In part two in the Twitter Decoded series, I’m going to cover two of the bare-bones basics of Twitter, the 140 character limit and the concept of following.
Keeping it Simple (140 Characters or Less)
Twitter is all about keeping it short, sweet, and to the point. Tweets are a maximum of 140 characters. If you suffer from chronic verbosity (like I do), Twitter can prove quite challenging. Adding to the challenge is the fact that, being the old curmudgeon that I am, I blatantly refuse to employ many of the acronyms and abbreviations that are ruining our language (another topic for another time). So my tweets (and text messages) all include proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation (including Oxford commas). But I’m an adventurous type of fellow who’s always game for new challenges…
Who is @gratefuldead and Why Are They Following Me?
A billion or so people on this oblate spheroid we call home are using Facebook to connect with friends, family, and colleagues around the world. However, most Facebook users, myself included, tend to limit their Facebook friends to people they actually know in the “real” non-digital world. Twitter, on the other hand, provides a platform which lends itself to making connections with strangers who share common interests.
As a matter of fact, I probably wouldn’t recognize the majority of my tweeps (a portmanteau of “Twitter peeps”) if they walked in the room. In fact, for my personal Twitter account, I’ve never used an avatar which featured my actual face, so none of my tweeps would recognize me either. I’ve always used a Simpsonized version of myself which you see to the left of this paragraph. (To create your own Simpsons Avatar, visit the Simpsons Movie website. Look for the link to Create Your Simpsons Avatar)
On Facebook, an individual sends a Friend Request to a person. If the recipient accepts the request, the two people are “friends” and are able to see each others posts. On Twitter, it’s a little different. You can follow pretty much anyone you want (unless they have their tweets protected which is another topic I’ll cover at a later date), but just because you follow someone doesn’t mean they’ll follow you back. So while you may see Tweets posted by @gratefuldead, unless they’re following you, @gratefuldead won’t see your posts. Got it??? P.S. Follow Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) if you’d like to follow someone who won’t follow you back.
So the @ symbol… What’s up with that??
The ampersat (aka the “at symbol”) has been used to signify the domain in an e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for so long that many people are confused when they see Twitter handles preceded by the ampersat. Basically, the use of an ampersat on Twitter signifies that your message is being directed to that individual. So, if you send out a tweet and put @rhargismccc in the tweet, it means you’re mentioning me and Twitter will notify me of the mention. Bear in mind that when you mention someone in a tweet, you are NOT sending them a private message, so be careful!! You’re still tweeting publicly and anyone else can see what you’re saying… Heck, the Library of Congress is archiving tweets, so your great-great-great-great-grandchildren will be able to explore the achives and learn important stuff about their ancestors, like how excited you were about the latest episode of “Girls” on HBO, or how much you didn’t like your lunch from McDonald’s, etc.
So I hope this has made a little bit of sense to you. I’ll be back soon with part three of the Twitter Decoded series…