Sunday, February 17, 2013

Getting Started on Twitter: Part 1

Twitter...just use the term and some people will jump up and down with excitement while simultaneously grabbing for their smartphone to get the latest updates. Then others will glaze over blankly and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Facebook seems easy enough to use, but Twitter requires just a bit of preparation and a primer on learning the ropes of Twitter. Never fear...I will walk you through this step-by-step.

Twitter allows people to communicate, but in chunks that never exceed 140 characters. It can be rapid fire communication, or very short blogs, or a way to quickly communicate. But the big rule is that no single message can ever exceed 140 characters.

See...you are already smarter. Now let's get rolling:

Step #1: Go To Twitter.com and register
Seems logical enough, right. Just point your web browser to http://www.twitter.com. Then look for the section labeled New to Twitter? To get started, you will need to input your name, an e-mail address and a chosen password.

Step #2: Pick a Twitter username
Then you will need to select a Twitter username. This can get a little tricky because your Twitter username needs to be 100% unique. While there can be more than one Joe Smith on Facebook, there cannot be more than one @joesmith on Twitter.

And while we're at it, you may be wondering about that @ sign. That generally precedes a username. Whenever you need to use a username, you will always signal that by using the @ sign.
Your Twitter username can only be 15 characters long, but it can include numbers, letters and the underscore symbol. Generally speaking, a shorter username is good, because Twitter when people want to find you, they too only get 140 characters. If they have to "use up" 15 characters just to address you, your messages might get shorter.

And here is your first decision point...your username. Do you use a cute pseudonym or your own real name? It's your call. Using a pseudonym might make you identifiable because your friends are accustomed to seeing your username in a blog, e-mail address, or simply from an embarrassing night in college. In contrast, finding you in a search engine like Google can be easier if you use your real name.

And lastly, you will often hear people talking about Twitter handles. In the Twitter vocabulary, a Twitter username and a Twitter handle are one and the same. Once you have a Twitter username, you have a Twitter handle. Way to go!

I picked @gomattlind as my username/handle. I really wanted the nickname I use for my e-mail address, but it was taken. So I opted for something that was easy to remember, somewhat short at 10 characters, but was also a play on my own name.

Once you register, congratulations. You have been to Twitter's website, you registered, you picked a username, and you have a Twitter handle. You are a officially a Tweeter. That is what a Twitter user is called, a Tweeter.

So go become a Tweeter, then check back and we'll get you moving forward from here.