postheadericon ECS: #TwitterMadeEasy!


Twitter is one of the most popular websites in the world, and is also the de facto social networking tool for messages under 140 characters, with over 140 million users tweeting at a rate of 350 million per day. Twitter is used to send out a Facebook-like status message (tweet), and to follow tweets sent from your favorite celeb, friend, retailer or news outlet.

Initially started in 2006 as a way to SMS a text message to a small group of friends, Twitter quickly expanded to allow users to send links, pics and videos out to the entire Internet population, to the point where any major event in the world was being tweeted at alarming rates. Take for example the 2010 World Cup, where fans tweeted at a rate of 3,000 tweets per second within the minute following Japan's win over Cameroon. This new social behavior now repeats everyday for every major newsworthy event on the planet – as well as not-so newsworthy events as well...

Pears Analytics (a US market research firm) reports that 40% of tweets are "pointless babble" while another 38% are conversational in nature, with other smaller percentages of the traffic being self-promotional (6%), pass-along info (9%), spam (4%), and hard news (4%). The impact of such chatter in our daily lives now ranges from annoying & irritating to inspiring & rallying, as seen in the recent Arab Spring Rebellions where millions were tweeted into action. 

But what if you are not already one of the millions being followed on Twitter, or following another? Here is a quick guide to getting started, and some tips on following your favorite celebs, writers, or organizations:

#Step 1 – Get A Twitter Account (https://twitter.com)
Setting up a twitter account is as easy as setting up any other website account, where all you need is a verifiable email address, and perhaps a profile pic and Facebook account for connecting the two together (i.e. your tweets can also be posted to your FB wall or FB pages). 

Once you have an account, the fun really begins, and you can either download the Twitter app for your smartphone, or begin tweeting / following from your computer's browser window – you choose, as the interfaces are pretty much the same. But remember, each tweet that you send out can only be 14 characters long.

#Step 2 – Learn The Basics
There are just a few new terms to learn to become prolific on Twitter, and the first one is the hashtag (#). Hashtags were originally used to make searching in the flood of tweets easier, for example entering #ladygaga in search would show you other tweets marked with that same hastag. Your own twitterings can then be added to the pool of Lady GaGa tweets by adding that same hashtag to your own tweet, for example "I like #ladygaga" Think of hashtags as keywords or tags, although the use of hastags is evolving in the twittersphere.  For example, the hastag #FF stands for Follow Friday, where every Friday, you can use this tag to recommend to all others who to follow, for example, "#FF I'm recommending @wangle because he posts really good blogs about Nepal".

Then there is the @Reply tag, that basically gives out your (or someone else's) Twitter screen name. For example, all of your tweets will be automatically prefaced by your profile name (first,last) @ screen name. Clicking on the @ symbol always shows you the profile of the tweeter, and depending on the app being used, you can quickly add them to your "following" list, send them a private message (DM) or even start a twitter chat with them. Another good-to-know twitter word is RT (retweet), which is like forwarding an email in the olden days – for example tweeting "RT @friendsname I like #ladygaga" tells your followers that your friend tweeted you and likes Lady GaGa as well. 

For more help with the basics, don't forget to visit the great tutorial site at https://support.twitter.com.

#Step 3 – Have Fun With The Rest...
Once you have an account and you are following and tweeting others, there is even more fun and usefulness of Twitter to be found. For example, now whenever you see a twitter "follow me" website icon, a simple click or tap will add that blogger or website to your "following" list. You will immediately start getting tweets from that person or place, and conversely, by clicking on a "tweet" icon you can instantly send out a link for the web page that you are reading to all of your followers. The link sent is called a short URL, as remember, you only have 140 characters to tweet with, so a long URL just won't do! If you need to create a short URL of your own, no problem, just navigate to www.tinyurl.com, which takes the longest of links and makes them 16 characters or less – perfect for tweeting!

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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