Once you have decided to set-up a Twitter account you have two options.
A. to lurk (watch other tweets before embarking) or B. to dive right in.
It’s down to personal preference, in the next few paragraphs I will give a crash course in Twitter basics and leave you to weigh up if you are Type A or Type B, this week.
The 140 characters (or less) you broadcast to the world are also directly sent to Twitter streams – list of tweets you will see on your account – of your followers. How do you get followers? Friends and family are the obvious audience for your tweets so you might like to use Twitter.com option of searching your contacts to see who is already registered on Twitter. If you start to follow them, they will be notified and can then decide if they wish to return the compliment and follow you back. Some people out there auto-follow (an option found in settings), meaning they will be automatically followed by anyone who follows them. Personally, I think this is unwise as your stream will get cluttered with all sorts of people and content which you may or not be interested in, but will certainly have trouble reading through.
Follow people and organisations that you like, for example @MuseumsGalScot and it is almost an unwritten rule to follow @StephenFry. For celebrities, Twitter has a blue authorised badge (see below), thus Twitter have authenticated this is the correct person.
When you start looking you will discover that many people, companies, brands and even animals have Twitter accounts, some official some unofficial. I heard a rumour that the flying hippopotamus at National Museum of Scotland has a feed, does anyone know it?
Start following as many tweeps as you are interested in. If you check Type B above, start sharing your news, ideas, links, pictures and possibly even your location, but please ease up on the eating tweets, have you ever called a friend and told them you are having a bagel?
You will start to notice some shorthand in the tweets, here are definitions:
RT – Retweeting from someone you follow – it shows your support, agreement, or a desire to share. You can add some text if the original tweet is less than the 140 characters, usually include “>” to indicate your words.
MT – Modified-Tweet – if the full RT is too big and you wish to modify, please don’t lose the meaning of the original tweet
DM – direct messages can only be sent to people who follow you and vice versa. If you put a ‘d’ at the start of your tweet then the @handle only they will see it
Tweeps – people on Twitter
tw….. – in general if you read a word with tw at the beginning it is highly likely to be related to Twitter, e.g. twibbon (Ribbon), Twestival (festival)
# – hashtag is there to follow a specific topic. e.g. MGS conference was #MGSconf and everyone who was tweeting about it was asked to include the # in their tweets. Follow live events or conversations e.g. #FoM12 (Festival of Museums 2012)
#FF – Follow Friday started as a way to acknowledge good people you follow and think others in your stream should be following. Happens on a Friday!!
Search facility on Twitter is there to help you identify things like #FF to see who is the bees-knees to be following and can also help find any organisation or event which has a name that wont fit on @handle, e.g. Festival of Museums or @FestofMuseums
Get signed up, Type A follow @MuseumsGalScot and Type B tell us who you are and why we should follow you.
The next blog will cover more advanced tools like archiving, Twitter clients, searching, lists, what to tweet, and some of MGS #FF people.