Twitter – my personal primer and objection handler

I believe twitter, like many websites and platforms, social or not – is a personal experience.  When I first heard about twitter a few years ago I didn’t get it.  When I signed up for it, I still wasn’t convinced I needed or wanted to look at or use it.  Over the past year and a half twitter has come to mean a lot of things to me personally, many of which may not be the same 2, 6, or 12 months from now.  I’m not going to write a love song about it or try to define it here.  I am also firmly against dialogue about right and wrong ways to use a tool, in fact I think a lot of the twitter babble and buzz has turned more people off to twitter, than on to it. But, that is another story entirely…


There are many great articles, videos, and books out there to get started.  I put this together because I’m having this conversation more and more often and thought it might be useful for those who ask (and maybe to some who don’t.)


Here are some of the ways I have personally found twitter valuable:



Keeping up to date on topics relevent and interesting to me.  Follow and Unfollow is simple.  If your twitter stream is boring you, then you probably need to dig a little deeper or drop some of the accounts you are following.


Staying in touch with friends (and many others)

Though I think facebook is brilliant and powerful, what works best for me is to to limit facebook to people I have spent "face" time with on some level.  I prefer to use twitter a bit more broadly.



I am not shy, but I am not without my share of social jitters and often feel out of my comfort zone at a party, conference, or "networking event."  There is something a lot easier about meeting someone who you know "something" about, even though you may not KNOW them.  For many this can feel "creepy" at first, but I would counter that creeps are everywhere and if you have a single friend in this world, you took a chance somewhere along the line.  Part of what has always pained me about "networking" is forced conversation and the stock questions and topics you (too often) find yourself talking about.  When one person in a conversation has been following the other, or even if its simply the ability to follow them on twitter after meeting in person, the discussion often skips past a lot of that painful b.s.



I’m a journaler.  I like having a record of my past.  Through 140 character updates I have been able to record links I find interesting/funny/useful quickly.  I share observations, photos, videos and otherwise burden the world with my babble.  This is made incredibly easy by the ability to compose a simple text message to the number 40404 or through the countless excellent twitter applications you can install on your phone or computer, or simply by going to



- I use twitter more and more as a news source or prompt to seek out information.

- Search  See what others have to say about you, your brand, or anything.

- Post a question.  Maybe someone in your network knows.



I realize blogs (and blogging) are not for everyone and since the advent of "twitter like" status updates on facebook I have had many folks tell me that they simply don’t care to know about others.  While this baffles me, I think no one who’s actually said this to me fundamentally means it …the 140 character limit and flexibility to follow as many people you want (or don’t want) provides a quick way to scan bite size bits of information.  If you have no time for twitter, try making a habit of checking it while on the toilet (be careful – don’t drop electronics in the bowl or tub and practice good hygiene please!)


Text Messaging

I have found twitter to be indispensable while at conferences.  Where I may not have phone numbers or email addresses for people I meet or want to give my own out readily, I have both arranged meeting places/details and gotten information on everything from schedule changes to where I needed to be via twitter direct messages (ie: DMs).  You can set twitter to allow direct messages (read private messages) to come as text messages to your cell phone.  If you have someone’s username and if they are following you, simply texting D username to 40404 will send a private message to someone.  In my experience, most folks have DMs set to go through to their phones and this has replaced about 25% of my use of email.


“But…I have nothing to say”

  • Sign up –
  • Choose to be yourself (or not).
  • Choose to protect your updates if you want to restrict who views what you post.  You can always change it later.
  • Use a photo.  If you don’t want your mug online…choose something. anything.  no one likes the default avatar.
  • Allow twitter to cross reference your email and facebook contacts.  This allows you to see who you "know" is already on twitter.  Follow the prompts correctly and it will not spam your address book and no one will be the wiser that you are on twitter (if you are still hung up on that)…unless you choose to follow someone.  There is a setting in twitter that allows a user to determine if they want email notifications when they have a new follower.
  • Be patient or jump right in.  If you have nothing to say, don’t.  You might find youself wanting to respond to things you see.  Simply post a message with @username or hit the rounded arrow next to a post – this acts as a reply.
  • Click on things.  You can see the accounts that others follow.  When you find an account worth following, see who they follow, and so on.
  • Browse, one of many "twitter directories"

"I don’t understand what I’m looking at!"

The twitter interface is a good place to start.  The basics:


Keep in mind there are many ways to interface and interact with twitter, consider using an application –


Check out Twitter for Dummies or any of the other many resources out there.  This is by no means a comprehensive "how to."