In part 1 of my series, I introduced Twitter, a relatively new text messaging service that combines features of many previously-existing Internet messaging technologies into one new way of connecting and communicating.
In part 2 of my series, I went into more detail about Twitter features, and gave some examples of how Twitter is being used by Hugh Hewitt and other activists.
So how do you get started on Twitter? There are nearly as many ways to use Twitter as there are Twitter users. That's what makes it so powerful, but it also makes it difficult to explain to Twitter novices.
First, go to www.twitter.com and create a Twitter account. You can use just about anything for a user name. Use your real name, a brand like a web site or blog, or something completely obscure, depending on how easily you want to be found, and how you will be using Twitter. Learn how to use hashtags (like #hhrs) on search.twitter.com.
Second, use Twitter for a week or two to figure out the basic Twitter commands and functions, and to understand how others are using Twitter. Check out this Twitter 101 Guide by David All Group.
One of the mysterious Twitter-related things you should learn about is TinyURL. TinyURL is one of several URL redirection-abbreviator services that shortens URLs so you can more easily include hyperlinks in your 140-character Tweets. To use TinyURL, visit the site, enter a long URL, and almost immediately you get a TinyURL to copy-paste into your Tweet. This technique is also useful for including hyperlinks in e-mails, which sometimes renders long URLs nonfunctional with line breaks.
Last, find the people with Twitter accounts whom you know and care about, and Follow them. Notice who they are Following. Here is a list to get you started:
- Top Conservatives on Twitter - required reading of the moment, don't miss the "10 Things You Can Do." Here's my TCOT stats profile
- Tweet Congress - find out who's Tweeting in the people's house
- GovTwit - an updated listing of bureaucrats, reporters, and politicos on Twitter, very interesting list that runs from the famous to the esoteric, state and local (R.T. Rybak) to the international (UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon).
- Hugh Hewitt (hughhewitt)
- Michelle Malkin (michellemalkin)
- True North (looktruenorth)
- Rebuild The Party (rebuildtheparty)
- Minnesota Free Market Institute (MNFreeMktInst)
- Ed Morrissey (EdMorrissey)
- Politics in Minnesota (PoliticsMN)
- Matt Abe (mattabe) - in addition to standard Tweets, I have used TwitterFeed to post the title of my North Star Liberty blog posts as Tweets. Many media outlets are also doing this with their RSS feeds.
Before long, you'll "get" Twitter, and gradually tailor your use of the service to inform, connect, and communicate as you like it. Welcome to the Twitterverse.