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Social Networking Using Twitter

What is Twitter?

Twitter (www.twitter.com) is a website that allows you to post and read short messages that other people have posted from around the world, for free! These messages are called tweets.

Twitter is a social networking site that provides a place for people with similar interests to connect, share information and keep up with each other.

Twitter is also a micro-blogging site. This means its content and purpose is similar to a regular blog (See Blogging), but the posts are much shorter.

Twitter is a great way to quickly distribute news because it's fast, free, easy and two-way. Twitter is rapidly becoming a widely used vehicle for sharing and discussing up-to-the-second information between individuals, groups and organisations around the globe. It has the potential to be a valuable tool for social movements, and the opportunities it offers are only just beginning to be explored.

Twitter can be used in a free expression campaign to:

  • Broadcast real-time news alerts
  • Issue public safety announcements
  • Let people know when and where an action is taking place
  • Ask for feedback on your campaign
  • Drive traffic to your website about a campaign
Things to consider:

Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access.

Twitter is like a personalised newsfeed. You can follow other tweets and access information that would otherwise be unknown to you. People often tweet links to articles, blogs, videos. It can take a few weeks to decide which tweets you want to keep following, as you develop a community that you want to share ideas with. Twitter is a window into a different world, a way of seeing how individuals within a certain community interact and communicate with each other.

It can be used to directly get the ear of politicians, journalists and activists, instead of competing with hundreds of press releases.

Twitter is informal and personal. Information can be tweeted without verification. It is a way of hearing rumours and seeing trends, before anything is reported on in an official way. It is an underground conversation.

It is also a way to circulate official information. For example, if your organisation has released an alert about a journalist arrested, by tweeting this information you can let people know and call them to action. "Editor of Daily News was arrested today in Tubok Square. 5 p.m. Protest in front of city jail. Add hyperlink to alert."

Twitter is a tool for rapid, almost constant, communication. The expectation is usually that people post several times a day, and the more often you post, the more likely you are to attract and retain followers.

As a result, in order for your use of Twitter to be effective, you should post at least daily - if not several times a day. The short length of posts makes this feasible; however, it is still a substantial time commitment.

Also, Twitter does not currently support all languages. You can Twitter in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Japanese.

If you do not have the human resources required to make such a time commitment, you might want to think about using another online social networking tool for your e-Advocacy campaign (See E-Advocacy).

How do I use Twitter?
What you need
  • A computer with Internet access.
Step A: Sign up for an account
  1. Go to www.twitter.com
  2. Select your language in the bottom right-hand corner.
  3. Click the green "Sign up now" button to sign up for a free account.
    • Fill out your name, username, password, email.
    • Your "Username" is the name that will be visible on Twitter, and what people will use to find you. Using the name of your organisation is probably the best idea. If you are creating a personal account, remember that you don't have to use your real name if you don't want to.
    • Click on "Create my account."
    • On the next screen, enter your email password, then click on "Learn more."
Step B: Decide what you want to say
  1. In general, Twitter messages or tweetsanswer the question: "What are you doing right now?"
    • But you can also do things like post a link, express a reaction or pose a question.
    • Messages can be no longer than 140 characters.
  1. On the "Home" page, type your message in the box on the top of the screen and hit "Update".
  2. You've posted a tweet!
Step C: Connect
  1. Find friends and organisations whose updates you want to follow.
    • Click "Find People" in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
    • Click "Find on Twitter".
    • Search for individuals or groups (i.e. newspapers, NGOs, politicians) that you want to follow. People may be listed under a screen name, rather than their real name.
    • Once you've found someone you want to hear from on Twitter, click the "Follow" button next to their username and latest tweet.
    • You see the latest tweets posted by everyone you're following on your Twitter "Home" page.
    • People you follow will often follow you in return!
  1. See what people are talking about or Twittering.
    • On the Twitter homepage, type in a name or topic you're interested in next to "Search."
    • Click on "Search" to find out what others are tweeting about this topic.
Step D: Make it easier for people to find you
  1. Fill in account information.
    • Click "Settings" in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
    • Remember to consider your safety when choosing what information to fill in (i.e. you may decide not to provide your real name).
Once you've got a Twitter account, you can also send tweets from your mobile phone.

What you need
  • A mobile phone with Internet access.
Remember: Even though Twitter doesn't charge for SMS (Short Message Service) or text-messaging, your mobile phone company probably does. Make sure you contact your mobile phone service provider and find out about SMS and text-messaging costs before starting to use Twitter on your phone.

To send tweets to your mobile phone
  1. Sign in to your Twitter account.
  2. Click "Settings" in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  3. Click the "Mobile" tab.
  4. Follow Twitter's instructions according to your country.
Tips and Tricks
  • To post a link, include the website address in your update and Twitter will automatically convert it into a link that can be clicked on. To stay under the 140 character limit, use sites such as http://bit.ly/ and http://www.tiny.cc/ to convert a long website address into a shorter one with the click of a button.
  • If your tweet is intended for one user in particular, type the @ symbol followed by that user's screen name before your message.
REFERENCES

Twitter's How-To: An in-depth look at how to use Twitter.
CNET: Newbie's Guide to Twitter
DoshDosh: 17 Ways You Can Use Twitter
Mashable: How to Start a Petition on Twitter
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter

Twitter support:
http://help.twitter.com/forums/10711/entries/18375

Latest Tweet:

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