twitter-logo(3)Why Twitter?

If you’ve talked to me in the last month, you’ve probably  noticed that my latest addiction is Twitter. Several people have asked me what’s up with Twitter: so many so, that I decided to write this post. Some people have Twitter accounts and don’t know what to do with them. Some don’t know what Twitter is. Some know what it is and think it’s silly. This post is for all of you.

First, let me explain how Twitter works. The whole point of this web application is brevity. If you can’t keep it short and simple, you can’t use Twitter. Any message or “tweet” must be no longer than 140 characters (that includes spaces and punctuation marks).

So you sign up to get an account. Your url would be http://www.twitter.com/yourusername.  Once you have a username, and you reference yourself to other twitterers, your handle becomes @username. I’m @amandamogul.

Once you’ve signed up you can “follow” others (the equivalent of  friending on Myspace or Facebook) and basically have access to every updated tweet they post. They can follow you back, but they don’t have to. But if they do follow you, you can direct message or DM each other (send a private note that only the recipient can see).  When you log onto your homepage, you’ll see a list of all your tweets and your friends’ tweets (including non-private messages directed at specific people, which can get a bit involved) in chronological order. That’s about it.

I know a lot of you are thinking, “What makes that so special?” For me, at least, twitter has been an incredible way to get introduced to new resources AND find out the latest breaking news in business, media, marketing and PR.

For example, I recently started following @themediaisdying (a chronicle of layoffs, moves, and downsizing of the media) and knew that the Washington Post would cease publishing the Sunday Source weeks  before it was announced in the actual paper. This type of information is invaluable when building/updating media lists and deciding who to pitch. (More on using Twitter for Business in Part II).

But  what’s probably even more useful are all of the links my “friends” post. I follow a lot of PR and Marketing people so they’re always keeping me up to date on what’s going on in our industries. They tweet when they update their blogs (as do I) and they post links to incredible  articles I wouldn’t have found on my own. Through twitter, I’ve found industry leaders, invaluable web sites/blogs, networking events, copywriting tips, media pitching tips and more. And it’s incredible because everyday I find someone new and interesting to follow, and the network expands. So if you’re using Twitter for business as I am, find the influential people in your industry and follow them. Then, look and see who they’re following, and follow some of them. And so on and so on.

And then there’s the unpredictability and whimsy of the whole process. You never know who’s going to find and follow you.  Just yesterday I got this message on my iphone:

“Hi, Amanda Littlejohn.

Hammer (MCHammer) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Hammer’s profile here:

http://twitter.com/MCHammer

You may follow Hammer as well by clicking on the “follow” button.

Best,
Twitter”

Hilarious.

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