What do you mean you’re not on Twitter? OK, so you’ve heard about it, you’ve seen evidence of the role it plays in our society and you’ve read celebrity tweets in magazines and you have even started using the hashtag trend thing (without actually knowing what it means).
You want to join but you’re not entirely sure what Twitter is for. Well, fear not dear dummy, I am here to guide you through those first steps to becoming a more functional and social media-tuned being.
Let’s start with a few facts, to lay the groundwork…
Twitter was launched in 2006 as a ‘microblogging/social networking’ site that allowed users to post ‘tweets’ (named after the bird chirp sound- short and sweet) of text up to 140 characters long.
By 2008, despite there already being over 3 million registered users, Twitter had only 8 employees.
In March 2012, Twitter recorded over 140 million active users tweeting over 340 million tweets per day.
Twitter now has over 900 employees.
So a pretty big business.
The principle of Twitter is to express yourself in short bursts, share short links and comment upon the world, in 140 characters or less. You read other people’s short bursts, share the bursts you enjoy the most with others and generally revel in the sharing.
Tweet - The aforementioned short burst (140 characters or less).
To follow – You ‘follow’ a user who’s tweets you are interested in and they will appear on your ‘Twitter feed’.
Twitter feed – The same as Facebook news feed, only they are a list of tweets from the people you follow.
To unfollow- When someone you follow becomes uninteresting to you and you’re sick of them crowding your feed with links you’ll never click on and retweets you find boring.
Retweet or RT – This is when you quote or share someone’s tweet if it struck a chord with you. You can either simply retweet it, which is when it appears in your followers feed marked as retweeted by you, or you can quote it with a RT at the beginning.
Follower – Someone who follows you on Twitter. The average Twitter user has between 20 and 50 followers. Lady Gaga has over 25 million followers. Don’t feel bad.
Trending – A topic or keyphrase that is ‘trending’ is a subject that is being widely discussed and referenced to in the land of Twitter. A trend is preceded by a hash tag. On the Twitter website (and on the majority of Twitter applications) there is a section on the screen that shows the worldwide trends. If you click on one trend, you can see a feed of all the comments/tweets made on this topic. In order to appear in this feed, you include the #TrendTopic.
For example: This match is amazing #Euro2012 #ComeOnEngland
Random Twitter Facts
Most current celebrities in the public eye have Twitter accounts. I think it’s fair to say that to a certain extent, many celebrities have Twitter so that they can control their privacy, keep people up to date with the truth rather than leaving the public to believe what is fabricated by the media and generally keep up their public profile on their own terms.
The 5 most followed celebrities (as of June 2012) are…
Lady Gaga (25 600106 followers)
Justin Bieber (23 202429 followers)
Katy Perry (21124937 followers)
Rihanna (20,455,682 followers)
Britney Spears (17,579,863 followers)
Barak Obama is the 7th most followed person. I think it slightly odd (and revealing) that the president of the United States is less interesting to Twitter users than Britney Spears.
But that’s a whole other blog post topic.
Twitter has even been instrumental in catching several criminals such as Swansea student Liam Stacey who was arrested and jailed for 56 days for tweeting racist comments about footballer Fabrice Muamba on Twitter. Bomb threats, organised rioting and other criminal activity has been exposed via the medium of Twitter.
So here is a very basic beginner’s explanation to how this phenomenon works. Don’t feel pressured into joining Twitter just because it’s a phenomenon. Twitter can be a great way to express yourself, network with others who share similar interests, share great things and learn more about your areas of interest.
Given the fact that Twitter has nearly 150 million registered users worldwide, if you’re thinking of how to find someone you haven’t been in contact with for a while, it’s a good place to start. Although it may take a while!
Whatever your tastes and pursuits may be, there is a Twitter community attached. You can discover great new blogs, videos, music and a thousand other things, so if that’s what you’re looking for, I say get involved!
About the Author
Elise Lévêque is a fond social commentator with an interest in social media, shopping and human relationships. She blogs for White Pages, an online people finder
Photo Courtesy of: The Daring Librarian