Imagine everyone – Mom, Dad, spouse, friends, nerdy guy behind the counter at the gas station, Shakespeare – communicating in no more than 140 characters. No impassioned soliloquies or extensive, well thought out arguments...just short blurbs, sound-bites if you will, chocked full of acronyms. Welcome to Life in Pithy Land; welcome to…
“Twitter is an information network made up of 140-character messages called Tweets. It's a new and easy way to discover the latest news (“what’s happening”) related to subjects you care about.” -- Twitter Online Help.
Several months ago, my son introduced me to the Land of Tweets. My first reaction after the initial, brief visit? Frustration! I’m a novelist, not a headline writer! I can carry a single thought for pages on end, in theory. I never met a word I didn’t like…except for very - I’m not very fond of using very, very often because it very quickly loses the very soul of its very purpose. Point being: I felt confined by the arbitrary message length limitation. Like some unseen techno-terrorist cutting me off in the middle of my paragraph, over and over again.
I realize many of you don’t need a Twitter tutorial but for those who do and/or want to be entertained by a witty and interesting personality such as myself, please tag along. The most basic Twitter premise: in 140 characters say whatever you’d like and it will be broadcast to anyone who’s chosen to follow you.
So let’s quickly dissect this thing called a Tweet. If we take a look at the headline you’ll find several common components. It started with good old-fashioned text “Anatomy of a Tweet by” followed by a handle/username @markadairauthor. Next I included a shortened URL/ link to the blog site. I concluded my tweet with a series of hashtags (keywords preceded by #).
When someone uses my handle I can see those tweets easily in my list of “Mentions”. I can search or follow hashtags on any subjects that interest me. For those following me or finding my tweet via the hashtag, the URL/Link is clickable, taking them to a webpage with more info. So handles and hashtags help me find a specific person’s tweets or specific tweets on a subject of interest. BTW, “RT” stands for retweet – requesting others to re-broadcast my tweet to their followers.
Technically, that’s about it. But why…why would I want to spend time in this strange little world of bite-sized conversations? Good question. First and foremost, twitter is social and many of our calendars reveal an over-scheduled, almost dizzying array of tasks leaving virtually no time for in-depth socializing. With Twitter I can give others access, via tiny windows, to my life and vice versa. And I can sneak in that tweet (sneaky tweety) from most any smart device during commercials or while driving down the freeway (just kidding, Officer).
Secondly, it works quite nicely for headlines – short promos about my novels, works in progress, and promoting those of my writer friends. The trick here is to balance this with other more truly social interactions, and not run off my wonderful, intelligent, beautiful followers.
When I started down this road, frustration exceeded value. However, after meeting many fascinating men/women from across the globe, I’m seeing it differently. It won’t replace an evening at the pub with friends but it can #connect me with people who may someday become those #friends at the #pub. #love Plz #RT!
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