Many people have formed an impression that Twitter is online status update area for people to put exactly what they are doing at that moment in time. These type of "tweets," as they are called, don't resonate with many people. I often hear comments like "I don't need to know that someone is brushing their teeth" or "Why do I care if someone is drinking coffee at this very moment?"
To be fair, this was part of the original vision of Twitter. The initial question on the interface was "What are you doing?"
What happened over time was that individuals, groups and businesses began to share other types of information that were relevant to them. For example, businesses began listing jobs, posting announcements, answering customer questions, gathering customer input, and sharing relevant links to their industry. Individuals began to organize into groups sharing information about hobbies, places, weather, readings, and videos.
Twitter has become more than a status information share, it's a forum of information where anyone can search and participate. As a symbolic change, and to better reflect the nature of information posted in the tool, Twitter changed their status line from "What are you doing?" to "What's happening?"
If you are not familiar with Twitter, it will help to have a visual of this to see the power behind the tool. I'll use Suwanee as my subject example for a brief "how-to" demonstration. Attached to this post you'll find a video that describes some basic searches for information and people related to Suwanee. You'll see job listsings, news articles, library information, and even government announcements. Suwanee is just my example; you will quickly see how Twitter can become a powerful information forum for you to whatever topics are relevant in your life.
But before you view the video, here are a few Twitter notes that will help.
- A hashtag is way to categorize tweets with keywords by placing a pound (#) symbol in front of the keyword. Since tweets are limited to 140 characters, it may be easier to have a short list of keywords about a topic to make it easier for others to find. For example you might see something like "Farmer's Market at Town Center Park today. #Suwanee #FreshVegetables"
- By default, information posted on Twitter is public for anyone to see. There are settings to restrict tweets, but unlike some popular services like Facebook, Twitter information is meant to be shared. You'll get a sense for this when see the type of information that is now most common.
- The amount of information on Twitter is overwhelming to process. To make the best use of the tool, you need to setup information filters, searches, or lists of people. This enables you to filter the information to what is relevant to you.
Now you're ready to watch the demonstration.