Twitter: What It Is and Why To Use It

For those that don’t know what Twitter is, it’s a really good way of keeping up-to-date with people, companies and basically anyone with a Twitter account.

Basic Jargon

Tweet – a short message posted by a Twitter user.  Limited to 140 characters.  It’s public and viewable by everyone (unless you choose to make your Tweets private)
Retweet – A Tweet repeated by another Twitter user.
Hashtag – a keyword within a Tweet.  It’s created by prefixing a word with a # symbol e.g #android.  Searching for a hashtag will bring up all the Tweets which contain that word
Mention – if someone mentions your Twitter account in their Tweet.  To mention you prefix the username with an @ symbol e.g. @mihtcdesire.

How does it work?

  1. You sign-up on Twitter for a free account
  2. You find the people you’re interested in
  3. You press the follow button on their profile
  4. Plus you can post your own Tweets too, so your followers will find out any updates you have to share.

That’s it.  You just view your Twitter page and whenever someone you’re following posts a Tweet it’ll appear on that page.

For HTC Desire Owners

Of course as a HTC Desire owner, your phone plays very nicely with Twitter.  It comes with the “Peep” application.  You can use this to sign into your Twitter account, and whenever someone you follow posts a message you’ll be notified pretty quickly.  You can reply to messages, or retweet something you want to share with your own followers.  If you’re not fond of Peep, there’s alternatives in the Market including Google’s official Twitter app (called Twitter), Seesmic, Touiteur and so on.

Why Use Twitter?

  1. Fresh information – as soon as something major happens that you’re interested in, you’ll find out very quickly
    For example, if you’re following the MiHTCDesire Twitter account, then you’ll know within minutes whenever there’s a new blog article
  2. It’s simple – as explained above, it’s really simple and easy to use.  To be honest, I’d never used Twitter until starting this website, but when I did use it I found it so easy to share news, ask readers questions or even forward on questions I couldn’t answer personally to get replies from other Desire owners.
  3. It’s relevant – you choose the people you follow.  Before following them you can check their profile page to see the kind of tweets they post.
    For example, MiHTCDesire is dedicated to the HTC Desire so I’ll post Tweets that are solely related to that.  I know the last week saw a few big tech headlines such as the new Xbox 360 Slim, and the release of iOS4 but of course that’s not the focus of that Twitter account so it wasn’t posted.
  4. Plenty of people to follow – a lot of people, and even massive companies have a Twitter account which they keep up to do with the latest news and info.  Some even offer special promotions via Twitter.
    For example, HTC, Vodafone, O2 and even Google have their own Twitter account
  5. It’s concise (and generally precise) – for each update Twitter restrict you to 140 characters to write your message.  That means no ramblings or long-winded essays which could easily be condensed into a much shorter for example “Use Twitter, it’s awesome”.
  6. More information – A lot of people, (myself included) will post more stuff on Twitter than on a dedicated website just for convenience.
    For example: when I hear about a new application it’s quick and easy to write a few words about it on Twitter and share with everyone.   For that kind of thing it’s not exactly worth writing a whole new article.  Plus I hate writing long pieces on my phone and only blog from my computer, whereas a Twitter update is much similar to just writing a simple text message.

Drawbacks

The main drawback of Twitter I’ve found is some of the mundane things that people post.  On my personal account, I follow a web designer who sometimes tweets links to excellent web-related articles and news that he comes across, which I find really useful for my work.  Unfortunately a lot of the time he only posts really petty updates about his life “Picked a snot today, stretched at least 35mm”.

Conclusion (in 140 characters)

Twitter is a great way of getting the latest info. It’s like a custom newspaper, but the headlines only. Plus it plays nice with the Desire.