I finally caved and opened a Twitter account yesterday for my new blog, The Seattle Do-Gooder. I’ve been putting this off for a long time, mostly because I’m bored with social networking. Plus, Twitter has all these @ signs and # tags that leave me confused and scratching my head.
For me, the easiest way to figure anything out is to take the plunge and give it a try. I wanted to make a tweet about the Harry Potter Alliance, an interesting non-profit group that’s using the Harry Potter series to Do Good.
I learned a lot while formulating my first real tweet, so I thought I’d share the experience with you. If you’ve never used Twitter before, I hope that you find some of this information helpful. My suggestion is to just go ahead and try it out – it wasn’t so bad. I might even start a personal Twitter account. We’ll see!
First, what is the # sign for and what is it called? In Twitter, this is called a hash tag. If you put the # sign before a word or series of words, your tweet will automatically be grouped with other tweets with the same hash tag.
For instance, in my first tweet, I used #HarryPotter and #NYTimes. After the tweet is made, you can click on the hash tag and see all other tweets relating to these topics.
I wanted to add a link to a Harry Potter Alliance video in my tweet, but the URL wouldn’t fit. For this, I had to use a website like TinyURL.com to transform a long URL into a short one that’s Twitterable (or is it Tweetable?).
Here’s how it worked —
I typed in this URL into TinyURL’s converter:
And this is what TinyURL did to it (now only 26 characters):
Even after downsizing my URL, I was still over my 140-character limit. I quickly realized that there were extra words in the tweet that weren’t important to the message I was trying to convey. I’m used to making Facebook posts, where I can still speak in full sentences. In Twitter, not so much.
Here’s what the old tweet looked like (166 characters):
The revised tweet looked like this (131 characters):
For my second tweet, I decided to play with the @ sign and sent a tweet to the Harry Potter Alliance, thanking them for Doing Good. To do this, I typed @TheHPAlliance within the tweet. This sends them a message, letting them know that I tweeted about/at them.
They can then respond or retweet it (that’s what RT means in Twitter), and my post will show up on their page. When this happens, their followers will see my username and hopefully come to my Twitter page to follow me. Even though I doubt that will happen at this point, that’s how it works and it’s a good way to get your name out there.