I was sitting in an Intro to Writing for Media class at the University of Georgia in 2007 listening to a guest speaker gushing about some new up-and-coming social network that would allow users to post personal updates 140 characters at a time. This innovative new platform, she raved, was on the brink of exploding globally and it meant big changes for the news and PR industries into which we’d soon be diving. I remember rolling my eyes. Twitter?! It’s just a glorified list of status updates, I thought. People too consumed with themselves—and not enough with grammar—would soon be bored with shallow updates and meaningless content. There’s no way this copycat will survive in the virtual terrain dominated by Facebook; people won’t care that much.
Blame it on my early adoption of Facebook (where my loyalty would stay, I swore) or my inability to see beyond using social networks for purely social purposes, but I was not a Twi-liever. Sure, class projects and curiosity led to my creating my own handle, helping me understand the why and how of its popularity (and capabilities beyond my wildest dreams), but my own stubbornness kept me from really engaging or generating content that was worth much. In retrospect, this was every shade of dumb! It’s hard to admit, but for the larger part of 2009–2011, I was willingly a Twitter outsider—watching suspiciously, taking notes, and, yes, turning up my nose. But—but!—my years of research have yielded some pretty promising results, and I can proudly say that today I believe in this crazy idea called Twitter. So, if you too are Twitter-cautious, I offer these Tid Bits from a Former Twitter Hater to help you dip your toe in the global waters of sharing, 140 characters at a time.
Tid Bits from a Former Twitter Hater: PART I
At-a-glance fast stats. When Twitter first came onto the scene, quick stats like these weren’t available to persuade me. So peruse these factoids and try not to be convinced of the channel’s power. . .
Launched: July 15, 2006; The site’s main function was for users to send a short text message via a mobile phone to a specific number for the message to be blasted to friends in the online forum.
Active Twitter users: 140 million across the globe as of March 2012.
Tweets: 340 million updates daily, and ranking as one of the top-10-most-visited sites worldwide.
Today’s estimated worth: $8 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
No need to fear, a Twitter Glossary is here. Okay, so now that we’ve got those record-breaking stats as our foundation, let’s talk to those out there (Mom, this includes you) who are, quite frankly, afraid of Twitter. Here’s the platform broken down into a few of its most basic components, but a complete Twitter Glossary can be found here . . .
#: Placed before a word, a hashtag symbol (#) categorizes tweets by keywords (Example: “This tweet is about #hcsm,” which means that it should be categorized alongside all other tweets worldwide containing the tag for health care social media).
@: Placed before a Twitter handle or user name, the at sign (@) targets specific users within a tweet (Example: “I’m really excited about @DanyaIntl upcoming Social Media Day!” would then link the username within the tweet to Danya’s official Twitter profile).
Bios: The opportunity for a profile owner to tell the world about themselves or their company in 160 characters or less; linking to additional social media sites or websites here is highly recommended.
Follow: To follow someone on Twitter means that you are subscribing to their updates on the site.
List: Personally categorized group of specific Twitter users.
Mention: To mention another user in a tweet, simply place the at sign (@) before their handle to tag, or mention, them in the post.
MT and RT: Abbreviations for modified tweet and retweet; placed before retweeted text to indicate that it is not original content (RT) and may have been modified (MT) from its original form.
Tweet: A message posted to Twitter of 140 characters or less; this can also be used as a verb.
URL Shortener: Useful tool for shortening long URLs to fit the 140-character limit.
Still need a push in Twitter’s direction? Or just want a better understanding of social media in general? Read Part II of this post and join us next Thursday, September 27 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. for Danya’s Social Media Day and help us celebrate the digital revolution!
By Katy Capers