Social Media Monday : Time to join Twitter

by Lara Last time we talked about Twitter I told you why I thought twitter was worthwhile and why I think YOU should join.  This time we're going to talk about how.

Step one - let's go visit

Step two : Sign up.

I painted a big arrow on my image to help, but here's a link right to the sign up page too :) (I am determined to make this as easy as possible so you'll want to give it a whirl)

Step three: Enter your information and choose a twitter name.

Choosing your twitter name can seem daunting. Many people just use their full name, that way nothing gets confusing. You can start with that, or pick something meaningful to you. If you have a blog, pick something related to increase the chance people will know who you are.  My blog name is Gliding Through Motherhood so my twitter name is Glidinglara.  Brie's blog is called Capital Mom and she is capitalmom on Twitter.  It doesn't have to be related, but it can.

That all being said, you can change it later, so don't sweat it too much.

Step four: Add friends

Once your account is set up it will look like this:

Click on #2 Find some friends now and you'll see this screen where you will type glidinglara and click on search.  Follow me, I'll be happy to help you find your way around twitter.

Once you've followed me, then I want you to follow these fabulous, supportive (and consenting) Ottawa tweeters:

capitalmom, beach_mama, pinkcb, KGrayDonald, craftyinottawa, somekindofmom, eisangel3, amyboughner, kidsincapital

Step five: Tweet something

Go to the section that says "What's happening" and say something. You can say anything under 140 characters.

You could start with "Hey @glidinglara, I signed up for twitter - now what?"

Because you included my name with @ in front of it, I will see it and I will reply to you - you will have just tweeted and interacted with a fellow tweeter all in one big first step!

You can see if anyone is talking to you by checking the @mentions tab under the what's happening window.

Step 6: Observing twitter

The main section to monitor is the Timeline section.  That's where everything that everyone you're following is saying will filter.  An important rule here is this. Don't think you have to read everything that everyone has said!

Nobody expects you to go back in time.  A Twitter timeline is like listening the radio, you hear what you hear when it's on. You don't record it and listen back to it later.

When I asked my friends on Twitter for tips for newbies, the most common response I got was "don't be afraid".  That's because we know it can be overwhelming. Don't be scared, just take it one step at a time.

Here are some things to help you understand:

If a tweet starts with a Twitter handle then only that person, and people who follow both you and that person can see the tweet. It means that someone is "speaking" directly to whoever's name is at the beginning of the tweet, and everyone else reading it is just listening in to the conversation.

If a tweet starts with RT it is being Retweeted.  Someone is simply passing along something interesting that someone else said. For example

RT @kidsincapital: Win 4 tickets to Trick-or-Treat to a Wicked Beat at the NAC!

Sometimes someone will RT and add a thought of their own. For example

Fun!! RT @kidsincapital: Win 4 tickets to Trick-or-Treat to a Wicked Beat at the NAC!

Hashtags are words preceded by #.  Like #kidsinthecapital.  If you search that hashtag (or click on it in a tweet) it will bring you to all the tweets that also included that hashtag.  They are used to talk about common themes and also for twitter parties (more on that in future posts).

There is more, but I fear overwhelming people. So instead, for now I invite you to ask questions in the comments, talk to me on twitter "@glidinglara, what have you gotten me in to?"

And I leave you with some tips from fellow tweeters:

- Use your real and authentic voice (Lara: twitter is a casual conversation, talk as you would in real life)

- Finding a good dozen of helpful tweeps (Lara: here's another one of those tw words.  Twitter + peeps = tweeps) to follow is key. Then interact! Ask questions!

- Ask a friend who's on twitter for help. Never would have figured out without it.

- Don't give up, don't be afraid to jump into conversations.

- People care what you have to say. Or if they don't care, they don't mind that you said it.

- Have fun! :)

Next time we'll talk about some of the other sites that you can use to help you with twitter, like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Twitterfall, Twitpic, etc.

Lara is mom to 4 year old Kiernan and 1 year old twins Quinn and Juliette. You can read her blog at Gliding Through Motherhood.