In the last few months I have received numerous queries concerning twitter from those who are new to the medium. Questions range from which app to use to "what good is twitter anyway?". So here goes--this will be a "Twitter 101" of sorts, and of course I'd love to get this out to all conservatives everywhere!
Twitter is a terrific tool for organizing, announcing and energizing a community of friends/patriots. The first step is creating your account at twitter.com. I always recommend that folks immediately upload an avitar (picture or graphic associated with your user account) that will be unique and either feature a pic of the user, or a graphic that represents the spirit/worldview of the user. Next, create a bio which succinctly captures who you are and what you believe. Anyone looking at my bio should have no doubt that I am a conservative woman of faith.
While the twitter web site is the site for managing your account and settings, I rarely tweet from or view tweets at that site. My preferred app is Tweetdeck Version 0.38.1 (the new version of Tweetdeck was NOT improved by the new owner, twitter).
Tweetdeck Version 0.38.1 for PC: http://cnet.co/SP3VuQ
I prefer to have 3 columns: first, my mentions (tweets to and retweets of @tamij); second, my direct messages/dm's ; and third, my column for good friends and #hewitt (hashtag for the Hugh Hewitt Radio show). Tweetdeck allows you to upload pictures and video, schedule tweets in advance, block users and report spam, follow, etc. This is the app of choice for power users.
There is a platform for Blackberry, iPhone, and android. UberSocial is, in my opinion THE best twitter mobile app and allows many of the same features as tweetdeck. I've used this app since it's early Beta days, and none of the others I have tried compare in ease of use and functionality. There is a free version and an ad-free paid version which costs $4.99--completely worth the minimal expense.
Now that you've got your twitter infrastructure set up, what do you do? This is where the fun begins! Consider twitter to be a cyber "student union" or other such "hang out" where you and friends/like-minded folks critique a speech, share information, commend one-another and get help. Twitter is a cyber bully-pulpit that can disseminate information almost instantaneously!
I often tweet out famous quotes (always being careful to attribute the source). You'll find that linking quotes, speeches, video and the like is a cinch with tweetdeck once you enable the "auto-shrink" function. I also have a bitly account ( http://bitly.com ) which I would recommend for all of you. Being able to control your URL-shrinking pretty much eliminates the "hijacking" of links to untoward sites.
Consider the power of exponential reach that each of you can have with twitter: our wonderful message of patriotism and conservatism can reach more people in less time than any other unpaid venue. Thus, average citizens (like me) can get information out to thousands of people. I have over 11,500 followers, and each of those have scores/hundreds/thousands of followers...so when I tweet anything of import, it could potentially reach 11,500 to the nth degree!!!
To properly use twitter, you'll want to always follow your message with a hashtag: twitter queries and sorts on hashtags. Here are some of the common ones I use daily:
#hewitt = The Hugh Hewitt Radio Show http://www.hughhewitt.com/blog
#tcot = Top Conservatives on Twitter http://www.topconservativesontwitter.net
#sgp = Smart Girl Politics http://smartgirlpolitics.org
#LNYHBT = Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled http://www.hannity.com
Every day there are other new hashtags trending dependent upon the current news and events. For instance #MemorialDay, #troops, #SEALS, #November, #GOP, etc. Savvy users on twitter often create a hashtag as part of the 140 character message to lend emphasis and humor! See the example of my friend @CCC6:
As you become more proficient at tweeting (the 140 character constraint forces one to be succinct), you'll find yourself remarking on current events, announcing conservative meet-ups, and tweeting back and forth with friends from around the country and the world. Suddenly you can watch the Super Bowl commercials with friends located thousands of miles away! People from across the nation can rejoice or mourn in response to the events of the day.
There are also many apps which allow you to tweet out songs and be a virtual DJ, such as blip.fm or grooveshark.com . Simply register, search for songs by title or artist, compose your tweet (to the general stream or an individual) and add the hashtags. Suddenly all of your followers can have your music playing while they tweet or work! (see my account for examples blip.fm/tamij )
My most consistent and long-running use of twitter is to tweet out the daily line-up for the Hugh Hewitt Radio Show, which I've been doing since early 2009. There are many people who frequently change their avs (often to mirror a trending topic of the day), however, I maintain the same av everywhere. People looking for the show line-up watch for my av about mid-day and know I will have the line-up with appropriate and timely links I've found for articles, books or video.
http://www.twitlonger.com . Also, in an effort to keep tweets short, hundreds of acronyms have been spawned. Here is a comprehensive acronym dictionary: netlingo
I sincerely hope you find this information helpful as you use twitter to replicate your message to the world! At a time when the news cycle is rapid fire, new media allows once isolated people to jump in the fray and make a difference! After all, words matter: they define and disseminate concepts and precepts, and can effect the hearts and minds of a neighbor or a nation.
[Addendum: please follow @tamij on twitter and tweet/dm any questions you may have. More writings by Tami can be found at her website TribbleNews.com (joint venture with Michael Withem, web designer extraordinaire)]