I haven't been online these past few days, except for the occasional peek (a comment here or there, a tweet or two). Life--which I do have outside the web--has been hectic. My three-year-old introduced me to InstaCare and Orthopediatricians when he hurt his arm so much so that he couldn't and wouldn't let me touch it. Three x-rays later and a busted eardrum (mine), the InstaCare radiologist pronounced his elbow normal. No broken bones or fractures. So, the attending doctor proceeded to pop it back into place with twists and complicated maneuvers, sending my poor little one into a screaming match to rival the ladies of Real Housewives of [insert city]. As the complicated manuevers did not produce the effect we were looking for (she did it 3 different times), they gave him a sling and a referral (someone who'd hopefully know what is wrong with him).
Fast forward to the next day: We met the Orthopediatrician (for you guys who don't know medical mumbo jumbo, that 's a kid's doctor who specializes in bones. No, not similar to the TV show Bones). He ordered a new set of x-rays (no screaming this time though my ears were still ringing from the previous one), took a look at it, and gave us the diagnosis: Non-displaced fracture on the humerus. Treatment: a cast for 3 weeks. (Three seems to be the magic number here).
I've now added butler/maid/servant/slave to my résumé. So please forgive me if I haven't been around much. I'm not ignoring or snubbing you. =)
In an attempt to be helpful, I've come up with a simple Twitter 101, for those of you new to Twitter, contemplating diving into Twitter, or don't know what the heck Twitter is.
I'm fairly new to Twitter myself, being only 3 months old after cracking out of my shell to join the blue twittering birds. But with the help of friends, Twitter has been a positive experience for me.
So. Here are my tips:
1. Twitter is PUBLIC, unless if you opted for a private account, in which case no one you don't know can ever see you. Private accounts are good if you're only looking to connect with family and friends and want to make sure that Mrs. Harrington down the street won't see your tweets about her bumpit obsession and how you suspect she's a vampire because the stray cats she keeps bringing home with her are never seen again (cat vampire?).
So when you sign up for Twitter, remember this: Anything you tweet is open for all to see. Don't do a Weiner and send us photos of your non-existent abs.
2. Twitter is a great way to connect with friends and meet new people. Find a niche that you're comfortable with. For me, my niche obviously is anything writing-related. I follow literary agents and writers/authors. But feel free to branch out every once in a while. Interested in Visual Arts? Follow artists. Foodie? Follow cooks. And so on and so forth.
3. Don't get hung up on numbers. People follow and unfollow all the time. Twitter is a tease of a lady, that first date who may or may not call you, a fickle imp. As long as you see that the followers who matter to you (i.e. friends) have not unfollowed you, then you're golden. Spambots can follow and unfollow at their will and you need not blink an eyelash.
4. Use @ replies when conversing with friends.
e.g. Me: @aghowardwrites (Anita Howard) Hey, how are you?
Anita: @writercherie I'm good.
If you don't use @ the tweep you're sending the tweet to won't see it or know that you're trying to talk to them.
5. When promoting someone, use . (period) before the attribution. For instance, you just read this awesome blogpost and want to let all your followers know about it. Plus this awesome blogger with the awesome blogpost is a friend. Being the nicey tweep that you are, you give a shout-out:
@writercherie wrote a wonderfully cool and savvy blogpost about Broken Bones and Twitter, you should check it out at [link].
If you do it this way, the only people who are going to see this are the @ person (in this case, me), and our mutual friends who follow both of us. All your other followers who do not follow @person will not see it.
Another way to do this--aside from the period (.@writercherie wrote a wonderfully cool...etc.)--you can use words before the name:
Hey, @writercherie wrote a wonderfully...blah, blah, blah.
6. Some Twitter apps (like Tweetdeck) has an automatic shrink-link feature, which shortens your URLS so they don't use up all of your 140 characters. I heard Twitter has their own shrink-link now, though I wouldn't know because I use Tweetdeck most of the time. My savvy friend @aghowardwrites told me about http://tinyurl.com/. You can use this site to shorten your links.
7. Hashtags (they start with #) are useful if you and your many friends want to chat and keep a conversation. There are also scheduled chats--in the writing world for instance, there is #YAlitchat , #askagent , and many others.
Hashtags also let you search for trends or common things that people use/say/tweet about. If you click on #writing, you'll see all the tweets that employ this tag, whether or not you follow the people tweeting them.
Okay, that's it for now. Any questions? Clarifications? Comments? Let me know. I'd also like to hear how Twitter has been a positive or negative experience for you.