Should I tweet? A beginner's guide to Twitter.

by published at 14:42 on 2011-12-28

Although I have had a Twitter account for some time I haven't actually published many tweets. The reason for this is quite simple. In the past I really didn't understand what I should be tweeting about. Now I do, and I still don't tweet very much. The reason for this is also quite simple. I don't have much to say via the medium of Twitter.

Having gone through this journey of understanding I thought I would write a short post for anyone else wondering what to do with their Twitter account. Just because it's not much use to me, doesn't mean you won't find it very useful, or at least quite fun. I will try and answer some of the basic questions regarding the service, for example: What should you tweet? When should you tweet it? What's the point of it? What does it say about you?

What should you tweet?

You can tweet about anything you want. Whether you should or not is largely personal choice. It's worth considering that anything you tweet about yourself, not in response to a direct message or someone else's post, is essentially equivalent to voicing your thoughts in a large group of people when nobody asked for your opinion. If you want to be that guy then you can. in my opinion a great tweet is informative and intended to increase awareness of something, whether that's a secret gig that's just been announced, a great value sale item you just found or the birth of your new child. It can be hard to overcome the fact that tweeting is fundamentally narcissistic, especially if you're not a celebrity or public figure who could reasonably be of general interest to the Twitter population. That said, I think people are less likely to judge your self obsessed ramblings given the environment, and the fact they signed up to listen to you. Basically, don't sit there thinking about what you could tweet, wait until you learn something that you feel others would benefit from knowing, then tell them. Very few people will genuinely give a crap about your new sofa, your child's progress in potty training or the nuances of your hangover.

The other Twitter based phenomena is the re-tweet which essentially means that you have read a tweet from someone else and want to tell your followers about it. I see many, many feeds that are made up almost entirely of re-tweets. I'm sure there's a good reason to do this but I can't think of it. Maybe if you wanted to aggregate a collection of posts to a group of followers? I notice this happens a lot when you are paying someone to perform social media marketing and they don't have much original content to work with, or they're bad at their job.

Another use for your Twitter feed is to keep in touch with groups of friends in one place. Like group sms messages but free. With increased smart phone ownership this is an easy way to inform lots of people about your whereabouts and activities 'on the fly' - should you want to.

When should you tweet?

Whenever you have something to say. You're not going to disturb anyone in the same way you might with a telephone call or text, so go ahead.

What does it say about you?

How you use it defines what it says about you, but generally it suggests you're in touch with technology and eager to use it to make friends and find out about other people. Which has got to be a good thing, surely? Sometimes though it clearly suggests a person is self obsessed, bored or both.

 

In summary I think most people can benefit from joining Twitter, following some interesting people and tweeting themselves when they have something to say. On the other hand, I also think a lot of people waste their time and the time of others by posting fresh nonsense or worse, repeating other peoples rubbish. In that respect Twitter is just another way to socialize with people, with all the pitfalls and pleasure to be found elsewhere.

So what's the answer to the question 'should I tweet'? If you're having to think about it, probably not. If it's spontaneous and informative, funny, emotive and relevant to your followers - and the general public - then probably yes.

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What I'm reading

I was recently trying to find out when the next book from one of my favourite authors, Patrick Rothfuss, is due for release. That turned out to be a pretty disapointing exercise but in the interview I read with him, he mentioned one of his favourite books, Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey. I had never heard of the author or the series of books featuring the character Sandman Slim. I am just finishing off the third novel now, Aloha from Hell, and I think they are great. I think the best description of the books is found on the cover, "The best B-movie I have read in 20 years". They read exactly like a Quentin Tarantino script with enough of a unique voice not to feel like a rip-off. Plenty of mythology and pop culture with witty dialogue and ultra violence. My advice is start with Sandman Slim and keep reading until you're full.

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What I'm playing

Since the release of the new World of Warcraft expansion I have been in turmoil when it comes to deciding where to commit the small amount of free time I have at the moment. I vowed that I had had enough of WoW and a short while ago enjoyed levelling a character in the fantastic Guild Wars 2. I really think that GW2 is a superior game in almost all respects and quite possibly the best MMORPG available right now. The problem is the only thing GW2 doesn't have, that WoW does, is all my friends playing it. If you enjoy playing online multiplayer games then it's almost certainly for the social elements and I simply can't get that in sufficient quantity or quality elsewhere. Which is a long winded way of saying I'm back playing WoW. Despite that rant I would definitely say that the Mists of Pandaria expansion is the best so far. Yes it's more childlike and yes it's much easier, but I don't play these games for their intellectual value or to give me any more stress!!oneone

Aside from MMORPGs I have also been playing the 2012 reboot of the amazing 1996 microprose game X:COM which is, frankly, brilliant in almost every way. Every strategy fan should own a copy. A lof of reviewers claim that it's dumbed down, and in some ways it is, but they have actually simplified things that didn't require complicated mechanics to make it enjoyable. It's better than the original in most respects and that's really saying something.

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What I'm listening to

If you had asked me a week ago what I thought of Muse's new album The 2nd Law I would have answered: "It's the bastard child of George Michael, Savage Garden and Queen, I hate it, and I can't believe the same band that recorded Plugin Baby wrote it". Ask me the same thing today and I'd give you the same answer unfortunately, with a caveat about the wicked bass riff on Supremacy. I think Matt Bellamy might have banged his head sometime around the recording of The Resistance.

I enjoyed the second album from Mumford and Sons, Babel. It's more of the same, not quite as good, but worth buying if you like Sigh No More.

My current favourite album is My Head is an Animal from the Icelandic Band, Of Monsters and Men. It's different, quite lovely, melodic and makes me smile.

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What I'm watching

I don't usually go in for US comedy shows (historically untrue, but not lately) so I was surprised to find that I really, really like The Middle, and to a lesser extent, Modern Family. Modern Family seems to have some barely covered Religious under currents, otherwise it's well scripted and fun. The Middle is just brilliant, why can't the British manage family based situational comedy like this? Anyway, I seem to have loads of both series recorded on the Sky box and I am happily eating up all of it when I can.

Also, I wasn't expecting to like Elementary, which is a US revamp of the classic Sherlock Holmes story, starring Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Lui (as Watson!?). It's actually pretty decent, mainly because they managed to steer clear of all the obvious pitfalls likely to ruin this for a British traditionalist viewer. I have watched the first two episodes and will likely continue.

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