twitter whale

Twitter.

One word that has totally sucked me in. I will admit–I’m in love. Addicted. Totally enamored of this social meda tool that is creeping up on Facebook and MySpace, putting the estimated number of unique monthly visitors at between 6 and 8 million. (Wikipedia)

Twitter is the brainchild of Jack Dorsey who posted his first tweet on March 21, 2006.

I didn’t make the leap until a month or so a go. Now, I open it before my email, before my blog, before my writing. Which is baaaad very bad and I know this. I’m like a kid with a new toy, unable to put it down.

So what exactly is twitter? It’s an opportunity to follow and share with people snippets of thoughts or activities in 140 characters or less. Like any social media, when you open a profile at twitter.com you are given options to customize your page with a unique picture and background.

But you are totally alone in the twitterverse. You must venture out and search for people to follow. Follow? Why would you want to follow people? Twitter is about connections with people. The updates of those that you choose to follow will display on your home page.

I would suggest using the “search” function at the bottom of your home page to find people who interest you. When the search screen appears you can type in keywords like “author” “editor” or in my case “multiple sclerosis”. A list of tweeters pops up and if you click on their picture it will take you to their home page where you can read their profile and check out their recent tweets. If you want to include them, simply click the “follow” button below their picture. Easy-peasy.

Soon, others will begin following you. Once you have followers you should try to post an update a couple of times a week. To increase your readership, I would suggest popping on twitter at least once a day and spending a few minutes updating and replying.

Why reply to other’s tweets? Because this isn’t all about you. Move your mouse to the right of their post and a star and arrow appear. When you click on the arrow, the @NAME appears in your update box. Simply type your response to their post and hit update. You’ve started a give and take conversation very similiar to instant messaging.

Scroll down the right side of your page. There’s an @YourNAME tab. Click on that tab and it will display all messages from people who replied to your posts.

So why do I do this? First and foremost … I LOVE IT! Ask my homegirls at my local writing chapter. I sing the praises of Twitter all the time. I’m following a little over 600 people and 450 are following me. It’s advantageous to keep your follow and followERs pretty close so you don’t look like a spammer. Yes, they’re there.

And you’ll know them. You’ll get a notice that someone with 1,679 follows and 18 followers and 2 posts has chosen to follow you. They’re spammers. Why? I have no idea. (But I don’t understand why someone named v$CKy emails me every other day to offer me products to increase the size of a penis I obviously don’t have. Anyway …)

Celebrities are jumping on the twitter wagon. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and Larry King of CNN (@CNN) had a race to 1 million followers. Ashton topped the mark yesterday. Morning show celebrities Ellen Degeneres (@TheEllenShow), Al Roker (@AlRoker) and Elizabeth Hasselbeck (@EHasselbeck) are tweeting. And yesterday Oprah (@Oprah) did her first tweet with tens of thousands of people following her before she even posted her first update.

Purists believe this kind of exposure will crumble the original purpose of the twittersphere. Since I too jumped in without having any expectations, I’m not sure if they will change the flavor of twitter. I guess that remains to be seen.

All I know is that it’s a very powerful tool. I have met other writers and editors and enjoy the information people have shared. I try to be entertaining and hope it will be enough to pique people’s curiousity and perhaps they’ll check out my books. Not sure if it will happen but in the meantime, I’m having fun hanging out over there. Come join me on TWITTER!

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