A few weeks ago, someone asked, “Twitter. I don’t get it. How does it work? And what’s the point?”
I’m not going to pretend to be any sort of expert here but here’s what I had to tell them at the time. Perhaps I’ll elaborate more later, but I’d be happy if those of you who use Twitter would post your thoughts and answers to this question in the comments area below.
Anyhow, on to my answer.
There are many ways to use Twitter. One great thing is it is free to use. You can use it to keep in touch with friends or you can use it as a simple business communication tool. You can SEND and RECEIVE short messages either with your cell phone (SMS Text), from the Twitter web site, or from stand alone tools such as TweetDeck.
The mobile phone option is great if you’re on the go and can’t get to a computer. Some people worry that they’ll get too many text messages, but Twitter allows you to control who can contact you, what sort of messages get through, what time of day they are sent, and what’s the most messages you want in a day. Personally, I find SMS aspect to be too slow, so I use the Twidroid app for Android on my T-Mobile G1 smartphone. On the iPhone, Twitterific is a popular choice.
Plus Twitter allows you to receive messages through an email account in addition to or as an alternative to your cell phone.
Another advantage is there’s no address book to manage with Twitter and no need to update addresses. Twitter coordinates the connections between you and your followers for you. And people can opt in or out whenever they like. And your contact info is private.
Services like TweetLater.com allow you to have a summary of your daily messages and replies emailed to you.
Using the friends and cell phone option, let’s imagines you’ve registered your cell phone with your Twitter account. Then your friends could choose to “follow” your Twitter account. So let’s say you’re meeting a group of friends one day, and you have a change of plans, you could send one text message to your Twitter account, and then Twitter would forward a copy of that message to all your friends.
Or let’s say you’re producing a play, and you want to create some “buzz” about your latest production. You could tell people to “follow” your Twitter account to receive updates about the show on their cell phone or by email. So let’s say 300 people are following your Twitter account, you send out one message to Twitter and it forwards it to all 300 people. And if all goes well some of them will forward or “Retweet” to their friends and followers.
There’s more to it. You can send messages to everyone or to specific people.
But you can only communicate with people who chose to follow you, and whom you permit to follow you.
So if you want to talk to strangers, you can, but all they know about you is your user name and what you say in your messages. Even if you are sending messages from your phone, no one sees your phone number.
Some celebrities use Twitter to let their fans hear what they are up to. Many of them setup their accounts so their fans can receive messages from them, but can’t send messages to them.
So readers and Tweeters, what have you to say on the subject? Please comment below or send me Tweet. List your Twitter address, if you like.
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