Talking Twitter and Facebook
Seven years ago in March, Twitter was born.
And although its beginnings haven’t been as widely chronicled as the volatile early years of Facebook, the 140-character social media platform is everywhere.
But what is it?
Twitter, as the company says in its help center, is “an information network made up of 140-character messages called Tweets. It’s an easy way to discover the latest news related to subjects you care about.”
It’s free to set up your own Twitter account, and who you follow and what you tweet is up to you.
You need a computer with Internet access; log on to twitter.com. And of course, for your mobile devices, there’s an app for that.
Putting Twitter or Facebook on your phone or tablet makes it easy to check in anywhere, anytime.
Twitter can be just about anything you want it to be, from telling your followers about your day to being a news source.
One joke jabs at “that thing where you tell people you’re putting on your socks.”
Middle school, high school and college students have Twitter accounts. Adults and retirees have jumped into the social media platform.
It’s evolved into a vehicle in the media to instantly report news. Reporters can tweet breaking news from their phones faster than they can log onto their computers and post it on their websites.
Many newspapers and television stations have a Twitter corner on their websites that feed tweets from their reporters. They all ask people to follow them on Facebook for breaking news, contests and the like.
A few basics about Facebook for the novices:
■ Wall: This is your home page. You post on your wall. Friends can write on your wall. Think of it as cyber graffiti.
■ Friend: When someone asks you to “friend” them, it just means they want to connect to your Facebook page. Who you friend is up to you.
■ Like: When one of your friends posts something on Facebook, you have a couple of options to respond. The quickest is to just hit the “Like” button, the little thumbs up icon. It just tells people, well, you like what was posted.
■ Comment: When you want to chime in on your friend’s latest photo of their new baby, hit the “comment” link and type away, whether it’s “Aww, too cute!” or a more lengthy congratulatory note.
■ Share: This has become popular with recipes and videos posted on someone’s Facebook page. Hit “Share” and that post will be added to your wall.
Twitter is a sports fan’s paradise.
High school seniors often announce what school they’re signing with on Twitter. Reporters troll five-star athletes’ accounts to find out if it’s Duke or Kansas.
You live in Grand Junction, but you’re from, say, Dallas. You grew up reading the Dallas Morning News for all your Cowboys and Texas Rangers news.
No problem. @dallasnews is the official Twitter site for the newspaper. From there, you can branch out, following specific reporters, bloggers and team sites.
Troy Aikman (@TroyAikman) has his own page. Ditto for John Elway (@johnelway). Not surprisingly, Elway’s followers have topped 200,000, Aikman is nearing one million followers.
College and professional sports teams use Twitter to disseminate information, from in-game scores to weather cancellations, schedule changes and touting the latest awards for their athletes.
Once you set up your Twitter account, you simply start searching for people, companies, schools or teams. You find what you’re looking for, click “follow” and sit back and watch the information flow to you.
A few things to note, however:
There are parody Twitter accounts out there, so beware. Several celebrities, sports personalities, etc., have paid to verify their accounts so their followers know they’re getting the real deal. If you see a blue check mark on someone’s profile page, you can trust the source is legit.
If you’re new to Twitter, here are a few tips and explanations:
■ Tweep: People who follow you are your tweeps, like your peeps (people).
■ Retweet: When you want to share something tweeted by someone else with your followers, you “retweet.” You can also reply to something that’s on your timeline, opening up a dialogue with the other person.
■ Message: Starting a tweet with an address, such as @johnelway, sends that message to not only Elway, but all of his followers. If you just want to mention Elway in a tweet, you can put the @johnelway in the middle of the tweet, or simply put a period before the “at” symbol if you’re starting your tweet with his handle.
■ Direct message: If you want to get a private message to someone, you can direct message (DM) them through the “settings” link. A helpful tip: You can only DM someone who follows you.
■ Hashtags: What’s with the pound sign? Hashtags, the # symbol, categorize tweets so you can search for comments about one subject. It also helps determine what’s trending on Twitter. Typing #jucoWS at the end of a tweet will allow Tweetaholics find everything tweeted about the tourney.
■ Pictures? You bet. You can attach photos to a tweet, either taking the photo on your phone and attaching it, or you can attach a photo from your computer’s library. Instagram has become a popular photo tool for people on Twitter.
■ Links: Reporters use Twitter to let followers know what they’re writing about by posting the online URL address on their timeline. Any user can share web addresses through Twitter by posting the URL. If it’s too long, go to TinyURL.com, paste the long address in the translator and it will create a shorter web address.
And finally, make sure your tweets are your own. If you see something you like, by all means, retweet, but give the original Tweep his due.