About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nuts and Bolts of twitter

So I now have been using twitter for almost 4 weeks now. And there are some nuts and bolts that I would have liked to have known before I started. This post is meant for those that don't use twitter (or use it regularly). Anyone who is more experienced than I am, please feel free to add on insight or tips in the comments area.

Retweet, mentions, and favorites

It took a while for me to figure out these options. I could intuitively figure out WHAT retweet was. However, unlike the "reply" option, retweet just rebroadcasts without comments. However, I wasn't sure WHY you would use this. After using twitter for a while, I figured out how most people use this.

Each person has their own social network which is slightly different than anothers. Retweets allows you to pass information (or questions) on to those that may not have access to all of those within your social network. In other words, it helps to broadcast your comments/questions to a wider audience. I saw this happen when I posted a question to those who were studying for a Phd who had children, how they found time for thinking. This was then picked up by a group studying for their phd (#phdchat) and soon I had a lot of answers.

An alternative to just clicking on the Retweet button is to mark a tweet with RT (retweet). This allows you to comment on the retweet and not just pass on the information. For example, if you had a particularly good link in a tweet that you think a group would be interested in you cut and paste the tweet, starting with RT, then put a comment or hash tag to identify why this is important.

This brings me to the third way you can bring attention to someone else's tweet: the hashtag. The hashtag begins with a # and identifies a group or topic which others might be interested in. For example, many who are tweeting at conferences will use an agreed upon hashtag to identify all tweets having to do with that conference. You can then search for all tweets using that hashtag. This is how the Phdchat group identifies its members.

Another option tweeters have is to engage in a dialog about a topic. You do this through the reply button (if you move the cursor over the comment it will come up on the menu below). The reply will then be saved as an exchange. You can have a long chat just by using the reply. It took me a while to figure how to access the dialog and sometimes I lost the thread of interaction or missed others contribution to the dialog until I found the feature that allows you to see contributions to a thread through the reply button. In the upper right hand corner of the tweet is an open comment icon (the type you see in the comic strips). If you click on that or the little arrow that pops up, you'll get the dialog that includes all people that contributed the discussion.

Finally, you might find something that you feel is very important and want to save for the future. This is when the "favorite" button comes into play. I was marking things as favorite, but then wondered how to retrieve it. So I tweeted to my followers and got the answer back immediately (this is one of the things that useful in twitter: immediate answers from your network). Go to profile (menu up at the very top, next to "home") and click on favorites. Those tweets you marked as favorites will be listed. This comes in handy when you want to "bookmark" favorite resources.

Communicating Using Twitter

Twitter was originally designed for mobile technology. As such, a tweet is limited to 140 characters. For those, like myself, who are used to writing rather long sentences/comments, this can be challenging. Over the last 4 weeks, I have found that I need to think differently when writing for twitter. In fact, I think one reason that twitter is popular among businesses, but not academics is because of the writing style.

So here are some hints for writing for twitter:

1) Use truncated words when possible (i.e. U, R, 4, b/c, w/, etc...). Learn the tx spch such as RT commonly used in twitter. I find that most people use their own forms of abbreviation. Research has found that English speakers can decipher words as long as there is the initial and final sounds spelt out.

2) Simplify your words. Use "hard" rather than "challenging". I feel that I have gone back to my business writing roots when using twitter. Most academics are used to using large words and complex sentence structures. Twitter requires that you use direct sentence structures and words.

3)Learn to write without punctuation (unless lack of punctuation will make it difficult to understand your tweet) and spaces. Most of us learned that you have two spaces after a period. This is at least one less character you will have for your tweet.

4) Twitter has a new ability to shorten your links' url. It used to be that you would need to use an outside ap (tinyurl was the most popular). Twitter now automatically shortens the link so you have more characters to explain what the link is to.

As I mentioned above, these are only some of the suggestions I have from 4 weeks of being a twitter user. Please add any suggestions you have in the comments section.


Andy Coverdale said...

One thing it took me some time to realise is that a tweet using Twitter's Reply function, or manually starting a tweet with the recipients name (e.g. @andycoverdale) goes to the feed of the recipient and all others that follow both you and the recipient. If you want all your followers to view it, place any character before the '@' (RT works in the same way). Of course, if you want to send a message to one person only, use the Message feature.

V Yonkers said...

I didn't know that. I'm not sure what you mean about If you want all your followers to view it, place any character before the '@'. If I put a@...Would that tweet it to all my followers?

I turned off the message feature (I think) so I haven't played around with messages yet. I'm sure once my class starts, I'll activate it.

V Yonkers said...

Okay, so I guess I was wrong. I did have messages. I think I just shut off messages from those outside my network!