So you just got twitter?

30 11 2010

As some of you know, I’ve been using the internet since the early 90’s, and therefore am quite a confident user, I don’t call myself a guru, but I know what goes where and why.

Now Twitter can be a bit confusing when you join up, but then, it’s no harder than using anything else you’ve tried, and I hope that I can help you smooth it out a bit.

Firstly, it’s not wise to lock yourself away, yes I know that you want a certain degree of privacy, but if you lock yourself away on twitter, a problem occurs.

Let’s say that you find out something awesome, perhaps you saw something, or you were “there when it happened” and want to send the news out.

Well your followers will see your news and naturally they will want to Re-Tweet that news to their friends in turn.

But they can’t, because your info is not available to the public… that doesn’t mean that your friends couldn’t do a copy/paste, but it’s a hassle that you don’t really need, and your friends don’t need.

If you really want to send a secure message via twitter, you can use the Direct Message option.

Once you are on twitter, people will start wanting to follow you, particularly if they noticed you reply to a friend of theirs, they will think “ahh this person added something worthy to the conversation, therefore I want to follow them”.and that’s fine, this is how you grow your followers list.

Do not try to get a large amount of followers via some “Get many followers now” scam, if you do, you might get lots of followers, but they’ll be a pretty useless lot, you need people who are on your frequency. One good friend always beats a thousand strangers, right?

Now, some followers will be genuine people, but many will simply be spammers, and sometimes it’s hard to tell one from the other, so here’s a few clues which may help you decide.

If I’ve just got an e-mail from Twitter, telling me that Lady3456 is following me, I’d click the link to go to their twitter page.

The first thing that bothers me here is the name, If I should see a woman’s name followed by numbers, it’s got to be a spammer, though I may be wrong. Most of the time this persons icon is a photo of a good-looking woman.

Suppose the very first tweet I see on their page looks something like “Make many followers”, That’s confirmation enough for me, and so I’ll block them via the settings on their twitter page. * Which you’ll only see if you’re logged in.

This technique is all too common on twitter, and a variation can be the businessman, dressed in a “nice” suit, suits make Wolfie an angry puppy.

If I look at the pictures of who they’re following and my icon is not on the top line, it means this person has either just got twitter and is furiously following people, which is fine because some people, like me, do go nuts when they find something new that fascinates them, or it could mean they’re a spammer, following people at random, trying to get noticed.

If I look at the persons tweets, and they’re always about some product or service, unless it’s a product or service which I’m interested in (ABC News, for instance), they’re blocked.

If I see anything, ANYTHING, about Ringtones, Real Estate, Teeth Whitener, You get blocked.

If I see in your profile that you’re a SEO, a Social Media Expert, into Marketing and Investments… You’re Blocked.

Anyone proclaiming to be a Christian, Conspiracy theorist or Hateful Right Wing Nutcase, You’re Blocked.

Porn – I can find it myself, I don’t require your help thankyou, Blocked.

If your tweets are nothing but African-American street slang, dotted with profanity, then you can fuck off, bro’

If you’re too damn lazy to fill out your profile and leave your image as an egg, then you’re gone… A profile is an essential piece of information, it’s a bit like shaking hands in the real world… and your avatar can become known as “a trusted brand”, filling out your profile and adding a picture, even if it’s temporary, is essential, don’t skip it.

And those who only ever tweet about Sport, Body Odour, Videogames, Celebs, Jock itch…

If you do any of the above, then you are not welcome in my twitterverse, and you will be ruthlessly and mercilessly blocked, immediately… with as much pain as possible.

Look out for twitterers who have only tweeted a few times (or never) yet somehow have hundreds or thousands of followers.

Then there are things that I just find annoying, like tweets written in ALL CAPS, DEAR GOD WHY???

R U 1 of those who are too lazy to use your keyboard? Most people will be using twitter on full sized computers or smartphones with a full keyboard, SMS shortcuts piss me off, sorry, but they do, I won’t block you because of it, but you know what they say about first impressions.

And People who tweet nothing but quotes by famous people, and don’t appear to talk to anyone, seem highly suspect to me, what are they up to? I block these too, cruel bastard, aren’t I?

A lot of users don’t like follows from protected users, unless they know who they are in advance, I’m the same, So if you’re protected and don’t bother to ask me first, how do I tell you’re genuine?

But if I look at someones Twitter page and I recognise the person’s name, or I can see an active, friendly discussion between that person and some of my other followers, then I will allow them to follow me, and if I’m interested enough, I may follow back.

If they start a conversation with me on twitter and I haven’t followed them back, I will usually do so fairly soon, Because it’s usually enough to tell me that they’re a real person, and they’re actually interested in me.

Have they got 42,000 followers and they’re not @stephenfry (Who at this time has about two million followers)?
Unless you’re a celebrity with a verified account (or I know you’re real) then I find this highly dubious indeed.

So you may be wondering how a spammer finds you anyway, well twitter is highly conversational, it’s a bit like a cocktail party, and yes you can drink and tweet if you like… but relationships might be a bit mixed up tomorrow… so I don’t really advise it. But you move around the room and keep your ears open, and when you find a conversation that tickles you, you move into that group and say “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear what you were saying, as it happens, I know something about that myself…”

So, You find two users having a chat on Twitter, which might go something like this:

@BigBadWolf is asking @LittleRedRidinghood out on a date

@LittleRedRidinghood is feeling a bit unsure about it, but says ok

So you send a tweet to @LittleRedRidinghood advising her to pack a taser. (Troublemaker that you are).

The following day as you go through your e-mail, you will find one from twitter, telling you that @TasersRUS is now following you on twitter.

Your tweet contained the word “Taser” that’s the only reason they followed you, they have some kind of autofollow program which grabs a particular word and follows people based on that, which is stupid, I mean you could have said “tasers suck” and you still would have got a follow, block this person immediately.

However, be aware that @LittleRedRidinghood may also decide that you’re a kind, thoughtful individual, who’s suggestion of a taser turned out to be a very handy idea (you bastard), She follows you, and she may also introduce you to @Granny and @Woodsman…. *growls*

While we’re on about key words, the word “Riddle” will bring in the spam quite rapidly, do it when you’re not happy and want to punch someones’ lights out, a good blocking and reporting is quite therapeutic.

Why block anyway, is it really all that important? Well do consider that when people follow you, their icon sits on your followers list on your twitter page, and that group of pics helps genuine followers spot the names of people who may be familiar to them, thus helping them decide whether they should follow you or not, so try and keep your followers list clean… it only takes a few minutes a day to do.

By he way, Spammers sometimes disguise themselves as potential friends by following several of your followers, however their conversation will never involve your mates.

Hashtags are great, they help keep a group together, you may have seen them used for TV programs, #qanda and #newinventors for the ABC programs, and #HeyHey for Hey Hey it’s Saturday.

In a program like tweetdeck, you can dedicate a whole column to one of those shows, and see every tweet relating to it. To join in the conversation, just add a hashtag to the end of any normal tweet, and let the computer do the hard yards.

Alas the rotten spammers will discover that a hashtag is popular and will begin suggesting that you visit certain web pages featuring girls promising to love you for quite some time, this is the reason HeyHey kept changing the tag, I told Daryl that this could happen, and he must have agreed… but generally spammers catch on a bit too late, and will spam after the show is over, missing their opportunity.

By the way, I would definitely get a twitter app, like tweetdeck It’s so much better than using the website, you’ll find that twitter comes to life when you begin using one, so do try it.

I hope this little bit of info helps, if you have any of your own tips, please comment.

Wolfie!

BTW: Furries tend to be genuine, We think this is because spammers don’t know what furries are.

*** After Thoughts ***

If you’re running Twitter on a phone, please be careful with allowing twitter to send out GPS locations.

If you must use a social network which uses GPS, which can be useful, especially when traveling with a group, then go with Gowalla or Foursquare. These social networks should be treated much differently than Twitter in that you only allow completely trusted individuals to link up with you. I only have about twenty Foursquare and Gowalla followers – And for the record, although Foursquare is more popular in Australia, I prefer Gowalla, but this really is another story 😉

If you’re a celebrity or public figure, then you should also press Twitter for a Verified Account as it helps followers feel certain that it IS you, and saves you being impersonated by others, who may not have very kind intentions towards you. Lastly, A Verified Account is a very very nice thing to have.

You can *attempt* to get a Verified Account by writing to Twitter.

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