All Atwitter

atwitter   (u-twit’ ur)   adj.  [1825-35]
Being in a state of nervous excitement;  to chatter quickly;  aflutter;  twittering

By now, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, chances are very good that you’ve heard of Twitter.   But maybe you’ve intentionally ignored the buzz or aren’t quite sure what it’s about.   Twitter is a free, real-time social messaging service.   Okay, that description may be technically accurate, but it sure doesn’t give a prospective user much to go on, does it?   And in turn, that sort of dry summary also shortchanges the service.   So, what then is Twitter, really?

twitter birdDeceptively simple, Twitter is a free online social networking platform that allows users to send & receive text updates, or “tweets,” from other users whom they’ve opted to “Follow.”   Think of “tweeting” as sending an instant message to a whole group of people.   So Twitter is a global conversation; a DIY chat room; a link -sharing service; a permanent cocktail party where it’s socially acceptable to join in on any conversation.   (You can also have private conversations via Twitter’s Direct Message, which are exactly like the public messages except that they can only be read by the intended recipient.)

But really, the following Common Craft video created by Lee & Sachi LeFever explains Twitter far better than I can:

Twitter was designed as multi-platform service so tweets are limited to 140 characters in length so they can be delivered to a cell phone, email account, the Twitter webpage, or any of a vast array of Twitter reader applications that can be installed on nearly any kind of computer. And if you wanted to accomodate a seemingly interminable link that won’t fit its end in, do not fret for people are still going to get the redirection [to the website] you wanted to give them. You may find the 140 characters to be rather restricting at first, but you quickly become adept at writing very concise posts to work within those confines.   And I recommend using one of the free URL shortener service like to compress lengthy web addresses down to more Twitter-suitable sized URLs so you can share links with your Followers.

On Twitter, you are, of course, free to talk about anything you want, but the question, “What are you doing?” may be a bit misleading.   Oh sure, you can tweet about the awesome BLT sandwich you just ate, but a much more effective or interesting approach is to think of the question above the input box as, “What would be funny, interesting, or useful to one or more of my Followers?”   So for example, while your Followers may not be all that interested in the awesome tuna wrap you’re having for lunch, they might be quite excited to read about the incredible deal you just discovered on a .

Ready to give tweeting a try?   Pop on over to Twitter and get started!   Or if you need a little guidance, check out Darren Rowse’s How to Set Up a Twitter Account article.

So, what’re you waiting for?   Get all atwitter on Twitter!

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