Welcome to Twitter
I wrote this email today intending to resend it again and again as new friends started joining Twitter, primarily from Facebook, but have quickly realized how cumbersome that might become, so instead I'm adding it here as a blog post for all to enjoy.
I've noticed a couple of my friends have signed up for Twitter but are not using it. Most of you have added the Twitter Facebook app, and are wondering "ok, so now what?" As a diligent and responsible Twitter addict, I've decided to sit down and write you a nice email to help you get started.
I'll then save it as a template, so I can send out again later to other people as they discover Twitter, too.
How is Twitter different than your Facebook status? Twitter's one and only question "What are you doing?" is pretty much the same, after all. One difference is that you can send replies. Twitter is its own thing, so you don't need Facebook to use it. Going right to twitter.com is much easier than using the Facebook app.
If you have a good texting plan on your cell phone, you can set up Twitter to work from your phone. You can also choose whose updates come to your phone and whose don't, which helps. However, the text part isn't required. I don't have any text service on my phone, so I just use Twitter on the web.
This 2-1/2 minute video explains Twitter pretty well, but it leaves some things out. Twitter is a conversation. Very rarely does anyone say anything earth-shattering. That kind of info doesn't fit in 140 characters. Ok, sometimes it does, and that's what favorites are for. Mostly it's just this background conversation that happens through your day. Blogger Natalie Jost likened it to virtual cubicles, where someone pops their head up, says something, and then moves on. Sometimes you reply, and sometimes you don't.
By the way, to reply, just type @username at the start of your message. Twitter will automatically link it back to that person and their latest tweet. Use @username to refer to other users, and the links will happen automatically. You may also see #words, which is a way to help make tweets about those #words searchable.
Besides "what are you doing?" consider these five questions from podcaster Bill Seaver: What did you learn? What made you laugh? What do you need an answer to? What are you thankful for? What ticks you off? Pick one and go answer it as an update. Now. People don't "get" Twitter at first. I didn't either. That's because there's nothing to "get." You just start using it. Be yourself. All you do is start following people and start posting "tweets." The rest just comes naturally. As soon as you start following people, you'll see the latest conversations we've had. That should help explain a lot, too.
Who should you follow? You can start by finding people you already know. I have already found you and am following you already. Follow my links to find other people you know, and see who we're following, and our followers. Read tweets by those people. Do they seem interesting? If so, then just start following them. They might follow you back; they might not. After a while, you might find you're missing parts of conversations unless you add another person.
People will follow you, too. Some find you through your friends, some people pick randomly from the public timeline, and some are spammers hoping you'll just automatically follow them back. Just use the block button to get rid of that last group, or even the randoms if you want.
You're already on Twitter, so just start using it, or else I may have to nudge you!