You’ve heard people talk about this “Twitter” thing, and your thinking to yourself, why should I care? Do I want to get involved with something that sounds like “Twitter”?
The answer is a resounding YES! – Twitter just isn’t about folks posting what they had for lunch, or where they are going after work. (OK, there are still some who post like that…) But for the most part Twitter is a tool that Wireless LAN Professionals can use to help you in your career, help in your educational pursuits, and even with your Wireless Network Troubleshooting issues.
Like many other things in life, what you receive from Twitter is directly related to how much effort you put into it. You can make Twitter be as helpful, or as useless as you want.
I’ve been using Twitter for years, and it has been a fantastic place to learn more about Wi-Fi, more about all sorts of technical aspects of 802.11, as well as a great place to find friends and colleagues who share the same passions as you do.
First Steps – Getting Started
The first thing you need to do is setup an account at http://www.twitter.com – click on SignUp. You’ll be prompted for a Username. You can use a ‘handle’, or I chose to just use a unique version of my name. My username is KeithRParsons. In the Twitter-World you’d find me at @KeithRParsons.
Note: To say this out loud, you’d say “At Keith R. Parsons” – and the link on the Twitter site would be http://twitter.com/#!/KeithRParsons.
You can also add a ‘TagLine’ to your account so people can learn a bit about you. Including any links you might want to add to your personal or business web address. Be descriptive, yet concise. People will also learn about your likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests through your on-going tweets.
Next Up – Stop Using the Twitter Webpage
There are many Twitter clients – even the worst of them is better than the Twitter website. There are Twitter clients available for any OS, Windows, Mac OS X, iOS or Android. Even official Twitter apps on most platforms. I personally use the Twitter app on Mac OS X, and one called Osfoora on my iOS devices. Find one you are comfortable with, but in the beginning you could just go with the free Twitter apps.
Start Following People
Your “Twitter Stream” will be pretty much vacant until you start to follow people. Who to follow you might ask? Well many great people in the Wireless LAN industry are already active in posting.
If you want to follow people involved in the Wireless Networking or WLAN fields, you can check out this list with descriptions of each at http://wlanpros.com/follow.
You could also use the ‘Search’ feature in your Twitter client, looking for the Hash Tag of #WirelessWednesday – you’ll find lots more like-minded folks to start interacting with. Feel free to branch out and start following others, family members, friends, etc. And share your Twitter handle with your own community.
Now that you’ve started following some folks in our industry, it’s time to get involved. Engage in conversations. Don’t just listen – but actively ask people questions or ask for help in a given situation. Remember, you only have 140 characters. You you’ll have to work on your editing skills. When you engage with others, people will notice, and start following you back.
Don’t just listen – but actively HELP others online. In this Twitter community, nothing is valued more than received prompt and timely help. If you read a question, and even think you know the answer. Get involved and take that chance and post your answer.
If you’re watching someone’s posts, and you like them. Respond with comments. (OK, if you don’t like their posts you can respond as well, just be careful as its easy to mis-construe comments that are only 140 characters)
Learn the Lingo
Twitter has some terms and techniques that might take a bit to understand. Lets go over some of the basics here.
Using URL Shorteners
Some longer URL’s would easily use up all 140 characters. You can use your own URL shorteners like bit.ly or the like. Or if you just put the HTML Link at the end of your message, Twitter will automatically shorten the link for you.
Using the @ Sign
If you start your message with an @ sign, the message will only go to the intended recipient, AND all those folks who follow both of you. But it won’t be sent to those who only follow one or the other in the conversation. Remember, if you lead with the @ sign, remember it will not be going to your entire following. You might want to edit the message to move the @ sign out of the first position if you want all to see the message.
This is a great way to start a conversation with someone. Just sent a message with their handle in the front.
What about that funny # character?
If you put a # in front of a word, Twitter will turn it into a link. This is called a “HashTag”. Please don’t over-use hashtags – a little is fine, but too much is just too much.
If someone follows you, you can send them a Direct Message that no one else should see. This is more like an IM message. Most Twitter apps have a single button or drop down choice to DM someone. Using DM is a way to carry on a more private conversation.
What are all these RT’s for?
Using a “ReTweet” is a way to take someone else’s Twitter message and “Re-Tweet” it to your followers. There is a built-in Twitter version that doesn’t allow editing – it merely forwards this message on with a tag showing that you sent it.
If you want to ReTweet and edit, be sure to give credit where you received it. Then add any comments of your own below.
Of all the tips and techniques listed below there are only two that really matter. First – get your own Twitter account setup. This should take mere minutes. Second – Get Engaged! Follow those with the same passions, and engage in conversations and responses. You’ll soon be Tweeting with the best of them!
I look forward to seeing your engagement on twitter!