you are following and keeping up to date with. Each tweet/message shows their username, their message and when it was posted along with how they posted the update (whether it was via their mobile, instant messenger, via the web or using a Twitter update program). If you post an update, your message will also appear in the “Recent” section.

Replies:
These are messages directed to you by other Twitter users who have used the @yourname command.  This makes it easy to stay on track with who has directed messages to you personally, in case you missed the message when it was originally posted.

Archive:
This area displays an archive of all of your past and current tweets. You can remove any update message that you ever sent through the Twitter system from this area by clicking on the trash can icon. You can also star your own favorite updates.

Everyone:
This shows you a variety of updates from users on Twitter, even from people you are not currently following or who you are following you. This is another easy way to find people that are interesting or related to your market.

Twitter Tracking

If you would like to receive updates that contain specific keywords, Twitter now provides this option.  All you need to do is enter in the command ‘track’ and your keyword.

For example: If I wanted to track updates that included the keyword “marketing”, I would enter in the following command:

track marketing


The command track prompts the system to track your keyword. Please be sure to include a space in between track and your chosen keyword.

You can stop tracking a keyword by entering in:

untrack keyword

Or if you have set it up to track multiple keywords and you wish to stop receiving updates from all of them at once, enter in:

untrack all or track off
(both do the same thing)

A great way to be notified when someone replies to you directly on Twitter is to use the tracking feature to track replies sent to you.

Simply enter in:  track your-name

At this time however, tracking is only available to those who choose to receive updates via their mobile phone or through Instant Messenger, so you are unable to set up tracking from the Twitter website directly.
 
Staying Active On Twitter

Apart from mobile, Instant Messenger and the Twitter website itself, there are many other ways to update your Twitter status, including downloadable programs that run on your computer making it easy to post quick updates and keep your Twitter account fresh.

When you use these programs you are able to update your Twitter account easily, without being required to load the Twitter website and log into your account, so for those of you who want to stay active in the Twitter community but are strapped for time, these tiny applications may serve as a handy resource.

In addition, whether you are on a PC or a Mac, you have several options available. 

Here are a few of the popular ones currently being offered:

Twitterrific

Exclusively for Mac users at this time, Twitterrific is a very small application that runs on your computer allowing you to update your Twitter account instantly by accessing it via your menu bar. It will also notify you every time someone tweets (if you wish), and lets you add your own updates instantly via the text bar.

See http://iconfactory.com/software/twitterrific

Twitteroo

If you are using a PC, you will love the ease of use that Twitteroo offers.  Just like Twitterrific, it will let you know when people have added new tweets and allows you to add your own instantly from your desktop.

http://rareedge.com/twitteroo

Twitteroo also comes with instant URL cloaking and shortening which can come in handy if you plan to include lengthy URL’s in your tweets, or wish to hide the links that you do post. You can also customize the font size of tweets, or be notified by sound each time a new update is posted.

twhirl for Twitter

Twhirl is a desktop twitter client, based on the Adobe AIR platform.

Some of twhirl’s features:

    * runs on both Windows (2000/XP/Vista) and Mac OSX
    * connects to multiple Twitter and Friendfeed accounts
    * notifications on new tweets
    * shorten long URLs (using snurl, twurl or is.gd)
    * cross-post updates to Pownce and Jaiku
    * post images to TwitPic
    * search tweets using TweetScan

See http://www.twhirl.org

Other Twitter Clients:

http://www.funkatron.com/spaz
http://www.GetSnitter.com

Cool Twitter Apps & Tools

TwitterVision: http://www.TwitterVision.com
Shows you where Twitters are from all over the globe.  Also features a Facebook application.

TwitterMap: http://www.TwitterMap.com/maps

TwitterLocal: http://www.TwitterLocal.net
Lets you generate a RSS or XML feed to filter Tweets by specific locations by entering in a city, or postal code and selecting the range in which to scout.

Follow Twitter from Microsoft Outlook:
http://www.techhit.com/OutTwit
You can easily follow your Twitter friends and updates directly from your Outlook email program.

Twitter Gram:
A service to send voice and audio message over the Twitter network.  Available at: http://www.twittergram.com

Pocket Tweets:
http://www.PocketTweets.com
A web based application designed for use exclusively with the Apple iPhone.

Tweet Connections


If you want to encourage people to follow you on Twitter, an easy way to showcase your current Tweets is by adding Twitter to your Facebook account, your website or your blog.

Luckily, there are helpful little applications that make this possible.

For posting current Tweet updates to your WordPress blog, you might want to check out the handy little app by Twitter Feed. You can customize it to display only your tweet updates, so that visitors to your blog are encouraged to follow you on Twitter.

Check it out at: 
http://www.TwitterFeed.com
 
Twitter Badges

If you are a proud member of the Twitter community, you can choose to display a Twitter badge on your profiles from other social communities. 

To access the graphic, log into your Twitter account and click on the link that appears right above your stats that reads “Put your updates on your site!”. 

You can choose to display either a Javascript or a CSS badge.  Just follow the instructions on the site to add the badge to your website or blog instantly.

Currently, you can post badges on your MySpace, Facebook, TypePad, Blogger and pretty well any other social network community profile page.

There is also another way to add Tweets to your Facebook account, and that is by way of the Twitter Facebook application, available at: http://apps.facebook.com/twitter/



“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that,
but the really great makes you feel that you, too, can become great.”
~ Mark Twain

valpubs

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Re: To Twitter ... or not to Twitter
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2009, 11:02:22 AM »
This is seriously interesting..but is Twitter 'actually' worth the hassle?

I mean, with opening emails, reading forum posts, writing articles etc etc do I need another tool to keep me in contact?

I know there are some here who have had success with Twitter but I'm just not sure

I'd love some feedback

Cheers

Val

Offline KarenMcG

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Re: To Twitter ... or not to Twitter
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2009, 04:53:35 PM »
This is seriously interesting..but is Twitter 'actually' worth the hassle?

I mean, with opening emails, reading forum posts, writing articles etc etc do I need another tool to keep me in contact?

I know there are some here who have had success with Twitter but I'm just not sure

I'd love some feedback

Cheers

Val

Val,

Well, I'm not sure I'm one to talk about Twitter because I seem to be a "starter" and a "stopper".

I make resolutions in my mind to devote time to Twitter, it works for a day or so and then I stop and start all over again. It's like trying to lose those few pounds that don't seem to want to get gone.

Having said that, I do know quite a few people (not even counting those here) who are extremely successful with Twitter and who make contacts that help them to grow their businesses.

I understand where you're coming from in the email, the forum, the writing, the everything else. But I really believe that if I/we can fit Twitter in we ought to do it. Or maybe not!

Then, don't forget Facebook and LinkedIn and all the others.  ;D

Karen

valpubs

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Re: To Twitter ... or not to Twitter
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2009, 06:16:08 PM »

Val,

Well, I'm not sure I'm one to talk about Twitter because I seem to be a "starter" and a "stopper".

I make resolutions in my mind to devote time to Twitter, it works for a day or so and then I stop and start all over again. It's like trying to lose those few pounds that don't seem to want to get gone.

Having said that, I do know quite a few people (not even counting those here) who are extremely successful with Twitter and who make contacts that help them to grow their businesses.

I understand where you're coming from in the email, the forum, the writing, the everything else. But I really believe that if I/we can fit Twitter in we ought to do it. Or maybe not!

Then, don't forget Facebook and LinkedIn and all the others.  ;D

Karen

Karen
Thanks for that

Yes, I agree..it's a time management thing.
If Twitter can fit into the marketing schedule then it should be - as Aatos has proved, it is a valid marketing tool.
Just as long as I don't lose sight of its 'tool-ness' and start using it to contact friends