What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social network similar to Facebook except you are limited to 140 characters. A major difference between Twitter and Facebook is that, while in general relationships in Facebook are usually meant to be symmetrical (friends on Facebook can see each others’ update), in Twitter, this is not always the case.
If you want to see the updates made on Twitter by an account, say Justin Bieber’s account (which happens to be @justinbieber), you are supposed to follow him or to put it another way you are to be a follower of his.
The interesting thing about Twitter is that, there is no requirement for someone you follow to follow you back. So in the case of Justin Bieber’s Twitter account, he is followed by 48 million Twitter accounts (so all 48 million will see updates he posts), but he himself follows far fewer accounts.
So don’t be disappointed or offended if some celebrity or even normal person you follow on Twitter doesn’t follow you back.
The whole beauty of Twitter is you try to ‘curate’ interesting people to follow, finding people who tend to produce interesting updates, be it thoughts or sharing of articles. So for example you might following noted library automation expert Marshall Breeding (@mbreeding) for library tech news or try following Barbara Fister (@bfister) for issues like information literacy and broader intellectual freedom issues as they pertain to library and academia.
Some people I am following on Twitter
Most Twitter accounts are public and the updates can be seen by anyone on the web. Also note that with a public Twitter account, other users can follow you automatically without your explicit approval, so don’t tweet anything you don’t want your loved ones or employer to see. 🙂
Private accounts are possible, where your updates cannot be seen except by those you allow to follow you. But I think this defeats the purpose of Twitter.
Some other terminology you need:
What is a Tweet?
How do I use @ ?
@ – Use this to direct a tweet to a specific user-account.
For example, if you tweet
The Twitter account @aarontay (me!) will get a notification a tweet was directed at me. This is also known as a Twitter mention. Do note, that anyone can send a tweet to you this way, even accounts not following you.
You may notice I added #23mthingsPhSG to the tweet, that’s a hash tag which I will explain later.
What is DM?
DM – This stands for direct message. Tweets sent with @username are still public and anyone can see them (though the user mentioned will get a notification). If you want a message that can be seen only by a specific person, use DM.
For example, if you tweet:
D aarontay Hi this is a private message
Only the Twitter user @aarontay will see the message. The catch here is, you can send DMs only to your followers.
What are hash tags and how are they used?
As a librarian or library staff, you must be familiar with the idea and purpose of subject headings or tags. Hash tags are similar, they can be used to organize tweets of the same topic together. If you attend conferences, a conference hashtag will be advertised to be used. So, if a person wanted to collate all the tweets from that conference, you could search for that hashtag.
We will be using the hash tag #23mthingsPhSG for our Twitter chat on 18th January, 10:30am.
What other terms are used on Twitter?
Definitely check out the definition of a Retweet as well as the Twitter glossary here.