The previous CommunityNet Tip explained about using Twitter to easily keep small groups in touch with one another. While it’s a simple service — easy to use and quick to make sense of — there is some additional power just one step away.
Broadcast your tweets to everyone
If you allow your tweets to appear on the public timeline (see last month’s tip for more on public or private tweeting) then the whole world can see what you say. You’ve simply broadcast your words for the benefit of all and sundry.
Your ‘followers’ though have elected to be notified when you say something so they are most likely to see what you write. You may have 1, 10, 100, or thousands of ‘followers’.
As for the rest of the world, there is so much twittering going on that your tweets will probably be lost in the crowd.
Broadcast your tweets to one person
My Twitter name is
Miraz. If you specifically wanted me to see something you write then you can add an
@ symbol and my name before you type anything else:
@miraz. That way it will show up as marked for me. The rest of the world can still see it, but everyone knows you were talking to me. This is a bit like having a conversation in a coffee shop or on a bus. Everyone can hear everything, but most people assume you’re addressing your remarks to one individual.
Privately message one person
Another option is the ‘Direct Message’. This is a private remark that goes only to the person it’s addressed to. Use ‘
d‘ for a direct message, like this:
d miraz, followed by your remarks.
Keep track with an RSS feed
Everyone on Twitter has their own RSS feed. To make sure you don’t miss what someone writes subscribe to their RSS feed in your feedreader. This is especially handy if that person is in another timezone.
To find the RSS feed address visit the user’s Twitter page, for example mine is: twitter.com/miraz.
Scroll down and click on the RSS link at the bottom of the page. Add the address of the page you reach to your feedreader.
It’s not only people who use Twitter
Twitter’s excellent for keeping up with friends and colleagues, but organisations provide Twitter streams too.
One way organisations and individuals use Twitter is to have their blog posts automatically notified to Twitter.
Try some of these — put these names at the end of the URL:
For example: twitter.com/rnz_news.
Or visit Beth Kantner’s blog post The Nonprofit Twitter Pack: Are you listed? for a long list of (overseas) non-profit Twitter feeds.
Twitter is one of those things most people just don’t ‘get’ until they use it for a while, and then they want to tell everyone else about it.
Try it out for a few weeks. What can it do for your organisation, or for you personally?
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, October 2008. This article may have been modified for publication here.