This is an introduction to Twitter, plus a list of our favorite tips for excelling at microblogging.
Signing up for twitter is simple. Just create a sign in at Twitter.com and follow the three steps to start blogging in 140 characters or less. When setting up a user account, keep the design simple and keep the "About" section conversational but effective (like an elevator speech).
Twitter is its own universe with its own language. Thus, a brief dictionary:
Tweet-The correct term for a microblog post on Twitter.
Twitterverse-Anything happening at twitter.com.
Tweeple/Twerson-People/person on Twitter.
Followers-Folks who subscribe to your tweets, also known as your tweeps.
@-When this symbol precedes a username in a tweet, that tweet will appear in the other user's feed. The @ symbol is critical to maximizing interaction with other tweeple.
Retweet-When one user shares something written by another, that's called retweeting. It's signaled by using "RT @username" with the tweet content following. Not giving credit to the generator of the initial tweet is the Twitterverse equivalent of plagiarism. Not cool.
Hashtag-Refers to use of the # symbol preceeding a phrase. Hashtags create trends so folks can see what everyone in the twitterverse is most chatty about at a certain point in time. An example might be #brittanyspears or #egyptianrevolution.
Direct Message-Private messages can be sent to folks using "DM username." These can only be sent to a follower and will only appear in the named user's feed.
1. Rarely let a tweet go without @, #, or RT. Each tweet should refer to another user or topic. Microblogging a giant conversation and tweets without links are the party equivalent of talking to a wall.
2. Shorten the URL. Sharing links via Twitter is a key function, so don't let the 140 character limit thwart your plans. Shorten the links using free shortening software courtesy of the Internet. Commonly used sites include TinyURL or bit.ly.
3. Get a desktop Twitter manager. Free software can be downloaded and used to manage twitter feeds and incorporate them with other social media. TweetDeck, Seesmic and HootSuite are popular examples.
4. Show variety. Don't keep tweeting the same type of thing over and over. It's OK to tweet about a newspaper article that mentions the department, but don't use Twitter only to share those self-promoting articles.
5. Keep it up to date. Tweets are only relevant or read in the period of time that the updates remain on a user's news feed. If you're not tweeting, no one's checking you out. A good goal for tweeting should be about as often as one eats-but remember, quality is still more important than quantity.