So your new to twitter ?
I hope this blog explains some of the best and worst of twitter and hopefully will guide you towards an interesting and positive experience.
Firstly I should say “BE CAREFUL”
Why be careful? Well unlike other social networks you may have used before, such as Facebook or Linked-in, twitter is an ‘Open Forum’ which basically means anyone in the world can, and will see, what you have said.
When you say something on, for example, Facebook, only your circle of friends will (normally) see what you have said, whereas on twitter everyone, even if they are not on twitter, can see it.
Secondly, as with all things in life, there are good people and bad people on twitter. You only have to look at a celebrity or a footballer and see the vile & horrible things that people say to them, and after 20 seconds you will want to leave twitter. But bear with me, and you will be able to avoid (as much as possible) these awful people.
My experience of twitter is good, but these golden rules should be followed, (listed below). Also when being careful, do not divulge anything too personal, such as your address and then wonder why you were burgled when you were tweeting about being on a three month holiday to the Riviera, or giving away your bank and password !
Ok, so just like any communication, we think twice about what we say, and even though we may have strong opinions on something, be prepared for ‘some nutter, somewhere in the world’, to give you a nasty reply. (I will talk about blocking & privacy later)
So, who do I follow ? And what does that mean. Well it means you will follow that person and all their tweets will appear on your time-line. (Sorry, timeline is the word for all those tweets you see on your screen when you log-on).
Choose carefully who you follow, I’ll not tell you who to follow, but if I may suggest, try and find people with common interests as yourself. For example, I am a Manchester City fan, and therefore the majority of people who I follow are Manchester City fans. By doing this in the early stages with people who share your interests, you can slowly learn how this whole twitter thing works. In time, you will then become more used to twitter and encompass other groups of people, such as charity, finance, travel or whatever you are interested in.
Who’s following me ?? Now by the time you read this, you will probably have about 10 followers, most of whom you do not know, nor have any interest in. These are what we call ‘Bot’s or Spammers’. They are nothing more than a computer invented, false account that just wants to get your attention in order to sell you something. Do not be under the illusion that these Spammers like you, know you or are even interested in you. Just like the the rich Prince in Nigeria that e-mails you about sending you money, it’s not real. Also the bank or charity that follow you are not real.
“But Madonna is following me?” …. Come on, think about it, is she really ? Yes, 10,000 people may have been sucked into believing its her and followed her back, but please, take everything on twitter (and any other social network) with a huge ‘pinch of salt’ and mix it together with a large portion of skepticism !
People may not be who they say they are, usually they are fake celebrities or fake family members of a celebrity. I was joking with Stephen Fry’s wife about this the other day, the fake account did not realise Stephen Fry wasn’t married !!
So always ask “why is this person following me”?. Now the chances are, the persons following you may have similar interests as you, and are interested in your tweets and opinions. The world cup is a good example, or during the London riots in 2010 more information was passed by twitter that through the media. The person who has started following you may have become aware of you because you and someone else have a mutual friend on twitter, or they could be the ‘nutter’ I referred to earlier.
Ok, I’ve followed some people, some have followed me back and it’s going ok, but why are people saying “Followback” to me. Well the short answer is that some people ask you to follow them back as you may be able to share thoughts and opinions, sadly others are only interested in gaining followers for themselves. I will address this later (if this blog is a success)
Now your tweeting away, your reading other people’s views and then like a bolt of thunder, some clown says something nasty to you.
Be hard skinned
I consider myself to be a friendly tweeter’ engaging with others, even those of a different football club, but I once got drawn into a row with another City fan about homeless people. I should have just blocked him, but learn from MY mistakes, remember everyone can see what you say, and before you know it, the whole world is taking sides. Do you really care if ABC123 or whatever their twitter name is, un-follows you ?? No, so Block and move on.
“What’s a Re-tweet?“. Has someone ever pinched your joke on Facebook and you have seen them get ‘300 likes’ and all the time you are sitting there thinking “that’s my joke, you nicked that from me”? Well a RT (re-tweet) is a way of saying to your followers, that you like something and want to share it with them, whilst still giving credit to the original person who first said it.
It must be said, that you should be careful what you RT. At times I get mad, as a certain tea brand or shop may say “RT this to win a supply of tea bags for a year”. Ok, do you really want free tea bags ? Are the people who follow you actually interested in your desire to win free tea bags ?? A Ferrari maybe, but tea bags ? It’s your choice, but I hope it illustrates the point about thinking what you tweet.
Porn. This is the Internet, so your going to get porn. Out of no-where some “BOT” will send you a link and it will, believe me, it will be porn. It’s your choice, but remember these links do carry viruses.
Speaking of viruses, now would be a good time to mention some of the oldest tricks in the book. The current virus doing the rounds is where you receive a DM (Direct Message) that usually starts off with “Have you seen what this person is saying about you”, another favourite is “I’m laughing so much at this picture of you”. You can imagine the sort of wording, it’s designed to make you feel insecure and click on the link attached. Yes you’ve guessed it, one click nothing happens and behind the scenes, the virus has attacked you.
You can protect your tweets by selecting it in the settings part of the twitter home page. On the plus side, only those who you allow can see you tweets, but this is 2012 and anyone can copy the page and tell the world what you said, so it’s not fool proof. Speaking of privacy, my sister joined twitter recently, and the first thing I said was “get that picture off”. Until you are used to twitter, I personally advise either a blurred picture of yourself or an emblem or something. You may, in the early days fall for a scam, and you don’t want people knowing you just yet do you ?? Many of my City fans have distinctive City pictures such as the FA cup final or homer Simpson in a city shirt etc. in short be careful how much you share. Certainly having a photo should encourage greater affinity with people, but are you sure that their picture is really them ???
If I may illustrate this further. I was dining in one of my favourite restaurants in London when a man came over to me and said “Your Neil Brownhill”… Immediately I thought, are you a client ? A Solicitor, Barrister or Judge whom I work with?? Before my mind started to panic he calmly said “You don’t really know me, but I’ve been following you on twitter for 6 months and I know how you really like this restaurant. Therefore, I have brought my partner here, based on your tweets. I noticed you were tweeting from here tonight and as your picture looks like you, then I put two and two together”
Now I know that my wife felt really uncomfortable about that incident, but it does illustrate the point clearly about your privacy.
So, some golden rules.
- Be careful
- Is Michael Jackson really following you (think about it)
- Learn to use the Block button
- You may think your right, but everyone is entitled to an opinion of their own
If this very basic introduction to twitter, I don’t want to put you off, but intend to guide you safely through this new phenomenon of social interaction. If you have enjoyed it, found it useful, please let me know. Also, if there are other questions or topics you feel could be of use in a second blog then again feedback is always good. These topic may be FollowFriday, using web based filters, lists, which app for my phone/tablet/PC or Mac ? I don’t have all the answers, but I will try and cover as many as possible.
Finally, why are you on twitter? What do you want? Please spare a minute and read my blog about the positive things about twitter called “Good People” (The kindness of strangers)