How to Tame Twitter

Like all social networking gateways, Twitter offers a lot of fun and interaction. There are probably five of you out there who are still asking what Twitter is. If so, I suggest THIS VIDEO.  However, Twitter is better caught than taught. It’s being used by young and old. (funny) One feature that most Twitterers love is that it does so within 140 characters … so it’s like having a blog but being limited to a few sentences. I like Twitter for so many reasons. I love the way it updates my Facebook and on my blog (see sidebar). I love the way I can use it on my iPhone.  It is one of the easier things to learn to use. The explosion of Twitter in the web 2.0 world is evidenced by the many clients being created to enhance it’s potential. Names like Twitterific, TweetDeck, Twirhl, Twitbin – and bunches more – make use of it’s lighthearted and funny name.

However, a dark cloud rises on the Twitter Horizon. Recently some of my friends and I have noticed that Twitter is taking up more time than it used to. It seems natural, since more and more people are using Twitter. As the image above suggests, sometimes even Twitter is overloaded!  The Twitter Takeover happens when we are “following” too many people or when those we follow post too often.  This is especially true if you suffer from the guilt complex that makes you follow everyone who’s following you!  It happens because we are moved to ‘Tweet’ every time we see something interesting inane. So, those of us who love Twitter, but feel it encroaching on our time can do one of two things. We can just delete it and move on without ‘tweeting’ any more (curse the thought!). Or we can tame the Twitter! I choose to tame it, and I here share my strategy for doing just that.

1. The Rose Approach. A good friend once told me that if you are going to have beautiful roses, you have to have a cold heart and a sharp pair of shears. Roses do best when pruned, and Twitter will be more fun and serve us better if we prune. I am currently following 66 people, and have 90 followers. I’m just an amateur compared to some serious Twitterers! Following 66 people (many of whom never post anything) is too much for me. So I’m going to prune my list back. No hurt feelings allowed!

2. Get Help. Find a client that serves you well. I know very few people who go to the Twitter site to check their Tweets! We have clients to help us read Twitter on our cell phones, or in our web browsers. iGoogle has a good client that you can use on your homepage. I have used Twitterific with happiness on my cell phone. I am currently using Twittelator and I like it pretty well too. Twitterfox was my client of choice for Firefox (don’t use IE anymore, so someone else will have to make a suggestion there). However, I think TweetDeck has surpassed all of them. There are several things I like about TweetDeck, but that is another post.

3. Check Your Followers. As with all things Internet, spammers find their way into Twitter. If you do not check your followers every few weeks, you’ll have some strange people following you. Now I do not think they’re actually reading your Tweets. After all, some of them are following thousands of people. In fact, I can’t think of a single thing they could accomplish by this. But maybe they’re still figuring that out. Block them!

4. Learn To Direct Message. It is tempting to put everything on the public timeline. You can reply to an individual by placing a @ before their Twitter ID. Everyone can see it, but it is considered a bit more directed at the person to whom you are responding. There is a thing called Direct Message – which you can do by placing the letter D before their Twitter name … and then only they will see it. While the joy of Twitter is the friviolous messages here and there from people … some quite humorous … there are many things that could be sent Direct Message and not clutter up everyone’s Twitter clients.

5. Encourage Blogging.  When someone has to post five Tweets in a row to finish their thought, they have moved beyond Twitter’s purpose and into blogging. Blogging is good, I love to blog. But Twitter is not blogging. It gets confusing when other Tweets get interspersed in between those sentences.  Get a blog! They are free and you can build an audience of regular readers who can respond there.

6. Do Not Abandon Instant Messaging! There is, by nature, interaction on Twitter. Sometimes, however, this interaction begins to look like a chatroom. After a few back and forth, it should become obvious that there is more to talk about and you can go to Direct Message (see #3) or you can go to a chatroom, or make a call, or whatever you want to do. I don’t know what the limit should be on the back-and-forth conversations, but after several messages, one should be able to perceive that this is an ongoing thing, and not a short observation.

Well, now it might look like I’m all grumpy about Twitter, and really … I’m not! I have so much fun with my friends on Twitter. I have a few friends that I really wish would try Twitter!  However, I’m over-run with Tweets these days. So I’m going to have to tame the Twitter monster! But since that’s not the ONLY way to be in touch with me, it shouldn’t be a big deal to cut back on my followers and those I follow. It’s not personal!

Well, those are my thoughts on taming the Twitter monster. I’d love to hear yours!

Thanks for reading!

John

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